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Meal Planning

Holiday Entertaining: 4 Wine Questions


Wine plays a big role for the holiday season, whether it's on the table or in the gift bag.  Our expert wine blogger, at SpinTheBottleNY, answers our readers questions about wine and food. Enjoy.

November and December showcase a wide range of holiday foods, from roast duck to ham, and even vegetarian feasts. How do you find the best wine pairing for a holiday meal?

The truth is, it's impossible to find a single wine that will go with everything at a holiday feast. But here are a few guidelines that can help. First, you're never wrong to start off with something bubbly -- Prosecco, Cava, sparkling wine or, of course, champagne. For the main course, you want something medium-bodied, food friendly, and not absurdly high in alcohol. Rioja can be a nice choice, and you can usually find nice values here.

In Asian cuisine, there are a lot of entrees that are broth-based (like pho).  Can you pair wine with soup?

I'm a firm believer that you can pair wine with anything! But it's true, pairing wines with soup isn't easy. The classic choice is probably sherry. (The dry kind, not the sweet cream sherry stuff.) A fino sherry goes nicely with a lighter fish or vegetable soup. For something heartier, try an amontillado. Remember: sherry does have more alcohol, so keep servings a bit smaller.

I'm hosting our family holiday dinner.  How do I know how much wine to serve for a 10-person dinner?  We are likely having 4 courses.

In general, I think 2 people per bottle is a good estimate. However, it depends on the guests (your grandmother and your college age cousin likely will have different tolerances for alcohol!), and how long you plan to spend at the table. When in doubt, buy one more bottle.

How much money should I spend on a bottle of wine that I'm bringing to a dinner party?

The annoying--but true--answer is, it depends. Good wines come in all price ranges. In general, you can find more interesting wines north of the $15-$20 mark. If you're on a budget, focus on finding something original or personal. For example, if you know the hosts honeymooned in Tuscany, bring them a bottle of reasonably priced Chianti -- and explain that you wanted to remind them of the great time they had there. Even if the wine doesn't blow them away, they'll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Want more wine pairings?

Have more wine questions? Post your wine question in the comments section below and it may be answered in an upcoming wine q&a. 

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