So you are going to/making a big holiday dinner and have no idea what to bring/pair with it? No sweat! Whether you’re heading to Grandma Dorothy’s, a buddy’s place, your in-laws’ or just staying home with your cat, this trusty guide will help you find the right wines to impress and delight (even the grumpiest of cats).
We’ve broken it down by main course, offered general varietal recommendations as well as some specific suggestions from our selection. We also have tons of other options, but you’ll have to get your wine-loving self into the shop to hear those.
For the turkey lovers:
Reds: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, GSM blends
Whites: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Grenache Blanc
Gamay to Save the Day:
Gamay is a beautiful purple grape most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley (both in France). The grape is vigorous, early-ripening and can grow in cooler climates. Due to the flinty soil of the region, the grape has high acidity, low tannins and leads to light, exuberant, fruit-forward wines.
Hinman Vineyards Pinot Noir (Oregon) – $17.99
Aromas of cranberry juice, smoky Marionberry, vanilla cream, black pepper and light charcoal. Vibrant acidity on the palate with more cranberry, red currant, plum, and sandy tannic structure. NOTE: Serve slightly chilled to bring out the fruit!
Jezebel Blanc (Oregon) – $18.99
A blend of 39% Pinot Gris, 33% Gewürztraminer, 27% Riesling, and 2% Muscat. Wonderful aromas of flowers and spices that complement its crisp tropical flavors. Just a touch of sweetness.
For our vegetarian/vegan friends:
Reds: Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Grenache/Syrah
Whites: Grüner Veltliner, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc
What the heck is Cinsault?
Also spelled, “cinsaut,” this high-production French varietal has been grown in South Africa since the 1880’s. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was the most popular red wine grape, representing 75% of South African wines. Many of these old vines are found in the Swartland as low-yielding, non-irrigated bush vines producing intensely concentrated grapes.
Mount Abora Saffraan Cinsaut (South Africa) – $18.99
A lively, luminous wine with strong mineral core and aromas of sea and earth. An abundance of red berry flavors coupled with expressive tannins, natural acidity, earth and jasmine notes. Guys, this wine is delicious.
Höpler Grüner Veltliner (Austria) – $15.99
Amazing aromas of peach, roses, apricot and lime, with notes of citrus, passionfruit and slight pepper on the palate. Given its acidity and texture, this is one of the most versatile whites.
If beef is what’s for dinner:
Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec
Whites: Chardonnay, Albariño, Syrah ROSÉ
Vuurberg Reserve (South Africa) – $27.99
Blend of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot. Dark and brooding with lots of cassis and intense, spicy notes on the nose. Firm tannic structure and deep intensity on the palate. Decanting recommended.
Maison Champy Rully (France) – $28.99
A soft, full-bodied Chardonnay with lush flavors of rich apricot, pear, warm spice and light toast. Well-integrated acidity.
Duck, duck, goose…
Reds: Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Merlot
Whites: White Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico (Italy) – $25.99
Elegant opening with aromas of wild berry, mint, clove and a balsamic note. Firm palate offering dried black cherry, raspberry, mint, white pepper, and well-integrated oak.
Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir (Oregon) – $22.99
An able complement to nearly any food. Aromas and flavors of cherries, peach and poached pear. Rich and broad with bright, balanced acidity.
And the grand, sweet finale…
Ports, Icewine, Sauternes, Moscato d’Asti, Mead…
We know what you’re thinking: does that even exist anymore?! Mead as in Leif Erickson sharing a mug with his ship full of vikings or Beowulf guzzling the stuff while telling tall tales of his adventures? Yes, THAT mead. So what is it exactly? Mead is made by fermenting honey with water and yeast and sometimes a variety of fruits. It is believed to be one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and has held a pivotal place in many cultures.
Wild Blossom Cranberry Mead (Chicago) – $18.99
Drink local, friends! 80% honey wine (harvested by Chicagoland honeybees – go bees!) and 20% cranberry wine (from Wisconsin cranberries – go Midwest!). Semi-dry and crisp. Perfect on its own OR make a poinsettia cocktail and add it to sparkling wine!
FRV100 Sparkling Beaujolais (France) – $20.99
A combination of cherries, strawberries, and orange zest on the nose. Medium-full palate with a zesty mousse, nice touch of sweetness, and solid grip. A super fun sparkler that will please everyone.
So raise a glass this holiday season, fill it with one of the above and bon appétit. We’ll be doing the same and toasting to you!