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Holiday wine pairings

Alicia is a freelance writer who covers everything from pets to cocktails, with cocktails being her favorite. Her loves in life include cheap wine, overpriced lattes, and avoiding exercise at all costs, all while trying to stay slim. She...

The best wines for
your holiday feast

The holidays are filled with family gatherings and lots of food. Whether you traditionally serve tamales, latkes, or ham, there is likely a wine that goes best with each option. A properly paired wine list will ensure that your food tastes its best.

Christmas wine

Turkey, ham and all the fixings

Riesling: If ham is on the menu, these sweeter wines will pair perfectly with the subtle sweet notes often present in ham. Some varieties of riesling can be very sweet almost like a juice while others are drier. If you prefer it one way or the other, ask what the wine specialist at your grocery store would recommend.

Chardonnay: This classic white pairs well with turkey and many of the sides likely to be on your dinner table. Its oaky flavor is much more dry than a riesling making it a perfect companion for the guests who don't like sweet wine.

Syrah: This varietal is often blended with other wine varieties but is great on its own. It is generally full-bodied and full of deep fruit, chocolate and peppery flavors. This wine pairing will hold up well to all the flavors present in a Christmas dinner.

Latkes, matzo ball soup and brisket

Sparkling wine: A good sparkling wine pairs perfectly with crispy fried latkes. The creaminess of the potatoes and the sour cream dipping sauce aren't overpowered by a subtle sparkling wine like they would be with a flavorful red varietal.

Pinot noir: No wine will pair perfectly with every food and every flavor involved in a Hanukkah celebration, but a pinot noir comes pretty close. Pinot noir is typically light-bodied and fruity without being sweet. It won't compete with any dish, but it won't go unnoticed either.

Malbec: This varietal is the perfect wine to pair with red meat like brisket. It is medium-bodied with deep fruit flavors. Its robust and almost earthy flavor brings out the savory flavors in red meats. This wine pairs and holds up well to flavorful and spicy dishes as well like Mexican food or barbecue.

Tamales, enchiladas and beans

Tempranillo: This Spanish varietal is almost spicy in itself and grows in a region famous for spicy foods similar to traditional Mexican dishes. Tempranillo is generally medium to full-bodied which holds up well to foods rich in flavor. Its fruity and earthy flavors make it a favorite among a wide array of wine palates.

Chianti: This Italian varietal is typically paired with tomato-based dishes and other Italian favorites making it a good fit for Mexican dishes which often have similar flavor profiles. They often have subtle nutty and cherry flavors which make it a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of rich flavors.

Margaritas: Even the most perfectly paired wine can't compete with a margarita. No Mexican feast is complete without a little tequila. Serve wine if you must, but don't forget to mix up a pitcher of margaritas as well.

Other holiday cocktail options

Cheers to 5 festive cocktail recipes
Festive cocktail recipes for the holidays
After-dinner drinks to serve at Thanksgiving

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