The Wandering Wino Blog

Holiday Wines

Christmas Table Setting

When it comes to holiday entertaining, one of the most common questions I hear this time of year is, "What wines should I have during the holidays?" A key aspect to consider of course is: what foods are you serving? 

One of the most common food entrees this time of year seems to be turkey. There are so many various side dishes that could be served ranging from sweet and rich yams to Italian acidic red sauces and every other type of food in-between. While there may be no wine that pairs with everything on your holiday plate, the turkey is the driver. In my estimation there are three categories for the hosts style or approach that can be taken in the wine selection.

  1. The Traditionalist
  2. The Gambler
  3. Calculated Risk Taker

For the traditionalist seeking good 'ole fashion wines to pair with the holiday bird, just see the grocery store ads for a reminder of the varietals most commonly served. I always suggest wine purchases either direct from the winery or a good wine shop that can help direct their customer and offer quality hand crafted wines.


Presqu'ile SIP


  • Chardonnay - Presqui'le Santa Maria Valley $35, Shafer Los Carneros $50, La Fenentre Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley $60. Low cost grocery store option: Meridian $6-$10

La Fenentre Chardonnay

    • Pinot Noir - Storm Santa Maria Valley $40, Alma Rosa 115 Sta Rita Hills $35, Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Willamette Valley $60, Cornerstone Willamette Valley, Dunah Russian River Valley, Low cost option: Caste Rock $7-$12


      Domain Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

        • Bubbles - anything called sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava, or Preseco. 


        The Gambler: These wines are some of my personal favorite choices for this particular meal that would pair well. Just be prepared with a $8 bottle of grocery store Chardonnay for aunt Millie who is very traditional. 

        • Grenache Blanc - Two Shepherds Santa Ynez (Ballard Canyon) $22, Tercero (Santa Ynez) $20

        Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc

        • Rhone White Blends - Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastle $40 (Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc) Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc $25

        Tablas Creek

        • Gewurztraminer
        • Roussanne
        • Rioja/Tempranillo

        Tercero Cuvee Christine

        • GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) -  Tercero Christine Santa Ynez $30, Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas $20, Zaca Mesa Z-Cuvee $18

        Calculated Risk-Taker:

        • Rose - Unti (Sonoma) $22, Ampelos (Sta Rita Hills), Liquid Farm (Sta Rita Hills) Victor Hugo (Paso Robles)
        • Riesling - Dr Loosen $20
        • Grenache - Tercero Santa Ynez $30 Low cost options: Look to Spainish options for Tres Pecos or Las Rocas Garnacha $15

        A common aspect to consider when attempting to pair foods is that Pinot Noir almost always works. Ice cream and cereal may be some of the few exceptions. A great alternative to Pinot Noir that is too often overlooked is Grenache that also pairs well with many different types of foods. Step out of your comfort zone and try some new wines. Wine simply makes food more fun and taste better.  

        What wines do you like for your holiday meal?  

        Many of these wines we discussed during "wine-time" on air November 25, 2012. The podcast can be heard from If you are in the "805" listen in Sat mornings from 7:00-9:00 AM.


        • Josh Klapper
          Posted Thursday 29 November 2012 02:14
          Great post, and thanks for the holiday plug! As a former sommelier, I would say these are perfect holiday selections... Cheers!

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