Mick Wilson, owner of the popular Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, California, and one of our award-winning Celebration of Wine River Cruise Hosts, provides some expert advice on holiday food and wine pairings.
Pinot Noir is THE red wine to pair with a holiday meal. It’s not too heavy (a big, heavy wine can overpower a meal) yet is has layers of flavor with soft tannins. Find a nice Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Sonoma (Russian River), Santa Rita Hills (Santa Barbara, CA), or even the home of Pinot Noir, the famous Burgundy region in France. A good Pinot is worth spending a tad more, so look at something around $20-40/bottle.
Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite white wine to pair with a holiday meal. It brings the complexity and mouthwatering acidity needed to pair with food. I would lean toward a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with more tropical notes. If you want one with more acidity, go with Sancerre, a Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley in France. But New Zealand offers a great bang for the buck at $15-25 for a nice bottle.
Sparkling wines from anywhere in the world are always a great choice for a festive occasion. My top suggestion would be a Champagne (“Brut” or “Extra Dry” which is a tad sweeter). But Champagne can be pricey, so some other solid suggestions include Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy. Also, try the award-winning sparkling wines from Wilson Creek Winery, including the popular Almond Sparkling Wine, priced around $17/bottle.