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Holiday Survival Guide: How to Pick the Perfect Wine for Any Occasion

Lots of people have questions when it comes to wine-pairing protocol. After all, they may be casual drinkers who enjoy a nice glass of vino every night, but that doesn’t mean they’ve studied which flavor profiles pair best with certain foods (or occasions) for that matter.

With the holidays upon us, we decided to team up with Boston-based wine company Ninety Plus Cellars to do a round-up of seasonal scenarios where our Boston readers—and potential holiday hosts and/or dinner party guests—will need to know how to pick the perfect wine.

Here’s your survival guide to getting through any occasion where wine—whether for better or for worse—will be a necessity:

Dry Turkey
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Magic Door Sancerre Rosé

Just because Thanksgiving is behind us doesn’t mean that Aunt Sally’s overcooked turkey won’t be coming back for act two. Our go to in this scenario is a nice bright rosé, like this Magic Door rosé from the French region of Sancerre. The freshness and lively fruit contained in this delicious bottle isn’t just a crowd pleaser—it’s the best way to counteract the dryness of overcooked poultry while complimenting all the accoutrements on the table.

Awkward Family Gatherings
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

The holidays are a joyous time of year. A time to celebrate with friends and family. And so what if some of those family gatherings get a little awkward. We’ve got wine!

If you want to break through those awkward family moments we recommend bringing a bottle of this Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Russian River Pinot is the great unifier of the wine world. It’s a mellow, even-tempered California red that brings all of the holiday’s flavors, and personalities, together.

Pair with: 90+ Cellars 66 Riesling

The salty, sweet nature of your holiday ham begs for something cool, fruity, and slightly sweet itself; and Riesling is it. It’s light-bodied and intensely flavored with just enough tart to match the honey glaze of your main course. Don’t be afraid of Riesling’s sweetness, though. It will not seem as tangy when paired with ham. Plus, its characteristic freshness and stone fruit aromas make drinking it like biting into a refreshingly juicy nectarine.

Game Day/Tailgating
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Iron Side RED

Winter time is football time. The time to hunker down on the couch with the friends and fam and kick back to your favorite back-to-back NFL or college games. Perhaps many will opt for beer in this scenario, but we recommend mixing it up with a big, powerful California red wine that you can sip all game long. Iron Side Red is just the ticket; full-bodied and larger than life, it’s full of grit, finesse and game day machismo. Good enough for a fine restaurant but more comfortable at a tailgate… just like you!

Online Shopping
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Prosecco

Pop while you shop. That’s our motto this year. Fancy boutiques sometimes hand out glasses of bubbly while you peruse their store, so why not bring the luxury shopping experience home to your laptop as you pop open a bottle of Prosecco and pour yourself a glass of sparkle? If you have any left over (which we doubt you will), serve it up in some Prosecco cocktails later.

Pair with: 90+ Cellars Shiraz McLaren Valley Australia

A rich, heavy, savory brisket is best matched with a wine with equal flavor intensity, but that’s also refreshing so you’re ready for the next bite. Shiraz/Syrah is a great pick, especially one where full-bodied texture is accompanied by bright fruit flavors. Our go-to is this Shiraz from the cool ocean-influencers region of McLaren Vale in Southeastern Australia.

In-Laws Dinner
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Speaking of awkward family gatherings, getting along with your in-laws certainly makes for a happier holiday. Pour a classic red that tastes luxurious, but is priced so you can buy two bottles (you may need to open the second one after all!). Cabernet Sauvignon from a distinguished appellation in Napa, like Rutherford, will impress the in-laws with your taste, and when they find out this one only cost you about $20, you’ll win extra points for being smart.

New Year’s
Pair with: 90+ Cellars Magic Door Champagne

If you haven’t tasted real Champagne all year long, then treat yourself during the holidays! Many sparkling wines claim to be Champagne, but only sparkling wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grown in France’s Champagne region have the right to put the name “Champagne” on the label. Ever since Phillip II, Duke of Orleans popularized the sparkling wine by serving it at the royal palace, Champagne became the first wine craze inspired by celebrity consumption. So pop the cork and drink from this regal bottle like a royal.

Cheers to being one step closer to surviving the season! For more wine pairing tips visit Ninety Plus Cellars and pick up the perfect bottle to get through the holidays, no matter your plans.