The holidays are the perfect time to explore new pours and other festive beverages we’ve heard about all year long. We turned to some of our trusted wine fiends for their picks to celebrate the next few weeks and into the new year, and, of course, they delivered. Surely there’s a pairing here perfect for your plate and palate as you plan to entertain and dine with friends and family. Take a look at some of these selections from some of the top professionals in the wine industry — you might just find your new sip special or even an old personal favorite.
A food and beverage industry professional for more than 20 years, Pitts has been featured in Wine & Spirits Magazine, Tasting Panel and numerous news and industry publications. Based in San Francisco, she is also a judge for the San Francisco International Wine Competition and is a tasting panelist for Wine and Spirits Magazine. Among her picks are:
Champagne Mousse Fils, Terre D’Illite, Brut, Vallée de la Marne 2013: A blend of pinot meunier and pinot noir, the flavor profile is red berries, white nectarine, white flowers with clay and limestone notes. It’s absolutely beautiful and works with so many dishes.
Quinta do Covela, Edicao Nacional, Avesso, Vinho Branco, Vinho Verde 2018: A dynamic white with aromas of white grapefruit, Meyer lemon, dried herbs, dried fruit and mineral. It’s a quaffer but works well with seafood, poultry and vegetables.
Penfolds Tumbarumba Chardonnay, Australia 2018: Aromas of fresh pear, candied apple, blood orange, Moroccan lemon and fresh acidity. This works with fresh seafood, cooked seafood stew, duck and cornbread stuffing.
Kutch, Bohan Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2017: Aromas of black raspberries, dark strawberries, roasted rhubarb, pink roses, crushed herbs and salty caramels. Pairs well with duck, goose, lamb and yes, prime rib.
Tymphany Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2013: Aromas of blackberries, dried blueberries, spiced dark chocolate, dried bay leaf and silky tannins. Pair with a roaring fire, a hearty dish and the cold weather.
Based in New York City, Springfield hosts “Wine Stylings,” where he provides wine education, wine events, and more. “As a wine lover, there is often no rhyme or reason for what is in my glass at any given time. But overall, what is typically found in my glass is something I consider delicious, unusual, special and/or personal,” he says as he shares his options:
Gruet Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, New Mexico: A beautiful and inexpensive sparkling wine, typically under $20 per bottle, made from pinot noir. Bright, lush and a fun way to start any dinner, party or event.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre; Sancerre, France: I like the freshness that a sauvignon blanc grape from this mineral-driven region brings to my palate. A nice way to wake up my palate and keep it engaged as sometimes the wines and food have a tendency to be a little too much of the same.
Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay, Napa, California: The fruit notes are ripe apricot, apple, pear, along with toasted oak and a hint of vanilla. And then there are the delicious, balanced butterscotch and caramel notes that work well when paired with some of the heavier dishes.
Love Drunk Rosé by Maison Noir, Oregon: Made from pinot noir grapes, which gives you hints of cranberries, strawberries and tart cherries. Works remarkably well with a variety of holiday dishes, from ham to dressing, and created by one of the most talented Black winemakers in America at the moment, Andre Mack.
Licatta Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy: Raekwon, of the Wu-Tang Clan, decided to create his own Lambrusco, and though fun to drink on its own, it will also pair nicely with many holiday dishes or can even be served as part of the dessert course after the meal.
An advocate for wine and its appreciation, Johnson believes it’s all about an individual’s palate and preference and an understanding of the origin of the grapes, the geography of the region, and the winemaking process itself. She hosts wine classes and events in Virginia and shares some of her favorites:
Brown Estate Zinfandel: I love the big fruit bombs and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s like silk in a glass and pairs well with everything that I am eating this holiday season.
Exclusive White: My own proprietary blend is what brings my friends together. A perfect trifecta of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and colombard is a great bridge wine that connects those who prefer it fruitier with those who love the dry whites.
Leo Hillinger Small Hill Red: One of my favorites from Austria and the sleek bottle only requires a bow to make it the perfect gift.
Shoe Crazy Wine’s Sweet Bella: This sweet delight pairs great with my favorite dessert… chocolate. And if you’re watching calories, drop the cake and drink the wine. Sweet, fruity and lightly effervescent. A celebration on its own.
Miguel’s Ruby Port: During the winter, this is my finale. Pairs nicely with a cigar or just by itself. Relaxation in a glass.
Georgia-based Dubose has more than a decade of experience in the wine industry and currently represents two luxury California wineries. Through her efforts to educate about wine, she makes wines relatable to one’s personal lifestyle, whether for a novice or an oenophile. Here are her choices:
McBride Sisters Sparkling Brut Rosé, New Zealand: Cost-effective bubbly and food-friendly with a nice balance of residual sugar to be a crowd pleaser.
Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec, Champagne, France: Celebratory/NYE Champagne! Delicately sweet, but not cloying thanks to its high acidity. Definitely worth the splurge.
2018 Bodega Chacra Sin Azufre Pinot Noir, Argentina: Organic and biodynamically grown vines. Extremely food-friendly and fruit-forward wine.
2016 Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron, France: Fresh notes of citrus, white peach, and white flowers. Pair this aligoté with shellfish and chicken.
2018 La Fete du Rosé, France: Beautifully complex premium rosé of grenache, mourvedre, and syrah. Ripe flavors and aromas of cherry, strawberry, under-ripe peach, and white flowers.
“I love to pair wines with occasions, emotions and poetry,” says Rousseau, the author of “Searching for Cloves and Lilies: The Wine Edition.” “The wines and cocktails that I pair with the holiday spirit go against the norm. However, if it’s party time, I say choose drinks that are food-friendly and joyful.” Her top picks include:
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé: It’s balanced, creamy delicious and under $25 per bottle. Perfect pairing for holiday meals. Try it with sweet potatoes, ham and smoked salmon.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires: A vintage blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay) this champagne is a game-changer. Rich, complex, and so good it may bring you to tears.
Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2018: Grenache is one of my go-to red wines to serve for the holidays and beyond. The wine is juicy and fleshy, with dark berry flavors.
And here’s a quick holiday recipe from her as well!
A Barrell of Laughs Holiday Punch
I love the Barrell Bourbon Batch 21 neat, but decided to make a cocktail as it has notes of cider, apricots, macadamia orange blossom, honey and light cardamom-cinnamon spice. Perfect for mixing with ginger, pear and cranberry in the cocktail.
3 cups Barrell Bourbon Batch 21
3 cups cranberry juice
5 cups apple-pear ginger Italian soda (Whole Foods)
1 small apple, sliced
1 small orange, sliced
pack of rosemary for garnish
Build in pitcher adding all ingredients except for the rosemary. To get the most flavor from the fruit, store in the refrigerator for two hours. Add ice to pitcher before serving. Add one rosemary sprig per glass.