Christmas is an exciting time of year to celebrate the holiday cheer with family and friends. What better way to make happy memories than with a delicious bottle of wine and a tasty dinner? If you are hosting a Christmas dinner or attending a holiday party, you may be wondering what some of the best wines for Christmas dinner are.
What Wine to Bring to Christmas Dinner
When planning your holiday meal, one of the most important things you may consider is whether you want red or white wine with Christmas dinner. Wine is a delicious addition to any meal and can be an excellent way to celebrate the holidays and elevate your meal. In addition to gifts and holiday cheer, most people look forward to Christmas dinner, food and wine.
A quick rule of thumb for choosing the best red wine for Christmas dinner or white wine for appetizers is to pair wines with similar flavor profiles. For example, full-bodied red wine often pairs better with a heartier meal of a roast or ham. If you pair a robust wine with a light dish, the wine will likely overpower the flavors of your meal. While any wine can be a delicious addition to your Christmas dinner, some of the most popular Christmas dinner wine pairings can help your dishes stand out.
Prosecco wine is a good wine for Christmas dinner. This sparkling wine originates from Northeastern Italy and is named after the Italian town of Prosecco. Although prosecco is an Italian wine, the grapes that make this Italian wine are imported from Slovenia. Prosecco grapes, formerly known as glera grapes, are what provide prosecco with a unique flavor.
While prosecco comes in many styles, some of the best wines to pair with Christmas dinner are the brut and extra brut styles. Because of its high acidity, dryness and strong fruit flavors, prosecco is a versatile wine that pairs wonderfully with numerous dishes.
Cava wine is among many Christmas dinner wine recommendations because of its light to medium-bodied dry flavor. Cava wine is aged longer on the lees to achieve more pronounced nutty and apple notes. This sparkling wine creates a creamy and smooth mouthfeel and typically features dominant flavors of almond, lemon, lime, tart apple and quince.
Cava is made from the traditional methods, which is the same way champagne is made in France. Cava is a traditional Spanish sparkling wine that is mainly produced in Catalonia. This style of wine often features a blend of parellada and macabre grapes and comes in either rosé or white.
Ripasso is an ancient wine-making technique that is traditional to Valpolicella wines but has grown in popularity among wine lovers. The Ripasso technique, also known as the double fermentation technique, provides more body, structure and unique flavors to a basic Valpolicella wine. Ripasso wines retain Valpolicella’s vibrancy but are more flavorful and complex than the original wine.
Ripasso may be an ideal wine to serve at Christmas dinner if you plan to have bold, hearty flavors, such as braised red meats, aged cheeses and stews. Some wine enthusiasts find Ripasso wines to share similar flavor profiles and aromas to Amarone wine. If you or your guests are a fan of Amarone, likely, you or your guests will also enjoy the flavor of Ripasso wines.
Moscato is an excellent wine that pairs well with Christmas dinner due to its sweet, bubbly flavor profile. Moscato comes in rosé or white and typically has a low alcohol content, making it an ideal wine to pair with appetizers or desserts. A Moscato Wine is made using Muscat grapes, which are grapes commonly used to make raisins.
Fruit flavors are some of the most common notes in a Moscato wine, including orange blossoms, sweet peach and nectarines. Because Moscato wines are sugary and sweet, they often pair well with fruit tarts, butterscotch, coconut and creamy desserts. It is generally recommended not to pair Moscato with chocolate, as chocolate is often too rich.
Barbaresco is also a good wine for Christmas dinner that is made in Italy’s Piedmont region. Barbaresco is an acidic and highly tannic wine that requires years of cellaring to balance its flavors. This wine is aged at least 26 months, with at least nine months in wood barrels. Barbaresco is an excellent red wine for Christmas dinner because it often features notes of licorice, raspberry, dried cherry, rose petals and more.
Barbaresco’s intense and bold flavors make it an ideal wine to pair with hearty and rich Christmas dinners. This wine has earthy and smoky elements that complement beef roasts, veal, lamb or short ribs. You may want to avoid pairing Barbaresco wines with chicken or fish, as the wine may overwhelm the lighter flavors of these dishes.
6. White Merlot
Despite its name, white merlot is not a white wine but is a style of blush wine that is made using black-skinned merlot grapes. While some blush wines are blended rosés, white merlot is made using one grape type, which is where its unique pink hues originate. White merlot and white Zinfandel were created in the 1980s and have continued to become increasingly popular.
White merlot features sweet flavors and a refreshingly crisp finish. Because the grapes spend less time on the skin, the overall tannin levels are decreased significantly. Some of the main notes on this type of wine include orange peel, sweet cherry, blackberry, raspberry, cranberry and more. When pairing white merlot with foods, you may want to consider savory flavors, which can balance the sweetness of this wine.
While many people may think vermouth is a spirit, it is actually a fortified wine, meaning it has added alcohol to increase its alcohol level. Vermouth is also aromatized and infused with various spices, herbs and roots and, in some cases, sweetened. The flavor profile of vermouth is complex and layered.
Some of the most commonly used herbs in vermouth include marjoram, lavender, ginger and rose. Other popular flavors include cardamom, cinnamon, citrus peels, licorice, orris and vanilla. Vermouth often pairs well with simple snacks and appetizers, including flatbreads and breadsticks.
8. Ice Wine
Ice wine originated in Austria and Germany. When making ice wine, the grapes are left on the vine longer through the winter, and the water within the grapes will freeze. The frozen grapes are immediately picked and pressed, making juice that is much higher in sugar. This will then be made into ice wine.
When making ice wine, the main grapes used are Vidal Blanc and Riesling. While flavors may vary, some of the most common notes include tropical fruits, marmalade, citrus and honey. Ice wine is often served as a dessert wine with sweets like ice cream, cheesecake, white chocolate mousse and fresh fruit panna cotta.
Chianti wine is wine made from the Chianti region and is made of Sangiovese grapes. Chianti is a dry red wine that pairs well with a variety of food. Its flavor profile ranges from light to almost full-bodied and often has an aroma of cherries or violets. Some chianti wine also has a flavor similar to tart cherries because Chianti wine has coarse tannins and high acid.
The high acidity levels of Chianti cut through rich, fatty dishes and complement the flavor of tomatoes. Chianti is an excellent wine recommendation for Christmas dinner featuring tomatoes or tomato sauces.
Bordeaux wine originated from Bordeaux, France, and the majority of Bordeaux wines are made with red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Bordeaux wines are medium to full-bodied with aromas and flavors of plums, black currant and earthy notes. Depending on the style of Bordeaux wine, the flavor profiles range from sweet to tart.
Bordeaux wines from the Left bank are an ideal wine for Christmas ham dinner, lamb, and fattier steaks. If you are serving a Bordeaux wine from the right bank, this wine is one of the best wines for Christmas turkey dinner or a meal featuring leaner cuts of meat, including pork and duck.
How to Decide What Is a Good Wine for Christmas Dinner
One of the first things to consider for choosing the best white or red wine for Christmas dinner is thinking about what will be on the menu. For example, the best wine for turkey Christmas dinner will likely be different than the best wine with a Christmas ham dinner. If you have a lighter meal such as seafood or chicken, you will likely choose a lighter wine to balance these flavors.
A heartier wine pairs with bold flavors, such as lamb, beef or ham. The taste of a light wine may get overwhelmed by the strong flavors of the meal. Likewise, a strong wine may overpower the flavor of your meal. There are also many styles of wine to choose from, and two of the most well-known styles include red and white wines. Other popular types of wine include blush wines and rosé.
Best Red Wine to Have With Christmas Dinner
Red wines are some of the most popular wines that can pair excellently with your holiday meal. If you are looking for some of the best red wines to have with Christmas dinner, you may want to consider:
- Pinot noir: One of the most popular red wines for Christmas dinner is pinot noir, which is made of black-skinned grapes. These grapes create a lighter-bodied wine that pairs excellently with various meals. Pinot noir features delicious flavors of red fruit, which are naturally high in acidity. Pinot noir is typically made in a dry style.
- Merlot: High-quality merlots are made in Chile, France, the United States, Italy and Australia. Most merlots share velvety, supple tannins and flavor profiles of plum and black cherry. Merlot is an ideal red wine for Christmas turkey dinner, pork, cheesy gratins and veal roasts.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Many believe Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best red wines for Christmas dinner that pairs well with red meats, including filet mignon and prime rib. You can also pair this wine with ahi tuna and lamb for a delicious meal. Enjoy this wine with food served with reductions or sauces. You may want to avoid rice and pasta when serving Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Malbec: Another popular choice for the best Christmas dinner red wines is Malbec. These wines are generally full-bodied and feature dark fruit flavors, including red plum and blackberry.
Best White Wine for Christmas Dinner
White wine is another popular style of wine that is sure to please your holiday guests. If you wonder what wine goes with Christmas turkey dinner, you may want to consider these popular white wine styles.
- Chardonnay: A chardonnay is often full, velvety and fruity, but it may also have a creamier taste, depending on the style. Chardonnay can be an ideal white wine for Christmas dinner if you are serving a creamy dish, such as creamed mushrooms.
- Pinot grigio: A pinot grigio is a white wine for Christmas turkey dinner that is typically light- to medium-bodied. In most cases, a pinot grigio is generally dry and features a crisp flavor. Many wine enthusiasts enjoy pairing pinot grigio with a creamy pasta dish or salad.
- Sauvignon blanc: Another Christmas dinner white wine is Sauvignon blanc, and it is generally a crowd-pleaser. This wine is slightly tart, on the drier side and usually more acidic than a traditional Chardonnay. A sauvignon blanc can pair well with a cheese dish or even fresh seafood, depending on the style.
How Much Wine to Serve for Christmas Dinner
If you know what wine you want to serve or bring to your holiday dinner, you may be wondering how much wine you will need for all of your guests. On average, a serving of wine is approximately five ounces, but each person may pour more or less. The size of a wine glass will also change how much wine a guest may pour at once.
The number of bottles you may need will also depend on the size of the wine bottles for the style you are serving. On average, a standard bottle of wine is about 25 ounces or about five full servings. When considering the food and wine for Christmas dinner, it is generally recommended to have a little extra on hand.
If you have extra wine afterward, you can save unopened bottles for New Year’s Eve or another celebration. A good rule to follow is having one bottle of wine for every one to two guests you expect every two to three hours. You may also want to have various wines to serve throughout the evening, such as a wine for appetizers, one for the main course and a dessert wine to finish.
Best Food and Wine Pairings for Christmas Dinner
Food and wine pairings can work in harmony to bring out the flavors of your meal and wine. While many food and wine pairings are known to go well together, it is important to remember that almost any wine can be a great addition to your dinner. The most important thing is having fun and enjoying selecting a bottle of wine you think you and your guests will enjoy.
Appetizers are the first flavors your holiday guests will enjoy during your Christmas dinner. Some of the most popular wine and appetizer pairings include:
- Cheese platters: Cheese and wine is a classic pair and an excellent way to start your Christmas meal. For cheese platters, you can serve a very light red wine or crisp white wine. Aged cheese, including Havarti and gouda, may pair better with a sweeter white wine.
- Meat platters: If you are serving a meat platter as a Christmas appetizer, some of the tastiest meats include soppressata, prosciutto and mortadella. These meats pair well with light-bodied white wines, including pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc, or medium-bodied red wines, such as merlot or pinot noir.
- Pigs in a blanket: Choose a savory treat for your guests to enjoy before Christmas dinner. If you are serving pigs in a blanket, some of the best wine pairings include Riesling and pinot noirs. Rosés are also an excellent choice, especially if your pigs in a blanket will be served with a side of mustard.
After a delicious round of appetizers, you and your dinner guests will be excited to taste the flavors of your main course. Popular meat and wine pairings for Christmas dinner include:
- Turkey: Wine pairing for a Christmas turkey dinner can complement the meat, gravy and stuffing. Some of the most popular wines to pair with your Christmas turkey dinner include pinot noir, Riesling, Zinfandel and chardonnay.
- Ham: Another option to serve during your Christmas dinner is ham. The sweet and salty notes of ham often pair well with wines that feature a little sweetness, including Moscato, Zinfandel and Rieslings.
- Steak: The bold and hearty flavors of steak often pair excellently with cabernets and Malbec wine. You can also serve steak with Zinfandel or merlot during your Christmas dinner.
While your main dish is an important aspect of your holiday dinner, we cannot forget dessert! If you have saved room, you and your guests can enjoy a sweet treat to end a delicious holiday meal. Some of the best dessert and wine pairings include:
- Cheesecake: You can end your Christmas dinner on a great note and choose from various toppings. Pair your cheesecake with a sweet Riesling, Moscato or Prosecco. You may also want to consider port wine or sauvignon blanc for wines that complement a cheesecake dessert.
- Gingerbread cookies: If you enjoy a delicious gingerbread house or cookies for your Christmas dessert, you may want to complement this food with a bottle of Zinfandel. Zinfandel is a fruit-based wine that features a bold flavor that goes well with the spice of gingerbread.
- Fruit tart: If you are serving a refreshing fruit tart for Christmas dessert, you can pair this delicious pastry with ice wine or a late harvest riesling. These wines feature sweet, crisp and refreshing flavors that go hand in hand with the acidity of a fruit tart.
Tips On Choosing What Wine Is Best for Christmas Dinner
One of the first things to remember about choosing a bottle of wine for a holiday get-together is it is rather hard to select a wine that guests will not enjoy. Even if a wine does not pair perfectly with a meal, it can be enjoyed before or after dinner as a tasty treat. If you are unsure where to start when selecting a bottle of wine for your Christmas dinner, consider these tips:
- Pair light wines with light-flavored meals.
- Avoid pairing overly rich wines with a lighter meal and vice versa.
- Choose a popular wine that is a known crowd-pleaser.
- Consider what type of meat is on the menu for your dinner.
- Select your personal favorite because your guests will likely also enjoy the wine.
- Get a variety of wines, so your guests have options to choose from.
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