Turn your holiday meal into an extraordinary experience with some sensational wine choices.

Mick Wilson, owner of the popular Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, California, and one of our award-winning wine cruise hosts, provides some expert advice on holiday food and wine pairings.

RED

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.

WHITE

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

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.

TWO QUICK TIPS

Match the weights.
Pair heavy food with heavier richer wines, lighter food with lighter wines. Try to avoid wines with high alcohol (above 13%) as the alcohol can overpower a wine. The wine and food should complement one another.

Offer more than just one wine.
It can be challenging to find one wine that’s a perfect match for all courses and everyone’s tastes. My suggestion is to get a few wines. Start off with an elegant Sparkling wine as an aperitif, then follow it with a crisp white (Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling), and a delicate, fresh and fruity red like Pinot Noir. Finish with a dessert wine that complements pumpkin or pecan pie, like a Sauternes from France, Tokaji from Hungary, Ice Wine from Canada or Moscato d’Asti from Italy.

Join expert wine hosts from North America in comparing old world with new world wines on AmaWaterways exclusive wine cruises.

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