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Wine Pairings for Almost Every Holiday Dish

What to pour no matter what you're serving.


Every year you cook and indulge in the same heavy dishes and seasonal treats that are tied like a bow to the season. This year, add some new flavors to the holiday palate—or perhaps even get out of cooking altogether—by bringing the perfect wine to the table. Here is a comprehensive wine pairing guide to everything from turkey and mashed potatoes to pumpkin pie. 

Dish: mashed potatoes 
Wine: Jordan Winery Russian River Valley chardonnay
Price: $30 (for the 2013 vintage; other vintages available)
Why it pairs: This complex, crisp, and fruit-forward chardonnay works well with mashed potatoes of all flavors and colors. But if you want to be a potato-pairing hero, zest in some Meyer lemon and add chopped hazelnuts and/or extra virgin hazelnut oil to highlight the fruit flavors and accent the oak in the wine. This pairing stole the show at our early Thanksgiving.

Dish: turkey 
Wine: Aonair grenache
Price: $58
Why it pairs: The bright acidity and red fruit of this easy-drinking wine make it a natural complement to turkey. Juicy and well spiced, the grenache will highlight the flavors of a perfectly cooked bird—or save the day if your turkey is overcooked or dry. 

Dish: fried turkey
Wine: Domaine Carneros “Le Reve” blanc de blancs sparkling wine
Price: $105
Why it pairs: The intensity of the fruit in this wine balances the light gaminess of turkey. This crisp and refreshing wine also plays nicely with the potent flavors of a fried and salted turkey. 

Dish: honey-baked ham
Wine: Francis Ford Coppola Winery Diamond Collection pinot noir
Price: $14.99–$17.99
Why it pairs: The spice and citrus notes in this pinot accentuate the sweet and savory flavors of the ham and honey glaze. The fullness of the wine also complements the texture of the meat. 

Dish: Dungeness crab
Wine: Domaine Christian Bellang Bourgogne Blanc Sous La Velle
Price: $34
Why it pairs: For those who just can’t imagine a crabless holiday and want to go in for the frozen stuff, Sous La Velle suits the sweetness of the meat with Meyer lemon and spice notes. The wine’s rich, elegant flavors and mouthfeel will work wonders with the crab texture and buttery sauces. 

Dish: candied yams
Wine: Ferrari-Carano El Dorado Gold sémillon
Price: $30 (for a 375-millileter bottle)
Why it pairs: The flavors of dried apricot, honey, and maple in the sémillon match the sweetness in the dish. And the textures of the wine and yams are both smooth, adding a silky feel to this flavorful experience. 

Dish: stuffing
Wine: Sequoia Grove chardonnay
Price: $28
Why it pairs: This acid-driven chardonnay is crisp and clean, which means it is able to stand up to rich, heavy, and flavorful foods. So whether you go with a bread vegetable stuffing or a bolder, meaty stuffing, this is a bottle you’ll be reaching for.  

Dish: cranberry stuffing
Wine: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards blanc de noirs, NV
Price: $22
Why it pairs: A wine made predominantly from pinot noir grapes, this sparkling treat features flavors of vibrant red fruits like cherries, which bring out the bright flavors of the cranberry. And the crisp mouthfeel and bubbles cut the heaviness of the dish. 

Dish: cranberry sauce
Wine: Bonny Doon Vineyard sparkling syrah
Price: $36
Why it pairs: The light body and fresh acidity of the wine marry with the berries and play well with the balance of tart and sweet found in cranberry sauce. The color of the wine also matches the dish quite nicely, so it looks great on the table. 

Dish: pumpkin soup
Wine: Black Stallion Estate Winery Napa Valley chardonnay
Price: $22
Why it pairs: This rich, velvety wine matches the texture of the soup. And the apple, pear, and creamy vanilla flavors complement pumpkin spice and cream. 

Dish: pumpkin pie 
Wine: Duckhorn cabernet franc
Price: $72
Why it pairs: With aromas of blackberry and tobacco leaf, and robust flavors of cinnamon and sage, this wine highlights pumpkin pie and the seasonal spices that go in pumpkin desserts. There is also a gentle mouthfeel to this hearty wine that plays nicely with the texture of pie and crust. 

Dish: apple crisp
Wine: Terra d’Oro chenin blanc viognier
Price: $16
Why it pairs: The slightly mineralistic quality and aromas of juicy tropical fruits in the wine highlight and balance the tartness of the apple. The citrus finish complements the earthiness of the crust and accentuates sweetness, which means you can go light on the sugar. 

Dish: leftovers
Wine: Tyler Winery pinot noir
Price: $40
Why it pairs: This old vine Santa Barbara wine has flavors of vibrant and juicy red fruit like raspberry, which combine to reinvigorate your leftover turkey, match the sweetness of the cranberry, and pull all of the spices and flavors of the holidays back together. 


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