The Holidays are just around the corner…
…and we, as a society, have a lot to celebrate. We’re all trying to live “normal lives,” while still dealing with a pandemic. So as we get together with family for the holiday gatherings and as we’re coming up on the new year, we have some fun, food-friendly wines to pair with your lovely Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas meals. We have some cool, off-the-beaten-path varieties as well as your more common wines that are just what you need for your get-togethers. You can also use our notes to blow their socks off with all your newfound wine knowledge.
Our holiday wine advice is don’t try to pair a wine with each dish, you will end up feeling extremely overwhelmed. Holiday dishes get tricky when it comes to pairing wines with marshmallows and green bean casseroles. Our advice, narrow your focus down to wines that can pair with an array of dishes and don’t focus on those funky dishes. Choose wines with med-high acidity, not too overly buttery, low to medium tannins, and maybe even some wines with a little bit of sweetness. Also, never forget the bubbles or your sweet wines for dessert.
What doesn’t pair well with bubbles? Start the festivities off right with this blanc de blancs masterpiece. This Champagne is a perfect aperitif before your Thanksgiving feast, actually, for your whole feast from start to finish. The bubbles offer a lively counterbalance to the rich flavors and heaviness of the holiday food. This champagne offers expressive notes of crisp, green apples with great minerality, low dosage, and lively acidity. This is one of our favorite grower-producers in southern Champagne and it is especially rare to see Blanc de Blancs from this area, where pinot noir dominates the planting. Grab as many as you can, this one will go fast at your dinner party, we promise.
This Albarino will shake things up at your holiday gathering but will still manage to suit the menu. This Albarino has great textural richness but is balanced with laser acidity and sea-saltiness. Native to the North Atlantic Coast of Spain, this Albarino comes from Calaveras County. Winemaker Rosemary Cakebread (of Cakebread lineage) likes to produce big scoring Cabernets but also wines from lesser-known regions. This Calaveras County Albarino is a gem. There are notes of peach, pineapple, and roasted nuts and round, mouthwatering acidity. This wine could pair extremely well with your mixed vegetable medley or salad as well as your turkey and even ham.
Have you ever tried a Chardonnay from Northern Italy? Well, this one should be on the top of your list. It’s an absolute knockout on the Thanksgiving table and a fine match for any winter fare, especially poultry and pork dishes. Manincor is a culty Italian producer and a somm favorite. This winery is also biodynamically and organically certified. This Chardonnay was an easy choice because it doesn’t taste like any other Chardonnay on the planet. This Chardonnay is not too oaky or buttery but has a lively acidity and crisp mountainous minerality that won’t swallow up your foods. It’s one of those pairings that will enhance any of your side dishes like salads and even that green bean casserole but can also go with your mashed potatoes and can stand up to white meat with ease.
It is no secret that Beaujolais is perhaps the most versatile wine for Thanksgiving and holiday food pairings. Bachelards has been considered a benchmark for serious Gamay since the late 1700s, but under the leadership of Comtesse Alexandra de Vazeilles, who trained at Chateau Latour and Domaine Roulot and then bought this historic property in 2014, the winery has reached superstar status. A Michelin-starred staple and a European somm “go-to” for good reason, this is a no-brainer for all types of holiday wine pairing. Turkey and cranberry, yes. Stuffing, yes. Mashers and gravy, definitely. Christmas ham, uh, that too. You really can’t go wrong here.
Zinfandel is a classic pairing for holiday foods because it’s super food-friendly. It can pair well with lots of your classic dishes like cranberry sauce or pot roast. Zinfandel is a variety that ripens unevenly which is a fault known as millerandage. Due to this uneven ripening, the wines usually have a hint of residual sugar. A Zinfandel would pair seamlessly well with your tart, yet sweet cranberry sauce. Carlisle Zinfandel is an awesome wine coming from a very old vineyard in Russian River Valley (planted in 1926!) and this 2018 Montafi does not disappoint. The wine has lovely notes of brambly blackberries, black plums, red cherry, toasted sage, tobacco, and spices.
Sangiovese what?? Yes, Sangiovese but an eight-year-old Sangiovese. This one is for all you big, bold wine drinkers which aren’t always the easiest to please. Since this wine is a Riserva and by law, it has to be aged for five years in the cellar and in a bottle before it’s released. The grapes used to make this wine come from Fortuna’s best vineyard sites and also go through a meticulous sorting process to eliminate any berry that doesn’t live up to its high standard. Fortuna is a family estate that began in 1907. The family likes to combine Sangiovese from their cooler vineyards with their warmer sites to produce a Brunello with exquisite balance and concentration. This Brunello is very attractive with notes of ripe black cherries, plums, rose petals, and leather notes with good tannins and lively, food-friendly acidity. This wine just makes us feel all warm and fuzzy; like sitting by the fireside on a cold winter’s evening. This wine will pair lovely with your roasted turkey and rich gravy or your aunt’s stuffing recipe.
Make sure the wine is always sweeter than your dessert! You can pair this port with your pecan pie, escalate it further with a chocolate pecan pie. This is a classic port producer that has been around since 1815. This wine has notes of dark berry, dried roses and is a fine expression of a vintage port from a truly exceptional vintage.
We wish you all Happy Holidays from the First Bottle crew! Sip, Sip enjoy!