With the holidays just ahead, meal planning and wine selections are in full swing. It’s a great time to remember that good wine is the perfect complement to any holiday meal. And these days, savvy hosts know there’s more to think about than the main course.

Amazing tips for wine selections from the first course to last.


For cheesy items, consider Cava, a sparkling vintage from the Catalonia region of Spain. It’s available in white and rosé varieties.

More of a caviar person? Try some Prosecco from Italy. It’s a more affordable alternative to champagne that comes in spumante (sparkling), frizz ante (semi-sparkling) and tranquil (still) versions.

And nothing goes with fried foods better than a Vintage Brut.

Main course

For many families, a meal built around beef is both a tradition and a treat. Also, a tradition is a glass of rich, red Cabernet Sauvignon. These days, beef is prepared in new and interesting ways for special occasions. So while a good Cab is an old standby, more adventurous types might want to consider experimenting. If the beef is more savory, a tannin-heavy, full-bodied Syrah (also known as Shiraz) might be just the thing. Zinfandel is a good choice if the meat is cooked in the style of Mongolia, Korea or Japan.

Ham is a popular holiday dish that is usually prepared the same way year in and year out. It has a reliable sweet-and-salty flavor that is surprisingly versatile. Hosts can’t go wrong when choosing a wine. Ham pairs well with both whites (think Riesling and Chenin Blanc) and reds (Pinot Noir and Zinfandel). Why not unleash your creativity and offer your guests a few varieties?

If the main dish is a pork roast, however, you could consider a Chardonnay.

Turkey might be the other most familiar main dish meat of the holiday season. Turkey preparation has not changed much over the years and it rivals ham when it comes to wine compatibility. Whether roasted, grilled or smoked, turkey can be well paired with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Beaujolais or even a dry American rosé.

Let’s not forget holiday meals in Italian households. Meat lasagna calls for a hearty Chianti, Barolo or Barbera. If you don’t mind a taste of Spain, check out a Rioja.

Vegetarian main dishes can vary in taste and texture. Some of the most popular are from the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, primarily Morocco. If your recipe uses that area’s distinctive spices (cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric), check out wines from the Rioja region of Spain.

Going for a soufflé main dish? Uncork a refreshing, chilled Pinot Grigio.


A great holiday dinner deserves a grand finale, and dessert wines help make it happen.

For creamy desserts like tortes, Passito is perfecto. The product of Italy features a rich and honey-like taste.

For fruit-full dishes or whole fruit, try Moscato d’Asti. This Italian vintage is known for its aromas of stone fruit ( peaches, nectarines, plums, lychees, mangoes, cherries), tangerines and honey.

Desserts with nuts or heavier-tasting fruit such as dates will benefit from a glass of Tokaji, a flavorful honeyed wine from Tokaj, Hungary.

And remember to offer guests a cup of coffee for the road.

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Written by Audrey DeSisto