It’s Christmas Eve. Food, games, drinking, and merry-making are on the docket. Drunk uncles will abound. Carolers will maraud through the streets. This is the perfect time of year to let the wine flow as you deck those halls.
There’s a good chance you’ll be eating a lot of food today and through next week. To help you decide what to drink with all those rich, savory, and sweet delights, we thought we’d put together a wine pairing guide. This is about having a little fun, eating good food, being with friends, and making the job of playing host as pain-free as possible.
The below recommendations are wines we love but, overall, what we’re doing here is matching styles per course. If you can’t find a certain label we’ve cited here, it’s all good. Find a local bottle that hits the same theme or uses the same type of grape. It’s good to remember that, when it comes to pairing wine, if you dig it, drink it. There really aren’t any wrong answers.
THE “WELCOME TO THE PARTY” WINE — Francis Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blancs
Every great party or meal starts with a little bubbly. The effervescent wine is the perfect palate activator and offers you a chance for a nice headrush of fruity-yet-dry alcohol. Our recommendation is to go local when buying the fizzy stuff. While bringing a bottle of nice champagne is a baller move, you don’t have to spend that much on a bottle. Generally, you can get two bottles of sparkling wine from the U.S. for the price of one from France.
We’re picking Francis Coppola’s Sofia Blanc de Blancs white sparkling here. It’s a beautifully easy-to-drink bottle with plenty of dry fizz and bursts of bright fruit and florals. It also comes wrapped in festive cellophane, giving it a real holiday vibe.
THE “GAMETIME” WINE — Underwood Rose
Okay, everyone’s had their welcome glass of bubbly, now it’s time to settle in. Break out the canned wine. Decks of cards, board games, and sports on the TV are the play here and wine in a can is the perfect accompaniment.
Underwood Rose from Union Wine Co. up in Oregon is everything you want in a rose. The wine has a drinkability that borders on ‘almost-too-easy-to-drink’ territory. It’s bright, refreshing, and excellent when ice-cold. Just keep in mind that each can equates to a half-bottle of wine.
THE “FIRST COURSE” WINE — Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling
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The first course of any meal is an introduction, a “hello” if you will, to the food to come. It’s about opening up palates and keeping things simple at the same time. A good, cheap bottle is what you want here that has enough depth without going overboard on your taste buds.
Hit up Costco or any liquor store and snag a bottle of Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling. This is the sort of crisp, mildly acidic, and fruit-forward wine that’ll get you into the meal. It’s light, unintrusive, and won’t break the bank — everything you want in a bottle of vino.
THE “YO! IT’S CHRISTMAS HAM TIME” WINE — Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir
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The main course of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a big ol’ roast hunk of meat is the highlight here. Turkey, goose, prime rib, ham, or seven fishes define the meal. When you’re talking big roasted flavors, you need a big wine to balance everything out.
Enter Sonoma-Cutrer’s Pinot Noir. The Russian River Valley label is goddamn essential at any dinner, Christmas especially. The wine kicks off with big, dark fruit depth followed by a smokey library full of leather chairs. Then there’s a whisper of spice rooted in the oaky vanilla. This is a crowd-pleasing wine and a Christmas must.
THE “BREAK BEFORE I REBOOT THIS MEAL” WINE — WATER
Drink water, folks. The importance of staying hydrated while drinking wine cannot be understated. If you’re hosting, make sure to have bottles of water on hand. If you’re a guest, don’t be afraid to make trips to the kitchen sink. Or, if you don’t want to bring wine to the party, bring a case of water. Trust us, you’ll be everyone’s hero the next morning.
THE “LET’S DO ROUND TWO” WINE — Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Going back for seconds at any holiday meal is absolutely essential. This is where you dial-in the options and build that perfect plate. So, you need a little lighter wine here.
Our recommendation is to serve a fresh and buttery chardonnay. Again, we’re going with Sonoma-Cutrer. There’s a brightness to this wine that feels like an eye-opener. This isn’t the creamy chardonnays of years past. The wine opens with a burst of apple orchard brightness. That’s followed by a deeply complex oak that gives way to buttery texture on the end. This is California sunshine in a glass.
THE “NOW I WILL JAM MY FACE FULL OF CHEESE” WINE — Stowford Press Mixed Berries Cider
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Although ciders are often packaged with the beers, they’re actually a type of wine. A great cider is also the perfect way to cleanse that palate and mix things up a bit as the party starts to wind down with the food coma kicking in.
Ciders like Stowford Press make a killer varietal that leans into the tartness and sweetness of berries. This offers the perfect counter-balance to a cheese course. Think of it kind of like drinking the jam you’d be serving with the funky cheese. If you can’t find cans of Stowford, check out Westons Special Reserve for all that apple wine goodness. Or hit up a local cidery near home!
THE “WHO’S READY FOR PIE?” WINE — Sandeman Sherry Armada Superior Cream
Fortified wines are classics for a reason. A great sherry — a wine fortified with distilled grape juice — is the perfect way to end an epic meal. There is a sweetness paired beside the alcohol edge that works wonders with a Christmas dessert course.
Sandeman’s Armada Superior Cream is the perfect place to end. The sherry starts with an earthy fig flavor that gives way to hints of vanilla and licorice. The sweetness at play is closer to a honeycomb than something overly saccharine. Lastly, there’s a nutty, nearly marzipan almond element that ties the whole drink together. Overall, this is a great sip to end the night on — plus, you’ll feel all grown up drinking the stuff.
Some companies supplied Uproxx with sample products for us to review.