2016 gives us exactly a month from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and Christmas. That’s 30 days of merriment and cheer at all your various holiday events, plus your own celebratory dinners. Of course, each cocktail hour, office party, and festive meal is most likely going to include multiple choices for wine. But what to put in your glass when you’re snacking on the veggie platter, or when you give into the dessert table?
Opt for lighter, crisper, possibly bubblier wines here. Good-quality Champagne will never hurt during opening nibbles, and you can feel confident asking for something on the dry side. If you’re enticed by the crudité, see if there’s a French or South African Chenin Blanc available; if not, ask for a Beaujolais Nouveau. If shrimp, fresh oysters or sushi is being passed around, look for a Vinho Verde Alvarinho. Amazingly, during those heavier meals with latkes and cheese plates (we recommend the French Laundry’s Gougères recipe), you’ll still want to go with a sparkling Blanc de Blancs or even a Cava.
Hearty stews, succulent meats and all of the roasted vegetables are de rigueur from here until 2017 (and possibly well into the new year). For all of these things, you’ll want to reach for fuller-bodied wines from southern France and Spain. Look for a Kosher Cabernet Sauvignon to serve with that brisket dinner coming your way on December 24th. The same could be served the next night with Christmas’ roast beef, or, if you want to be different, try a Syrah. Speaking of that area of the world, and especially if the weather turns before then, cassoulet and a great Languedoc red could be on your mind; specifically a Carignan. For the vegetable-lovers among us, a lightly-oaked Sauvignon Blanc from California will do nicely.
Sugar is what the holidays are all about, right? You filled up on pie and ice cream at Thanksgiving. You probably have at least one cookie swap on the calendar, and sugar cookies will literally make the world go-round until sometime in the first week of January. If you’re feeling that pumpkin pie again (and you should because it’s delicious), look for a spicy Gewürztraminer to bring out those cinnamon and clove notes. That same bottle will work for apple pie, but you could also take a chance on tawny port. The years of aging in wooden casks infuse the port with caramel, plum, and raisin flavors, complementing but not overwhelming your pie. If you get a richer chocolate treat on your plate, go for a ruby port. Those are aged more in the bottle than in casks, allowing for fresh, fruity berry notes. Also, they tend to be a good introduction to ports, both taste and cost-wise.