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Picking the Right Wine for Christmas Dinner: Wine 101

christmas dinner wine

Tradition is a big part of any holiday meal. Whether you serve a ham or turkey on the big day probably has a lot to do with the tradition that was passed down to you from your family. But no matter what you put on your table, there’s a wine for that!




If you’re serving …


Probably one of the most traditional entrees, a smoked ham is usually accompanied by a sweet coating, like honey — or cherry and pomegranate. In this case, wines with smokiness or oak aging will be the best to complement dinner.


Try Syrah, a traditional pairing for baked ham, or a Grenache, which has a sweet fruit flavor that will work with a glazed ham.


Two to try:

De Morgenzon DMZ Syrah, $14

Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha, $18




If you’re serving

Roast Turkey

While typically more of a Thanksgiving entree, turkey sometimes makes its way into other holiday meals as well. Much like goose, pairing this bird depends so much on the sides — which may include a stuffing or a dressing of some sort.


A Tendre-style Vouvray, a great value wine made from the Chenin Blanc grape from France, is just sweet enough to fit nicely with this dinner. If you’d prefer a red, opt for a California Zinfandel to get an elegant but fruit-filled selection that’ll work with all the flavors on your holiday table.


Two to try:

Domaine du Viking Vouvray Tendre, $14

Karly Zinfandel Pokerville, $13




If you’re serving

Roast Beef


Beef is the richest of red meats, and a well-marbled, flavorful roast is perhaps the ultimate foil for your richest red wines. Go big on tannins and acidity here, and you’ll be rewarded with a match worthy of a big holiday.


Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which can be robust, full-bodied wines, are excellent partners for roast beef.


Two to try:

Jettlynn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, $28

Catena Zapata Alta Malbec, $39



If you’re serving

Roast Goose

Another long-running tradition, roast goose is well suited to be paired with wine. And the pairing can depend as much on the stuffing and sauce as it does on the goose. One thing is for sure, this bird is richer and more flavorful than your typical turkey, so try and find a rich and flavorful wine to match.


A Chardonnay, especially a white Burgundy, or a Pinot Gris from Alsace, France, would both work well.


Two to try:

Pierre Matrot Bourgogne Chardonnay, $19

Paul Blanck Pinot Gris, $24




If you’re serving

Roast Duck

Roast duck is a good dish for a small gathering. It takes very well to fruity glazes and marinades, making it a happy match for fruitier wines. Since duck can be fatty, the best pairing will be with a wine that combines fruit with acidity.


Cabernet Franc definitely has this balance. Another solid fit would be a California Pinot Noir.


Two to try:

Tousey Cabernet Franc Reserve, $22

Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir, $30





If you’re serving

Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin can be looked at a bit like a blank slate. Keeping the other flavors on the table light and fresh makes it easier to pair a complementary wine.


Once again, you can’t go wrong with Pinot Gris, which is both fruity and spicy. In addition, Teroldego, a red wine from Northern Italy, has a lovely combo of wild berry and spice.


Two to try:

Alsace Willm Pinot Gris Reserve, $14

Cantina MezzaCorona Teroldego Reserva, $18



– Gregory Dal Piaz,




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