The Right Wine for the Meal, How to Choose?

Dec 30, 2020


The holiday season brings fun, family, merrymaking and perhaps some stress. Whether it is your first-time hosting or fortieth, the holidays can bring challenges you don’t deal with during the rest of the year. Coordinating various personalities and doing so on a timeline can make even small decisions feel like monumental tasks. This would including pairing wine with your holiday meals; however, it doesn’t have to. The following are a few different approaches to serving and pairing wine.

A Classic Approach

This strategy is sure to please your Aunt Gladys and can align with various tastes and budgets. Painting in broad strokes, pair lighter foods with lighter wines and heavier foods with heavier wines. In even simpler terms, white wine goes with turkey and red wine goes with beef. Ideally, this would mean a richer white for turkey and a bold red for beef. Even if you know nothing about wine, these basic definitions should be able to help you make a selection just by reading the labels at the supermarket. Plus, it is always a good idea to keep a drinkable, middle of the road bottle of red and white available during the holiday season.

To serve, white wine should be chilled. Placing it in the refrigerator before opening is your best bet. Fridge stuffed with holiday food? Depending on the climate of where you live, you might be able to place white wine outside of your backdoor to give it the proper chill. Just don’t let it freeze! True wine enthusiast will give specific temperatures for each varietal, but as a rule of thumb, just chill white wine. Pour into a stemmed white wine glass, such as our Personalized White Wine Estate Glasses, for the perfect sip. The length of the stem helps to keep the wine at a cooler temperature since the actual bowl is farther away from your hand.

Red wine should be served just below room temperature. Unless it is a pinot noir which we will discuss a bit later. Again, you can stick it in the fridge for a quick chill, but don’t store a red in the fridge. Serve in a red wine glass. Red wine glasses, like our Personalized Red Wine Estate Glasses, feature a larger bowl than what is found on white wine glasses. This allows the wine to interact more with the air helping it to “open up,” the nuanced aromas.

The Modern Approach

Like everything else in life, wine trends change. More people are choosing to blur the classic wine pairings in favor of serving the en vogue wine of the moment. The move started with abandoning the heavy white with turkey and going with a pinot noir or a Beaujolais Nouveau. Someone is reading this and thinking, “we always had a pinot with turkey, old news.” Now, even those choices are being abandoned for extra dry sparkling wines or even orange wines with turkey. Sure, serving an orange wine with a slight sparkle might leave Aunt Gladys clutching her pearls, but it will pair with everything on your Thanksgiving table and look beautiful.

Sparkling wines have several different glasses depending on a variety of factors but should be served chilled. Again, we are taking a much broader approach here. If you have limited space, budget and are not a wine aficionado, a champagne flute or stemmed white wine glass is perfectly fine for a sparkling wine.

Pinot noirs should be served with a slight chill, less than a traditional white, more than your heavy red. Most prefer to serve pinot noir in a red wine glass, but a white wine glass will work in a pinch as a pinot is lighter than “big” reds. This is also the perfect opportunity to use your personalized stemless red wine glasses!

The 2020 Approach

Maybe your holiday looks a little different this year. Maybe you can’t see all the friends and family you normally would or are having a Zoom holiday. Perhaps, you can’t bring yourself to cook a full Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings for yourself or your small pod. We get that too! If your Thanksgiving plans include your favorite carryout, watching the Lions lose, and chilling on the couch, we have some paring suggestions for this plan as well.

Start the day with a strong coffee in a festive mug. A shot of your favorite coffee liquor is optional. A generous serving of whipped cream is highly recommended. If this holiday is going to be non-traditional you might as well make it as fun as possible! If you are going with Thai carryout we recommend a sweet white such as a Riesling. For Chinese, a Gamay speaks to us. For pizza, we recommend any wine that makes you happy! Honestly, for pizza there a so many wines that work well, pick your favorite. Serve in celebratory glassware, such as our Snowflake Stemless Wine Glasses for a holiday that is sure to be merry and bright.

The Holiday Season

There are many opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry throughout the holiday season. Don’t let choosing the right wine and glass bring stress to your life. Look at it as an adventure where you can discover something new you really enjoy. This holiday, more than any other, is a time to let your hair down and do what feels right. Even if that is Two Buck Chuck out of a chipped coffee mug!