As we head into the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to entertain. Whether it’s an intimate dinner party with a few friends, a holiday open house, or a New Year’s Eve bash, the key to a great party is careful planning and preparation. Open your wine cellar and host a party with a menu that includes food and wine pairing options. A selection of wines along with 1-2 items to pair with each, either served at stations around your entertaining space or as separate courses for a seated meal. Start with the lightest white, move your way up to a big, rich red, and the grand finale, a sweet dessert wine.
Get the party started
All holiday celebrations should start with bubbly as guests arrive, it is a fun and festive way to begin. Create a sparkling wine bar for a memorable experience for your guests. Set out your sparkling flutes or stems on a kitchen island or table, add small bowls of fresh fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or even pomegranate seeds. Invite guests to add a bit of fruit to their flute. Pour the bubbly and Salute!
The Pairing: Sparkling wine pairs well with light appetizers, fresh fruit, and mild cheeses. Create a simple charcuterie board with grapes, strawberries, brie, camembert, chevre, and almonds.
Pro Tip: Sparkling wine and champagne should be stored in a cool place and put in the fridge the day before serving to ensure you reach the optimal temperature of 40-50 degrees.
The main event
Sauvignon Blanc | Grenache Blanc | Pinot Grigio these wines are typically lighter white wines with bright, crisp fruit flavors and aromas.
The Pairing: These wines would pair well with the selections from the charcuterie board mentioned above as well as appetizers such as spinach artichoke dip, shrimp cocktail or a brie baked in a pastry with caramelized onions.
Chardonnay | Chenin Blanc | Viognier these tend to be a little heavier bodied, buttery, oaky wines.
The Pairing: These wines would pair well with a starter such as a butternut squash soup, chowder or a green salad dressed with vinaigrette and sliced pears or apples.
Pro Tip: White wines should be served between 52 and 62 degrees. While white wines should be chilled, they should not be stored in the fridge. If you have a temperature-controlled wine cellar store wines there, if not keep them in a cool, dark cabinet or closet. Then move them to the refrigerator a few hours before you plan to serve to ensure proper chill. Did you know? The higher the quality of white wine, the less cold it should be?
Cabernet Sauvignon | Red Meritage | Syrah these red wines will be big, rich, and flavorful.
The Pairing: These wines would pair well with any type of meat, prime rib, roast pork loin, or grilled lamb. Another option might be a tomato-based meat dish or wine braised short ribs.
Pro Tip: We’ve heard that red wine should be served at “room temperature” but did you know that term came about in the days of stone, cold castles not today’s comfy, insulated homes. So, serving red on the cooler side is best – 62 – 68 degrees. If you have a temperature-controlled wine cellar or wine cabinet the wine will be at optimal temperature and ready to serve anytime. If you don’t have a wine cellar, just pop the bottle in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before serving. Don’t put red wine in the fridge for too long or it will become overly tannic and acidic. Be sure to open your red wine at least 30 minutes before serving to ensure it has time to breathe.
Dolcetto | Zin Port | Sauternes these dessert wines are the heaviest of the wines, rich and sweet.
The Pairing: These would pair well with a flourless chocolate cake, cherry, and berry pies or even a simple selection of dark chocolates.
Make the most of this holiday season by hosting a memorable event. Gather a few friends and family members, a great selection of wines and a pairing for each and let the festivities begin.
Proper wine storage
If you have a temperature-controlled wine cellar or wine room, it takes some of the guess work out of storing wine properly. Your red wines can go right from your wine cellar to the table for the perfect temperature. Your white wines will require less time in the fridge to chill. A wine cellar, wine cabinet or wine room is ideal for long-term, wine storage and will ensure the best environment for aging.
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