It’s Wine Wednesday and with Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to plan the next round of dinner parties and gatherings. To help, I’ve put together some holiday dining and wine pairing tips.

cheese board

Cheese and charcuterie boards are perfect to have prior to a dinner party. They are good for conversation and snacking. For wine pairing tips, try sparking wines, rose, or a fruity red.

If you’re like me, you leave things to the last minute and prepping  for guests becomes a hellish whirlwind. I’m hoping to avoid that this year by actually doing some advanced planning. It makes life so much easier.

There are a couple of ways to go about things if you are a food and wine person. Make a list of things you want to serve. For instance, if there is a special wine, a special vintage, write it down. Build a dish around the bottle.

However, if there is a dish you are dying to cook, write that down first. Then find a wine to compliment its flavors. Take your gathering to another level and serve each course on it’s own, pairing a wine with each dish.

You can have as few as three or as many courses as you want. It’s not as hard as it sounds and can be a fun for both the host and the guests.

It’s typical to build a meal lightest dish to heaviest. Perhaps begin with ceviche, a salad or even a small cup of soup. From here you can go anywhere, a hearty vegetable dish, a protein, or if you want to keep it simple, one plate with sides included.

Dinner parties are not occasions to skip desserts. This is an easy third course if you want to keep things simple.

With multiple courses, go easy on the wine pours to start. Try to keep them around 4 ounces, not a full glass. If guests like the wine, they can always have more. If they don’t prefer the pairing, less wine is  wasted. Always drink responsibly.

Here are some holiday dining and wine pairing tips for Wine Wednesday

  • While you're cooking

    Wine wednesday portugalIt’s important for the home chef to stay hydrated and inspired while cooking. A crisp white not only gets the job done, it also comes in handy if you need a splash to deglaze a pan.

    Bico Amarelo Vinho Verde from Esporao in Portugal is not your average Vinho Verde. It has a little more body than most but it is still fresh, fruity, floral and slightly effervescent. For $12 it is a best buy and also something you should keep around for your next pool day.

  • Rose all day

    Nest RoseRose is a fantastic welcome wine. It’s good for salty appetizers, cheese boards and charcuterie that you might have out prior to dinner.

    I had this one from Scout and Cellar over Thanksgiving with a a cheese board and it was perfect. It’s a blend of primitivo and sangiovese that has lots of bright red fruit, nice acidity, and goes down easy.

    This wine is part of a holiday gift set ($119) that has something for everyone. The set also includes 2021 Conte de la Terre Pinot Gris and 2021 Dove Hunt Dog Pinot Noir to make that dinner party easy.

    The winery has another set that includes a sparkling wine, syrah and more.

  • Classic white

    H ChardonnayThere might be guests who only drink white wine so it’s good to have some on hand, even if it is not your jam. There are so many great white wines that are good with food. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just read the tasting notes to see what it might go well with.

    Chardonnay is one of the most well known white wines and it comes in a range of flavor profiles. I just tried Head High is from Sonoma. I love the moniker on the back: Head High Be Committed. It’s a brand that gives back to social and environmental organizations. This 2020 chardonnay is acidic and bright but has some weight still brûlée’s banana. $22

  • Lighter style red

    Pinot noir is one of the best food wines you’ll find. And just like some folks who only drink white, others stick to red. This is a superb wine that can transition from lighter dishes, where you might serve white, to more complex dishes well suited for red.
    Wine Pairing pinot
    Cabernet lovers know the name Far Niente. The winery also makes a pinot noir called EnRoute. The 2019  “Les Pommiers” is from Russian River Valley and it is spectacular. With red fruits, spice and balance acidity, it’s silky, seamless and one you’ll be sad about it when it’s all gone. Buy it solo for $60 or for the holidays it comes in an awesome Estate Collection gift set for $465.

  • Big red

    If there is one thing retailers are rarely short on, it’s big red wines and for many, cab is king. That is Cabernet Sauvignonwine Wednesday wine paring

    If you like a cab that is not over extracted, not sweet but a classic, solid wine, the 2018 Gamble Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has your name on it. It’s youthful with red fruits and a little cigar box. $60
    Gamble Family Vineyards farmer and proprietor Tom Gamble recently co-launched Million Trees Napa, a non-profit program focused on improving the health and resilience of Napa County’s diverse forests through planting and stewardship.
  • Dessert

    Port

    Norman Love chocolates with port wine is a homer for dessert.

    I hear people say all of the time, I don’t like sweet dessert wine. Perhaps it’s because they have had a bad one, or one that was served improperly. These wines should not be sweeter than your dessert. They are brilliant if  you opt for a dessert that includes cheese, perhaps with some dark chocolate and maybe some honey and dried fruits. Oh my yum.

    wine pairing bubbles

    Sparkling wines are good to start and end your meal. The sound of that cork popping also makes for a festive finish. I tried Brendel Young Leon Frizzante Rose for the first time over Thanksgiving and it fit the bill on all levels. It had flavors of strawberries and sunshine, if you could bottle sunshine that is. Even those at the dinner who typically don’t care for sparklers, or rose for that matter, wanted more of this one. $38