Uncork the Holidays

Contributed By Matt Corson,
Wine manager at Total Wine & More in Cary

With the holidays approaching, calendars quickly fill up with family gatherings and parties with friends and colleagues. Selecting wine for holiday entertaining or as a special gift can pose a challenge. Whether the goal is to find a wine to pair with a festive meal or a special present to celebrate the season, here are a few suggestions to ensure your wine delivers plenty of cheer this season. 


The most famous sparkling wines are those produced in the Champagne province in France. Only contributing to about 8 percent of all sparkling wines produced, these wines possess a rich history and range in price from $25 and up. 

An excellent choice from this region is the De Margerie (Bouzy) Grand Cru, which delivers a nose of red fruit with pin-point bubbles ending in a long, refreshing finish. There are, however, enjoyable examples produced in every wine growing region. Some of the most popular include Cava from Spain and prosecco from Italy. Cava is the official name given to sparkling wine produced in the northern growing regions of Spain. Codorníu produces the Rondel Cava Brut, a dry sparkling wine with light apple and floral tones that delivers every time. 

Prosecco is a white wine grape that is grown in northern Italy. These wines are crisp and appley, and more often than not, lean on the drier side. Try the Botter Prosecco Spumante, which has an off-dry character with notes of citrus and green apples. Both styles provide a tremendous value and make for wonderful party wines. 

White Wine

If you are looking for a wine to bring home for Thanksgiving or to pair with a traditional holiday menu, there are many versatile white wines to consider. 

One varietal that pairs extremely well with turkey, ham and all the trimmings is Chenin Blanc. These wines are noted for their underlying sweetness with a slightly dry finish. The Bougrier “V” Vouvray has accents of honey, pear and hazelnut and is extremely food-friendly. Gewurztraminer is another appealing white varietal produced in the French region of Alsace and California. This grape is known for its exotic and spicy fruit flavors. The Albrecht family, producing wine since 1425, makes a well-balanced gewurztraminer with melon and lychee nut flavors that is not overly sweet. These whites are quintessential holiday food wines.

Red Wine

When selecting a bottle for the red wine lover on your list, try choosing one with universal appeal. Two grapes to consider are Syrah and Malbec. Both wines offer lots of flavor with mild spiciness and are sure to please any palate. The Syrah grape (Shiraz in Australia) is grown extensively in Australia, California and Washington state. Shotfire Ridge by Thorn-Clarke is made in the Barossa Valley growing region of Australia and possesses loads of dark berry fruit and a polished finish and actually works well with dark chocolate desserts. Argentina’s most widely planted varietal is Malbec, which has been growing rapidly in popularity for more than a decade. If you are unfamiliar with this grape, think not quite as fruity as a merlot and not as dry as a cabernet sauvignon. 

A perennial favorite is produced by the Catena family whose wines receive high praise year after year. Their Malbec demonstrates everything this grape has to offer including dark, intense fruit and a firm structure on the finish. More importantly, this wine is versatile. It may be enjoyed by itself or paired with a peppery porterhouse steak. These two grapes make for ecellent gifting wines when personal tastes are unknown.


Often overlooked, dessert wines are always an amazing addition to any dinner or gathering. Whether pairing with cheeses, fresh fruit or a decadent torte, there are wines that will add to the enjoyment. German eisweins, French sauternes, Italian Moscato D’Astis, and Portuguese ports all make excellent choices to end an evening. They all have their own characteristics that make them unique and offer plenty of reasons to enjoy with dessert or simply as dessert.

Keeping these tips in mind will guide you to the perfect wines for the season. Hope your holidays sparkle with something exciting and new in your glass!


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