Guests cheers across a table set with holiday decor

10 Tips for Serving and Pairing Wines at Your Holiday Party

by CH Wine.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to prepare for festive gatherings filled with laughter, good company, and, of course, excellent wine. Elevate your holiday party experience with these 10 tips that seamlessly blend the art of serving and pairing wines, ensuring your guests have a merry and memorable time.

Wine Serving Tips

  1. Welcome with Bubbles
    Start your celebration on a sparkling note by offering guests a glass of bubbly as they arrive. Whether it’s a classic Champagne, a lively Prosecco, or a California sparkling wine, the effervescence sets a festive tone and instantly lifts spirits.
  2. Open Bar Ease
    Ensure your guests have the freedom to explore various wine options by setting up an open bar. This allows them to grab a glass and mingle at their own pace, creating a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. Keep whites and sparkling on ice, and reds positioned on top of ice in the bucket so they have a slight chill to them. Don’t forget the wine charms! Otherwise, you’ll be washing glasses all night long!
  3. Hydration Station
    While wine is undoubtedly the star, don’t forget the importance of hydration. Create a water station with still and sparkling water options, accompanied by various garnishes like citrus slices and berries. Encourage guests to stay well-hydrated throughout the night.
  4. Perfectly Chilled Reds
    Red wines are best served much cooler than room temperature. Aim to bring them out at cellar temperature (around 56 degrees Fahrenheit). This slight chill enhances the flavors of red wines, making them more refreshing and approachable. It’s also how winemakers taste their wines—always in the cellar and always with a slight chill.
  5. White Wine Warm-Up
    On the flip side, ensure white wines aren’t served too cold. Take them out of the refrigerator approximately 15 minutes before serving to allow their fantastic nuances to shine. This small adjustment ensures your guests can fully appreciate the complexity of your chosen whites.

Food and Wine Pairing Suggestions

  1. Turkey’s Perfect Duo
    Pairing wine with the centerpiece of many holiday tables, the turkey, is a crucial decision. Opt for the classic and crowd-pleasing Pinot Noir or Zinfandel for red wine lovers, because the bright and firm acids of these wines cut through the fat of all that gravy we expect you to douse your turkey in. Also, they liven up with a bite of turkey and cranberry sauce. They grow earthy with a fork-full of green bean casserole. And for white wine lovers, go with a full-bodied, well-balanced Chardonnay or bright and zest Sauvignon Blanc — or bring the sparkling wine to the dinner table!
  2. Decadent Duck Delight
    For those indulging in roast duck, enhance the experience with a rich and robust wine like a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold flavors of these reds complement the succulence of the duck, creating a symphony of taste. If your duck has a Peking-edge to it, Riesling is your best bet. You could also try a Rhône-style white that is made of either Grenache Blanc or Roussanne, as the fleshy, oily quality of the wine will marry nicely with the duck as well.
  3. Italian Feast Harmony
    If your holiday menu leans toward Italian cuisine, celebrate the diversity with diverse wine choices. A Chianti Classico or Super Tuscan or Langhe Nebbiolo red pairs beautifully with tomato-based dishes, while a crisp Pinot Grigio or mineral-driven Gavi enhances the flavors of lighter fare. Embrace the regional diversity of Italian wines to elevate your dining experience.
  4. Rule-Free Wine Pleasure
    Remind your guests (and yourself!) that when it comes to pairing, truly, there are no strict rules. If you set the stage that you’ve opened up a diverse range of wines for people to try and you encourage your guests to explore, it will mark a lasting memory and cement your status as the host with most. A bold red with seafood? Go for it! Add a squeeze of lemon and be amazed! A refreshing white with hearty red meats? Whatever you like. The key is to savor what brings individual joy.
  5. Taste the Adventure
    Ultimately, the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration. Encourage your guests to embrace the spirit of adventure by trying new wine and food pairings. And you—savvy Cameron Hughes fan—have plenty of exciting wines to share, so don’t be shy around the holidays. Be generous, flexible, and proud of your great pairing ideas (take all the credit, and tell no one that you read this article!)

But rest assured that if you incorporate these tips into your holiday party, you’ll not only be toasting to the season but also ensuring a great experience for everyone involved. They won’t forget your generosity and creativity! Cheers to your holiday celebration!