Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so there’s no better time to bring out the good wines!
But what wine should you serve with Christmas dinner? That can be a difficult question to answer. Luckily, I am a certified sommelier who can help! I have over 10+ years of experience in the wine industry, and I love both Christmas and wine.
In this article, I’ll list eight of my favorite wines to serve with Christmas dinner, along with the reasons why they work so well.
1. Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Caymus’s cabernet sauvignon is my top pick for a Christmas dinner wine. This Napa Valley wine has intense fruit flavors of blackberry, cherry, and plum that are complemented by spices like clove, vanilla, and oak. It’s a rich and full-bodied red wine that pairs perfectly with beef wellington, prime rib, or meatloaf.
The high tannins in this wine will help cut through the proteins in the meat and make it juicier. And in turn, the meat will also help smooth out the tannins, making the wine more velvety and elegant.
Pro Tip: When looking for a good value cabernet sauvignon, some of the best value wine regions would be Paso Robles, California, and Columbia Valley, Washington.
2. Cavaliere D’Oro Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2019
At many of the Christmas gatherings I have attended, there have been Italian dishes like pasta and lasagna served. And there is no better pairing for Italian food than Italian wine.
This particular chianti classico is an excellent Italian wine that can be paired with a variety of dishes. It has both red and dark fruit flavors like cherries and blackberries. There are also notes of tobacco, leather, and earthiness. This makes it a great pairing for heartier Italian dishes like meaty lasagnas and pastas, as well as earthier dishes like lamb and mushroom risotto.
Pro Tip: Try pairing wine and food that come from the same place/region. This is my number one food and wine pairing tip!
3. Emmolo Merlot 2018
Merlot is always a good option for Christmas dinner because it’s a very food-friendly wine with soft tannins and fruit-forward flavors. The soft tannins will not overwhelm the flavors of the various types of food, and in fact, the fruit flavors of wine will be complemented by many Christmas dishes.
If you’re looking for a merlot that is both fruit-forward and complex, then look no further than Emmolo Merlot. This wine is made in Napa Valley, which is one of the best wine regions in the world for merlot.
This merlot has intense flavors of blackberry and blueberry, with hints of chocolate, spice, and vanilla. These flavors make it an excellent pairing for roasted turkey, ham, or beef tenderloin.
Pro Tip: How do you choose between a cabernet sauvignon and a merlot? Merlot is typically more fruit-forward and approachable, while Cabernet has more tannins and a fuller body.
4. Fento Albariño 2021
If you’re planning on serving seafood for Christmas dinner, then albariño is the best choice. It pairs perfectly with seafood dishes. Albariño has a refreshing acidity with a hint of effervescence and saltiness, followed by a gently bitter aftertaste.
If you are having fresh lobster, crab, fish, or clams, the dish will pair best with a light-body albariño wine with refreshing acidity. The seafood and wine won’t overpower each other, and the salinity of the wine will actually bring out the flavors of the seafood. Therefore, this albariño is a perfect pairing for your seafood dishes!
Some other good wines to pair with seafood are New Zealand sauvignon blancs or other crisp and refreshing white wines.
Pro Tip: There are two primary albariño wine regions: Rías Baixas and Vinho Verde. And “Verde” is not pronounced “Ver-day.” The region’s full pronunciation is “Veen-yo Vaird,” with only one syllable on the Verde.
5. Stags’ Leap Petite Sirah 2019
I’m a big fan of petite sirah, and I think it’s an underrated wine. It’s perfect for Christmas dinner because it’s a full-bodied wine with flavors of dark fruits, like blackberry and plum, as well as chocolate and a pepper spice to it.
The weight of this wine allows it to stand up to heartier meats like prime rib, roast beef, or roast lamb. Also, the spices of the wine will complement the stuffing, and the acidity will help to cut through the richness of the meat.
Pro Tip: Petite sirah is related to, but not identical to, syrah. Also known as durif in California and Australia, petite sirah is a red wine grape that was created in the 19th century by crossing two varieties of grapes: syrah and peloursin.
6. Ruinart Champagne N.V.
There’s nothing quite like Champagne to ring in the holiday season! And what better way to celebrate than with a glass of Ruinart Champagne?
This Champagne has intense aromatics of white flowers and citrus, followed by flavors of honeysuckle, apricot, and brioche. The wine’s bubbles and acidity cleanse your palate between each bite, making it the perfect drink to pair with all sorts of foods that you’ll find on your Christmas dinner table.
So whether you’re serving seafood, poultry, meat, or even just cheese and charcuterie, Ruinart Champagne is a great choice.
Pro Tip: If you’re a fan of Champagne’s taste but not its price tag, then go for a crémant or cava instead. Because both types of wines use the same method of production (traditional/Champagne method), they have a similar taste and texture.
7. Trisaetum Riesling 2020
For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, Chinese food is often a go-to option since most Chinese restaurants are open during the holidays.
Pairing riesling with Chinese food is one of my favorite pairings. The sweetness of the wine helps to offset the heat and spiciness of the dishes, while the acidity cuts through the richness of the many different sauces found in Chinese cuisine.
And Trisaetum riesling is a great choice because it has flavors of green apples and honeysuckle, with a touch of sweetness. This makes it the perfect pairing for dishes like General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, or orange chicken.
- Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling
- Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi Dry Riesling
- Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Muscat de Beaulieu
Pro Tip: If your Christmas feast includes any spicy dishes, look for a wine that is slightly sweet to help balance out the spices and enhance the flavors.
8. Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2019
Pinot noir is my go-to red wine when it comes to holiday dinners because it pairs well with so many different dishes.
The reason pinot noir pairs well with lean meats like turkey and ham is because of its light body, low tannins, and higher acidity. The acidity helps to cut through the fat of the meat, making it a lighter and more refreshing pairing.
This pinot noir also boasts flavors of tart red fruits, such as cherries, raspberries, and cranberries. Therefore, it pairs well with dishes that contain cranberry sauce or a sweet and savory glaze. The wine will actually help bring out all the flavors of the dish.
Pro Tip: When looking for a pinot noir, consider these three famous wine-growing regions: Burgundy, Willamette Valley, and Sonoma. Or take a chance on Santa Rita Hills in California — it might just be your new favorite hidden gem region for pinot noir wines!