For some people it’s all about the presents on Christmas day, but for us, it’s clinking glasses and sitting at the table with family and friends.
Of course, no holiday feast is complete without wine. But not every wine will work for your Christmas dinner! Luckily, we’ve gathered some red and white options to perfectly pair with your holiday meal so everyone has the type of wine they like AND a wine that doesn’t overpower or undersell your best Christmas dish.
So grab a shopping list, add a red and a white, and check it twice before leaving the store!
Ham is a perfect entrée for almost any style of wine, but nothing beats a Chenin Blanc and Zinfandel. Fruity flavors, sweetness, and citrus is what we’re going for here to match a salty/sweet glaze. Both of these wines will add a punch to your Christmas dinner, and everyone will be happy with their glass of vino — guaranteed.
If you’re lucky enough to experience a beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner, then you better go all-out with rich, flavorful wines. Chardonnay is typically too heavy for most dishes, but a beautiful plate of tender beef? That’s worth opening a bottle for — even better if the tenderloin is topped with a cream sauce. As for the red, many would work well here, but we’re partial to a bottle of Bordeaux. These wines are bold and smooth like a Cabernet Sauvignon, but not quite as overpowering so you can actually taste the dish … and have your wine too.
According to tradition, this Thanksgiving meal goes on repeat for the Christmas season (but who’s complaining about a pile of turkey and mashed potatoes … not us). Match your wine to this relatively healthy meal with Champagne and a Pinot Noir. The bubbly carbonation of the wine balances wonderfully with a crisp skin of a turkey leg. But if a red is more your style, don’t listen to anyone that says it doesn’t pair with poultry. Pinot Noir goes best with a bird, and a turkey works just great.
If you’re dishing up shrimp scampi, scallops, or lobster tails with butter during your Christmas dinner, consider the all-around winner, Pinot Grigio. This light white wine is extremely versatile, and pairs wells with almost any fish, shellfish, or seafood. Chianti is the best red choice. Traditionally an Italian table wine, this red is ready for whatever flavors you throw its way.
Hearty vegetarian Christmas dishes deserve a wine that can work with plenty of spices and fresh herbs. While Rosé isn’t technically a white wine (go with a Sauvignon Blanc if that’s what you’re looking for), it’s a lighter-colored wine that adds a pink flair to a colorful spread of fruits and veggies. Plus, it’s great with fresh dishes. But if bold is what you want, pick up a Syrah for tasting notes that bring out the peppery, earthy, and rich flavors of your best vegetarian mains during your holiday dinner.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.