' Holiday Wine Pairing Menu - VanArnam Vineyards
Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas

Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas!


When it comes to pairing wine with your holiday feast it can be very intimidating.  I will provide you with some helpful tips that will reduce stress and make your holiday enjoyable.


Your Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas should start with the menu!

Once you have established the menu it will help to narrow down the list of wines you plan to serve.

First you will need to consider the progression of courses along with the progression of flavors.

The order of serving wines should be light bodied wines before full bodied wines.  A dry wine prior to a sweet wine. Low alcohol prior to high alcohol wine.  A youthful wine prior to an older wine and the simple prior to a complex wine. 

At the average holiday table, I plan for four food courses.  First course would be starters or appetizers.  Second course is a soup or salad.  Third course is your main and side dishes.  Fourth course is dessert.


Starters or Appetizers – Course 1

A festive way to start any holiday celebration is with Champagne or sparking wines.  I’m also a fan of a light and zesty Sauvignon Blanc.  Both choices are light on the palate and allow you to build on the body of the wines served with your next courses. 

For red wine lovers, a crisp dry Rose is a great option with the first course.


Soup and/or Salad – Course 2

When it comes to soups and salads you will need to think about the level of spice in each dish.  Pair a spicy soup with a high acid aromatic Riesling which will cut the spiciness in the soup.  With a milder or creamy soup pair with a French White Burgundy or Chablis.  Both of these wines are made from the Chardonnay grape.

If you decide to serve salad the dressing is a key component to what wines should be served.  When serving a vinaigrette you will want to select a light, high acid white wine such as champagne or sparkling wine. 


Entrée and Side Dishes – Course 3

This is where your wine selection can get tricky.  We all have family traditions that we like to carry on carry on year after year.  Some serve poultry, some love prime rib roast and others prefer a seafood dish.  Here are a few ideas on how to navigate your entrée wine pairing. 

When serving poultry such as turkey, goose or other poultry dishes, two terrific wine choices are a medium bodied buttery chardonnay and/or a light to medium bodied Pinot Noir.  Both wines will yield an aromatic range of flavors with delicate floral notes. 

If you decide on Prime Rib or Filet Mignon your wine selection should consist of big full bodied red wines.  A Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or an Italian Sangiovese would be excellent choices. 

As far as seafood dishes go, your wine selection can vary depending on the type of seafood you are serving.  Champagne or sparking wine pairs beautifully with oysters, where as a buttery Chardonnay pairs well with crab or shellfish.  A crisp white wine such as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc is a great option for a seafood pasta dish.  For a more meaty or dense fish like salmon or halibut, you could serve a light Rose or Pinot Noir along with a crisp Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.


Dessert or After Dinner Drinks – Course 4

Here is where the fun begins and your imagination can run wild.

The dessert course is my favorite and it can be formal or light and may include after dinner wines or liqueurs.  Here are a few ideas to make your dessert course fun. 

Port wines are a wonderful dessert companion.

A Late Harvest Dessert Wine pairs well with a heavy cake or tort.

A Liqueur Bar with a wide variety of liqueurs is a great way to end your four course meal and pairs well with many kinds of desserts.


Cheers and Happy Holidays!



Post By:   Allison VanArnam