Our top favorite wines to pair with your favorite holiday foods, social gatherings, or just snuggled by the Christmas tree.
If this list of the best holiday wines was for me, it would be an ’04 Spring Mountain Vineyard Elivette for every category. Hands down. No contest.
Since apparently this isn’t all about me (my mother lied), then I figured it best to make a list of our favorite holiday wines to suit just about everyone.
During the frigid winter months, many turn to bourbon and other dark spirits or warm beverages like a hot toddy to help to take the cold edge off.
Wine is often thought of as a spring/summer libation, however, as the resident wine-o, I’m here to tell you that there is a wine for every season and occasion.
While we love a good summer wine, today is all about winter wines perfect for the holidays. And I'm changing it up a little bit this time around!
Instead of the usual boring wine list, I had a little fun with this one breaking down the best holiday wines to pair with your favorite holiday season activities.
Best All Around Holiday Wine
Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat, shall we? These are my picks for the best holiday wines overall.
Hands down, one of the best red wines to drink during the holidays is Pinot Noir. It is extremely food friendly, meaning it can take on beef, fish, turkey, ham, veggies, spicy, sweet, and anything else you can cook up.
For white wines in winter, something with heavy oak and high ABV at slightly under room temperature, will greatly increase the experience. Stay away from blends and unoaked chards until the weather gets a little warmer.
Best Wine for Sweet Treats
What if I told you, that when it comes to picking a wine to pair with sweets, it’s not just white wine?!
One of the first rules in pairing wine is deciding if you want to contrast or complement the food. When it comes to sweet foods, your first thought is a sweet wine to complement it.
By choosing a contrasting wine, you create two flavor profiles on your palate for an even wilder experience, helping the sweet flavors of your dessert pop.
This is an excellent unassuming cab that is great for pairing with red meat, but also does well pairing with sweets, especially anything with dark berries or fruit-based sauces.
If you've never had a gewurztraminer, this German wine has a very slight sweetness with a wonderful fruit forward nose and slight bubbles. It pairs very well with lighter desserts such as lemon bars or dishes with vanilla and cream.
Best Wine to Give as a Hostess Gift
Let's get one thing out of the way - a bottle of wine as a hostess gift does not need to be a lavish gift but try not to buy it last minute at the gas station, ok?
When going to a dinner party, anytime of the year, don’t be surprised if your host does not open the bottle of wine you brought to the party, unless you were tasked with that specifically.
A good host will have this planned out in advance. If they’re wine snobs like myself, you may even want to do a little research to find out what they like first.
Like I stated before, a good Pinot Noir is a safe bet. The price point is around $30, so it’s not breaking the bank, but it also says you didn’t cheap out, either. It's food friendly, easy to drink, and light on the tannins. Oregon makes the best!
This mostly chardonnay wine is always a big hit. I’ve seen it as low as $20 and as high as $45 largely depending on the vintage. This is a complex white wine that pairs especially well with white fleshed fish, chicken, turkey, vegetables, cream sauces, and charcuterie.
Best Bubbly for Toasting
t’s the holidays and that’s cause for celebration! Whether it’s with family, friends, or both, every get together needs some bubbles!
Champagne (France) and Sparkling Wine (the rest of the world) is priced all over the board. Well, I’ve had Dom Perignon and I wasn’t impressed, especially for the exorbitant price.
Good bubbly doesn’t need to require a co-signer to enjoy.
At around $15 you can’t beat this slightly sweet bubbly from Prosecco, Italy. Pairs well with fruit, cheese, sweets, and goes great in a Mimosa!
That’s right, a sparkling red wine and no it’s not a rose. Full of raspberry and strawberry flavors with notes of fresh rose petals, this will become a staple in your home, guaranteed.
Best Sweet Wine for the Holidays
The best sweet wine for the holidays? It doesn’t exist! Sweet wine is terrible. Ok, I’m just joking (kind of). It may not be my thing, but it is for a lot of people.
Sweet wines tend to get a bad rap because it’s associated with cheapness. Many sweet whites are under 10 bucks, sold everywhere, and will leave you with a terrible headache.
Moscato and Riesling are the two most popular varietals when it comes to sweet white wine.
Ice wine has become increasingly more popular in recent years, sometimes called iced or dessert wine. True ice wine comes with a hefty price tag.
Sweet reds like Port or Sherry are great for a digestif but tend to be on the more expensive side as well.
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine
Ice wine is not just served cold, it’s harvested once the grape vines have frozen, which is why most ice wines come from Canada, Germany, Sweden, etc. This particular one has heavy notes of fresh stone fruit and slight pineapple.
Quinta Das Carvalhas Reserva Tawny
There are many times of port, but Tawny and Ruby are the two most well-known. Ruby is great for cooking, while Tawny is a nice, sweet sipper that can easily replace dessert. Port should be enjoyed in 2oz pours due to the much higher alcohol content.
Bota Box Moscato
To be honest, I don’t drink Moscato. It’s not my thing, however, I have had some great luck with the brand Bota Box. If you and to have a glass or two but don’t want to open a bottle, then grab a Bota Box. At 13 bucks for 3L, you can’t go wrong.
Best Wine for Binge Watching Hallmark Christmas Movies
Being from the Midwest I sometimes forget that not everyone lives in an icy tundra with subzero temperatures for 6 miserable months a year.
Just because you don’t live where it snows, doesn’t mean you can’t get in the spirit with some holiday inspired wine.
This Christmas sangria recipe swaps out the typical summer fruits for more wintery flavors like cranberries and pomegranates. If you want it extra sweet stick with the recipe. If you want it less sweet, try swapping out the Riesling for a California Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be swimming in this spiced mulled wine recipe all winter long. Mulled wine will warm you right up. It’s also great for parties because you can keep it warm in the crockpot. Tip: Don’t bother using an expensive bottle of wine. Go cheap!
Best Wine for Impressing Your In-Laws
We’ve all been in a similar boat when it comes to the in-laws. Each visit is as nerve racking as the last, but you want to get it right.
Your significant other tells you their parents huge into wine and don’t drink anything cheap. You see this as an opportunity to impress them with a great bottle that will knock their socks off.
Just don’t want to set the bar too high just yet.
You simply cannot go wrong with an Amarone. Sure, there were cheaper options, but what goes into these wines is extensive and it shows you likely know a little bit about wine. Fake it until to make it!
Big heavy cabs will always impress. If they’re even the slight bit snobbish about their wines, then Tapestry will certainly make for a great gift.
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Ryan is a food and writer from Toledo, Ohio where he's had a love affair with food since 1984. When he's not cooking or writing, he's planning the next he wants to eat.Tags: Wine, Champagne, Holidays, Entertaining, Christmas, Thanksgiving