Taking the Drama Out of Picking a Holiday Wine One Glass at a Time

The holidays’ social season is in full swing and there is much more entertaining to do. To help us Dolls solve one of the more challenging entertaining questions – “What types of wine shall I serve?” – is guest blogger, wine writer and educator, Shari Sheffield. Shari takes the mystery out of wine selection “one glass at a time.”

Taking the Drama Out of Picking A Holiday Wine One Glass at a Time

The holidays can be D. R. A. M. A.; and trying to choose “the perfect wine” to go with your holiday feast can add to that drama. Trying to find a single wine to please everyone from your grandmother to the newly minted drinking-age college boyfriend your daughter has brought home is a challenge. With all the preparations required, quite frankly, don’t you already have enough worry planning your menu? Stuff the turkey before cooking or after? Cranberry sauce with whole berries or none? Sweet potato soufflé or candied yams casserole? Christmas goose or rack of lamb? And let’s not even get into the seating arrangements that must be considered ensuring that a family kerfuffle doesn’t erupt – again.

One tip I give to quickly calm down those responsible for securing the wine for the festivities – pick one white, one red and one sparkling wine. It’s so simple it often gets overlooked. You will invariably have guests at your table who will make a face and whine dramatically: “I only like white” or “I only like red.” Serving at least one type of each will put a cure, at least, to that issue.

But, of course, you can go all out and turn the holidays into an opportunity to try multiple wines in one setting. This can be fun and wine will rarely be wasted. It is also a chance to explore bottles you might not normally try and discuss.

Another way to totally obviate the pressure of choosing the right wine is to ask each guest to bring a different type of grape varietal (one brings a Chardonnay, one a Merlot and so forth). You can also assign each guest to bring a bottle from a different region. This will result in your own informal private wine dinner right at the holiday dinner table.

However, if you choose to select the wines yourself, here are a few recommendations for food friendly wines that will pair well with multiple dishes and please the cast of characters that my cross your doorstep into the new year.

The Bubbles.

For domestic sparkling wines with great quality and style serve Schramsberg Brut California Sparkling Wine around $15.00 and Gloria Ferrer Brut or Blanc de Blanc California Sparkling Wine approximately $15.  For real French bubbly forgo the obvious orange label Veuve Cliquot and try Pierrer-Jouet for a lighter more refreshing champagne.


The Whites.

Riesling is a versatile white grape varietal. Wines from it can be sweet, off dry and dry. Look for off dry rieslings from Washington state and Germany for pairing with entrees and hors d’oeuvres.  A less dry Riesling will go well with salty, sweet, and spicy foods. Rieslings classic apple/citrus flavors and balanced acidity won’t overpower many dishes. Choose a sweet riesling for dessert alone, as an after dinner drink or pair with apple pie and fruit based desserts. Try Bonny Doon’s California Riesling or Rosemount Estate Diamond Traminer (Australia), approximately $10.

For a White Blend try Perrin Cote Du Rhone Blanc, 2011 under $17. The Vioginer and Grenache Blanc take the leading role as the predominate grapes in this blend. Marsanne and Roussanne play supporting roles which makes this wine’s lemon flavors and floral notes heavenly at this price point. This can be sipped alone or paired with seafood, foul and cream based dishes.


The Reds.

Pinot Noir. DeLoach Russian River Pinot Noir $21, has cherry and plum flavors that pair well with herbed stuffing, smoked salmon, dark meat poultry without overpowering the rest of your dishes.

Syrah. Kunde Syrah costs approximately $16. Syrah can be light or tannic with a lot of structure. This lighter style Syrah, aka Shiraz, has peppery notes and a spicy edge along with lightness.

Merlot. Markham Merlot from California is very smooth and food friendly. Perfect, if a crown roast or lamb will be served at your holiday meal. It has structure and complexity. It is also velvety with chocolate notes.


Cheers and Happy Holidays!

-Shari Sheffield, Wine Writer and Educator | Twitter: @ShariSheffield

There you have it Dolls. Your holiday wine selections have been made for you. Leave us a message if you try any of these suggestions. Now, to those seating arrangements. Oh and by the way, look for most guest blog posts from Shari in the New Year.

Until Then,

Keep Sharing the Pretty


Photographs | Shutterstock, Craft & Cork, & Mainstreet




You Are Cordially Invited to Champagne Sundays …

Champagne Sundays is starting a little late this evening (super late); but a Doll had a busy day. Today’s Champagne Sunday suggestion is less than complicated. I usually share a champagne cocktail recipe, but last night the Mr. & I tried a bottle of Gruet Brut Rose while watching the movie Olympus is Falling. I have to say, I recommend both ~ the movie and the sparkling wine!

Brut Rose is considered a non-vintage sparkling wine, reasonably priced and can be purchased at any local wine and spirits store. I also recommend the Gruet Brut, which is considered the Gruet Winery’s “flagship sparkling wine.” It’s another favorite.


While I was thinking about Champagne Sunday’s, it dawned on me that a lot of the Pretty Domestic Dolls, in addition to enjoying a glass of bubbly, are also serious wine enthusiasts. I was reminded that several years ago, I hosted a meeting for a women’s organization to which I belong, and my hostess gift was a customized wine pairing magnet, of all things. Sounds corny, but who could have guessed that a magnet would be such a smash! That said, to accompany my Champagne Sunday’s suggestion, how about a little Wine Pairing 101.



~ Creamy Soft Brie or Camembert ~

Red Burgundy, Chardonnay, Chablis

 ~ Strong Goat Cheese ~

Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume

~ Semi-Hard Cheese ~

Semillon, Rioja, Sauvignon Blanc

~ Smoked Cheese ~

Gewurztraminer, Sauternes, Shiraz

~ Strong Blue Cheese ~

Sauternes, Port, Hermitage, Madeira


~ Chicken ~

Chardonnay, Rioja, Barbera, Grenache, Burgundy

~ Steak ~

Full-bodied Red such as Cabernet, Bordeaux

~ Grilled Fish ~

Light, medium-bodied whites such as Pinot Grigio, Chablis

~ Pasta (red sauce/white sauce) ~

Chianti, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc/Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay

~ Raw or Steamed Shellfish ~

Crisp, acidic wines such as Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc


Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, White Zinfandel, Spumante

So call your Dolls, or a date, whip up your favorite gourmet meal and pair with the perfect wine or champagne. Chin Chin!

By the by, I still have a couple of magnets left if anyone is interested. They are tres cute!

Until Then,

~ L.

The Pretty Domestic

Image: Champagne Journal