As winter blankets the world in a serene layer of snow (hopefully over the Christmas season), there’s a magical transformation in the air that beckons warmth, joy, and celebration! Not sure about you, but I love winter and all of its beauty. In this season of festive gatherings and holiday cheer, I am bringing you not just expertise but an enchanting narrative that elevates the winter experience. Picture a crackling fireplace, a glass of robust red wine, and the culinary wisdom of a seasoned aficionado guiding you through the nuances of pairings and flavors. The intricate dance between winter’s chill and the rich tapestry of wines and gastronomy becomes a delightful symphony for the senses, creating a perfect backdrop for indulging in the finer things in life. So, as the snowflakes gently descend outside, immerse yourself in the delightful prose of a wine and food expert – a literary journey that adds a touch of sophistication and warmth to your holiday season.

Cabernets & Chocolates

Beaulieu Vineyards: The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is ideal for this winter season because it opens with a dark red berry fruit nose, supported by bright cherry and tea leaf herbaceous notes. The tannins within this wine are smooth and round, offering a plush texture and mouthfeel, with a definitive balance and structure. This wine is ideal for pairing with hearty, flavorful, diverse meals, including but not limited to: Slow cooker chili, beef stew, eggplant parmesan, mushroom risotto or steak with balsamic glaze. Make it even better with the 2019 BV Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This Winemakers Selection is outstanding

Want to make it the perfect gift? Add some Vine to Bar Chocolates for a perfect pairing!

Luxury Meets Mediterranean Inspiration

2018 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino– Total luxury! This is a more traditional expression of Brunello di Montalcino and a wine that won an incredible Wine of the Year award in 2023! This wine features rose, strawberry, and cherry, with underlying notes of herbs. The racy acidity is attractive and honestly this wine will age so well from 2025 onward. The finish is long and luxurious and you truly can taste the quality in this wine. I myself may not wait that long, but if I had two bottles, I would absolutely wait until 2025!

2021 San Felice Bell’aja Bolgheri DOC- A beautiful deep purple and wild berry forward wine! I was excited to sample this as I don’t get to explore much from this DOC area and was attracted to the smoothness with notes of spice in this gorgeous wine. This is an ideal holiday wine with Duck or a Christmas Lamb and can also be given as a gift to those who love big wild berry bouquet driven wines (I know I do).

2017 Monte Del Frà Amarone della Valpolicella If you can find this wine locally or online, get more than one bottle!! I had the pleasure of visiting this winery and tasting their powerful lineup and boy was this wine impressive! This amarone is dark and luxurious with a perfect balance of spice and cooked fruit with both sweet and savory spices. Fine tannins and structure are so attractive and perfectly balanced with the acidity in the wine. An Amarone makes a wonderful gift for the holidays and also is ideal for a big wine to compliment the Christmas meal!

Want to make it the perfect gift? Add some Flora Taralli and some Pomegranate Syrup from Wildfare!

Eclectic Mix of Deliciousness

Harveys Medium Dry Solera Sherry + Mozzamini Wasabi Pearls This is a wild and out there gift, but if you’re like me and you love interesting wines and crazy delicious cheeses than you’ll totally appreciate this (or whoever your gifting to will). So by now you may know as a Sommelier I am also a CSWS Sherry Specialist and I love sherry and cheese pairings. The Harveys Medium Dry Solera Sherry has beautiful notes of wood and nuts with a beautiful smooth finish. The bite in the Wasabi Pearls is complimented by the small percentage of PX Sherry in the sherry blend. It’s a unique pairing, and one that should be accompanied by a really eclectic cheese board with a mix and array of flavors to play off of!

2020 Anakena Nuna Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon + Wildfare Extra Virgin Olive Oil– Who doesn’t love a good bottle of olive oil and a bottle of wine? A Chilean cabernet is a wonderful wine to bring out for the holidays as it’s ripe red fruit aromas combined with the spices and dried fruit notes really compliment any festive meal. It’s a great wine to drink now and very approachable under $15 a bottle so it’s great for entertaining or to bring to a celebration.

2015 DS Champagne Blanc de Blancs + Season Caviart Black Seaweed Pearls Champagne and Caviar… a classic pairing! This one is a bit interesting however because DS Champagne is not just your everyday champagne, it’s way more special. This wine is 100% Chardonnay and aged 5 years on the lees, this extra time spent on the lees adds elegance, less brioche, more fruit and really an overall finesse that you will not find in any other Champagne. Less than 3% in the world are made in this style, being vintage and blanc de blancs. A vintage champagne is very special and when paired with Caviart pearls, it’s a winning pairing and ideal for the host/hostess who loves to entertain and enjoy the finer things in life!


Spanish Wines & Pairings

Los Dos Brut Cava- Two dancers coming together to grace us with this gorgeous sparkling wine from Spain! This wine is ideal for a dancer and celebratory for the season. Los Dos is Spanish for “both” or “the two. The rhythm of the dance changes when the winemaker steps in and carefully hand harvests the grapes before aging them on the lees for 10 months. This results in a classic Cava that showcases good acidity with some floral sweetness. A classic blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada make this wine which is fresh and fun with aromas of green apple and pear. On the back there’s some baked tones and a touch of nuttiness. Overall it’s a fantastic wine that should be shared with friends.

2019 Viña Alberdi Reserva Rioja A winery that has been featured a few times over the past few years on this blog because it’s so good! This Rioja is cherry red and beautiful in the glass. Its nose is intense, with bold ripe fruit and strawberry jam following through in the background with complimented notes of cocoa, vanilla, caramel. There’s a touch of smoke, probably from the oak. This wine has really nice acidity and soft, round tannins that provide a great mouthfeel to complement any holiday meal including Prime Rib, Filet, and Beef Wellington (to name a few). This is an enticing wine that deserves your attention this holiday season and beyond!

2020 Aster Estate Bottled, Ribera del Duero- One of my favorite Spain wine growing regions is Ribera del Duero I am obsessed with the deep dark wines from here with their big body, long finish, and power. This wine is smooth with hints of blackberries, black currants, herbs, spices, and classic mineral notes from the terroir. It’s a juicy wine with some interesting crushed stone and will easily soften over time so this wine is great for a collector or wine lover who can sit on a bottle another year or two. Don’t let that deter you however, you can drink it now for the holidays too, just keep it open for a bit and watch it unfold on your palate into a soft, seductive, Spanish wine!

Want to make it a perfect gift? Add some Monte Nevado Jamón, Runamok Saffron Infused Honey, and Wildfare Eggplant Bruschetta!

Top California Everyday and Luxury Picks

J Vineyards Cuvée 20 & Brut Rosé Two bottles are always better than one (in most cases)! I recently had the pleasure of tasting J Vineyards again and boy do I love these bubbles. The Cuvée 20 is striking with aromas of toasted almond, some apple, dried cranberry and hints of ginger! Totally not expected from this wine and it’s delightful! The palate is soft and creamy and it’s so perfect for the holidays. These wines are from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, a famed area of California. The rosé is layered with rose petal and almond notes followed by elegant mandarin orange and some cooked strawberry. On the palate it is lively and crisp and ideal for a baked holiday cheese such as camembert!

2021 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay An ideal Chardonnay for those who love creaminess, layers of complexity, and true California freshness! This private reserve chardonnay is citrus driven, tropical, and has hints of grilled fruit with underlying peach and minerality. It is sold out online on their website however you can get this some places depending on your state, I promise!

Crosby Roamann Bon Ton–  This beauty from “Napa Valley gets its name and label artwork from the French fashion magazine Gazette du Bon Ton!  The highlights of the magazine were the ten to twelve fashion plates published in each issue. Each vintage, our label represents a different one of these original fashion plates. “Bon Ton” literally translates as “good tone,” but more broadly can also mean stylishness, good manners, or refer to fashionable society.” – This wine is affordable luxury with it being a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,  Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel and should be enjoyed anytime; it’s so drinkable and delicious everyone will love this red blend!

2019 Crosby Romann Old Saint George, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir A super cool Biodynamically farmed Pinot!! Sourced from the  Filigreen Farm, the “Old Saint George” is selected from old-clone Pinot Noir grafted onto 65-year-old Saint George rootstock. This section of the vineyard aka block ripens slower than the rest of the vineyard, and produces wines of greater flavor and higher acidity. Only 3 barrels are produced of this wine and wow is it exceptional! On the palate the wine still quite young so texturally you may get some chalk, at with notes of toasted oak, smoke, and clove. This wine has a typical finish you would expect from this forest floor driven, earthy area. Overall, it’s an awesome wine for Pinot Noir lovers!

2018 Cameron Hughes Lot 947 Pinot Noir- This pinot is a steal at around $20 per bottle when it should be way over that! If you’re looking for a great pinot to have out for your guests but don’t want to break the bank or sacrifice quality, then this pinot is for you. Full of raspberry and blackberry, some black tea and racy acidity this wine is great with all your big, heavier, holiday foods. This is an ideal wine to drink now and will win the hearts of your holiday guests whether you choose to hang in the kitchen or by the fire pit. I know for this Christmas season you’ll see this wine by my fire pit after a big, big meal!

2021 Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir & Chardonnay-  Two wines make a great gift for any wine lover! I had the pleasure of visiting Rodney Strong over eight years ago and I still will never forget the trip. The winery is gorgeous and the wines are always wines I love and will respect forever due to their quality and easiness to drink. These wines are from the Reserve Collection where I tasted the 2021 vintages and the chardonnay was full of green apple and pear with a lovely rich mouthfeel and fresh underlying acidity. These wines are a blend of carefully selected lots from the very best Sonoma vineyards. The Pinot Noir is ripe and complex with creamy oak, dark floral tones, and smoothness that’s so seductive. This is great now with holiday dishes like risotto and duck, but you can also age this wine a few years too!

Want to make it a perfect gift? Add a Carafe by Riedel Glassware!

New World Wonders

2020 Etude Heirloom Pinot Noir- A Pinot I had to bring out and always bring out for the holidays; one of my favorites… the Heirloom Pinot Noir! A luxury pinot with beautiful fruit and structure and the perfect balance of both with some lingering spice notes. It’s silky, seductive, and alive and can absolutely age so this is a wine for a pinot collector if you have any in your life!

2022 Brigid Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir I had to feature New Zealand in the gift guide this year because I feel like I do not feature NZ enough ever on this blog. I drink the wines but always seem to save them for summer and this time I am doing it a bit differently! The Sauvignon Blanc grows slow and steady and honestly wins the “wine race” if you ask me because this is great with notes of sweet pepper, passionfruit, and herbs. The palate is full and it has that true Marlborough freshness. The Pinot Noir is bright, lifted, and floral with dark cherries and some savory lingering notes. It has great structure and awesome acidity and is ideal for an afternoon wine or appetizer wine so don’t ignore this while guests are coming in and you want to entertain them with something lively and fruity!

Want to make it a perfect gift? Give any of these wines and pairings from the heart. Happy holiday season to you and your loved ones… please pair responsibly!