Seasonal Sips: Holiday Edition

by | Dec 29, 2023 | In the News | 0 comments

Are you looking for wine pairing tips to get you through the holiday season? There’s nothing better than gathering up friends and family around the table for a night of spirited conversation, hearty helpings of food, and of course, good wine to pair with it all. Naturally, a favorite or traditional wine you love to enjoy each year is always a viable option for holiday gatherings – you and your guests’ palates and the flavors you all enjoy are the most important factor!

Whether you want to experiment with something new or have no idea where to even begin with holiday pairings, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at some wine and food pairing suggestions that are sure to be crowd-pleasers for anyone you’re hosting this holiday season.

wine glass and wine bottle

Chardonnay Pairings: What’s the best food to serve with Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is possibly the most versatile white wine one could select for a holiday meal. This is due in part to the variety of styles it’s made in. Lighter Chardonnays with little to no oak aging, more in line with the Chablis style, are perfect when paired with leaner meats, including common holiday staples like chicken and turkey. Our Napa Valley Chardonnay is on the lighter side of things, due to the lack of malolactic fermentation that preserves the natural, fresh acidity of the varietal.

For richer dishes with flavors that might outshine a softer Chardonnay (think butternut squash, ham, or anything cheesy), an oaked Chardonnay with some buttery notes is often a great choice. It should be full-bodied enough to not get lost in the powerful flavors of the food. Our Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay, while not subjected to the full malolactic fermentation process that gives Chardonnays their buttery flavor, is nonetheless a richer, oakier white wine that is perfect to pair with those substantive dishes.

Dessert Wine Pairings: How do I pair Dessert Wine?

After you give your stomach a little time to digest and recover from the inevitable food comas that come with holiday meals, it’s time to dig into dessert! There’s not a time of the year that’s more inundated with sweets of every shape and flavor than the holiday season – and we’re not complaining. But what wine is best to pair with those sweet treats? The answer is fairly obvious – a dessert wine of course!

However, there is no shortage of dessert wines to pick from. To some, paring a very sweet wine with an already sweet dessert may seem counterintuitive – sweet-on-sweet will result in a saccharine overload, right? Well, the science behind wine pairings actually tells a much different story. Sugar makes competing acidic flavors more noticeable, meaning that if one were to pair a sugary dessert with a dry, acidic wine, the resulting flavor would be tart and bitter. By pairing a dessert with a wine that has an intensity of sugar equal or greater than it, you ensure that neither overpowers the other and that your flavors will remain in perfect harmony.

Our Violetta Late Harvest Dessert Wine provides a nice balance between sweetness and acidity – perfect for fruity desserts like tarts or pies, but also with holiday favorites like gingerbread, cheesecake, or a bûche de Noël.

wine glass and wine bottle
wine glass and wine bottle

Zinfandel Pairings: What food pairs well with Zinfandel?

Though Mike Grgich is known as the “King of Chardonnay,” he actually preferred red wines – especially the fellow Croatian expat, Zinfandel (If you didn’t know, Mike was instrumental in the discovery that Zinfandel is descended from Croatian vines, known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kastelanski)! No Grgich family holiday dinner is complete without a bottle of Zinfandel to pair with the wide assortment of foods on the table.

Zinfandel is a particularly good choice for expansive holiday feasts because of the diverse flavor profile that it offers. Though Zinfandels are notorious for being very fruit-forward and jammy, they can also have herbaceous and spicy notes that will become even more pronounced when paired with well-spiced and seasoned cuisine. Favorite pairings include a variety of savory meats (bacon, beef, lamb, and duck are all popular choices) as well as roasted vegetables.

We offer two styles of Zinfandel at Grgich Hills – our Napa Valley Zinfandel and Miljenko’s Old Vine Zinfandel.