The Ultimate Winemaker Approved Holiday Wine Pairing & Recipe RoundupIf you are up to your ears in eggnog and aren’t feeling the fruitcake then a Christmas miracle is coming your way. Even if you aren’t stuck in a holiday rut, ‘Tis the Season of switching things up! We’ve got the Ultimate Winemaker Approved Holiday Wine Pairings & Recipe Roundup.

Travel with us to Portugal for a Port and almond ice cream pairing straight from one of the region’s most popular producers. Then it’s off to Alsace for a taste of Baeckeoffe (baek-wahhh???) and everywhere and everything in between. We reached out to our friends in the wine community around the world to come up with this extensive list that will leave you feeling a little naughty and nice. So, spend the rest of 2015 stepping out of your comfort-zone and digging into these delicious dishes and WINES!

Wine: FMC Chenin Blanc ($65)

Pairing: South African winemaker Ken Forrester gives us his favorite holiday food and pairing. Ken Forrester Vineyards FMC Chenin Blanc ($65) paired with Gammon, ham.

You (like me) might be thinking WTH is Gammon ham? A quick Google search reveals the answer: 🙂 Gammon is the name given to the meat from the hind legs of a pig that has been cured in the same way as bacon. The main difference between gammon and ham is that gammon will be sold raw and needs to be cooked; ham is sold cooked or dry-cured and ready for eating.

Wine: 2013 Tenuta Rapitala Campo Reale Nero D’Avola ($8.99)

Pairing: Smoked Meats and Cheese Platter: Our friends over at Wines of Sicily serve up some diverse and scrumptious suggestions to pair with Nero d’Avola. An indigenous grape hailing from the original melting pot of flavors on the island of Sicily, and one of the most diverse wine regions on the planet.

Pairing: Christmas Rib Roast or Rack of Venison: A beautiful single-variety Nero d’Avola will be your special-occasion surprise with roasted meats – pairing perfectly with its ripe cherry, sweet spices and background of silky tannins.

Wine: Galerie Equitem Knights Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($30)

Pairing: Oven baked bass with pancetta and asparagus cream

Galerie Winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz on why they pair well: This wine has juicy aromas of melon and lemon zest paired and a refined natural acidity which are complemented by a mineral character. These components make it the perfect pairing for this delicious holiday dish.

Wine: Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)

Pairing: Roasted lamb in an almond and raisins sauce

Galerie Winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz on why they pair well: This wine has layers of beautiful red fruit with nuances of white pepper, tobacco leaves and licorice and a velvety mouth feel with a tannin filled long finish.

Wine: Château Landat Cru Bourgeois 2012 ($22)

Pairing: Frédérique de Lamothe, the Director of Crus Bourgeois dishes out a traditional holiday pairing from the Wines from Bordeaux. Roast Leg of Lamb with Potatoes and Onions (Gigot d’agneau aux pommes de terre et oignons) with the Château Landat Cru Bourgeois 2012.

“Hailing from the Left Bank of Bordeaux, Crus Bourgeois wines are traditional Bordeaux blends that are well-recognized for their elegance, versatility and incredible price-quality value. At only $22.00, the Château Landat is a beautiful example of what the Crus Bourgeois category has to offer.

It is supple and balanced, with notes of black currant, cherry and earth. The concentrated fruit flavors and earthiness of the wine play nicely off of the rich, hearty flavors of the lamb, while its structured tannins help cut through the fattiness of the meat. This classic Bordeaux pairing is absolutely perfect for the holiday season! Santé!” — Frédérique de Lamothe, Director of the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc

Wine: Domaine du Tariquet Les Premières Grives ($17.99)

Pairing: This flavorful, full-bodied white wine made from large, sugar-gorged Gros Manseng grapes harvested in the rolling hills of Gascony. Les Premières Grives pairs perfectly with a salad with Roquefort or another crumbled blue cheese to start the meal. The Primieres Grives also makes an excellent accompaniment to white meat, so of course it would be a great fit for the golden brown turkey.

“The Primieres Grives is ideal as an aperitif, so when pairing this wine during the American holiday season, look towards rich and potentially sweet appetizer and side dishes that will play off its natural sweetness. A baked brie is a great choice that is sure to go fast among hungry friends and family.

Brush the top of the cheese with honey or a fruit compote and wrap in either foil or pastry dough before baking in the oven. Once it’s ready, you’ll have a succulent holiday food and wine pairing that that is sure to get the meal off on the right foot by embodying the sweetness of the season.”  — Armin Grassa, Winemaker, Tariquet

Wine: Domaine Zinck Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé ($24)

Pairing: Here are two great traditional holiday recipes to go along with wines from Alsace. The Cuisine from this region is famous for being hearty and innovative; it also happens to be home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in France! The first traditional dish that is popular around the holidays is Baeckeoffe. The recipe was created by Alsace-born chef Hubert Keller who was born in Ribeauvillé. Keller grew trained with some of France’s most renowned chefs before bringing his culinary talents to the U.S. in the 1980’s where he began opening several restaurants including the now closed Fleur de Lys (San Francisco), Fleur by Hubert Keller (Las Vegas), and Burger Bar (San Francisco, Las Vega, and St. Louis).

The second traditional dish is flammekueche. Flammekueche — the Alsatian word for what is known in French as tarte flambée — is a thin-crusted tart topped with cheese, onions and thick cuts of bacon (or lardon) and is traditionally served as a first course or an appetizer.

Wine: Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port ($26)

Pairing: Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port wraps you up like your favorite holiday sweater and help you sing into the season. The Symingtons in Portugal offer up their favorite holiday pairing for Warre’s Otima 10 Year Tawny Port.

Charles Symington, winemaker and head blender for Otima, says that one of his favorites is the delicious almond ice cream they make in Portugal with almonds from the Douro valley. The ice cream is especially delicious with a topping of crumbled roasted almonds—it makes for a perfect pairing with Otima 10 Year.

Wine: Qupé A Modern White ($16.99)

Pairing: Cornbread Stuffing with Sweet Potato and Squash with a nutty, citrusy Rhone blend like: Qupé A Modern White (39% Viognier ,  39% Chardonnay,  22% Marsanne).

“For turkey and all of the trimmings you need wines with good acidity, that have body without being heavy. Rhone varietals like Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne, when made with a lower alcohol structure, pair extremely well with most of the drier/sweeter flavor elements of holiday sides.

The rich nutlike qualities found in our Marsanne stand up to the sweetness of cornbread and sweet potato while the peach and citrus accents that Viognier and Chardonnay bring, help clean things up on the finish. This a great wine to keep you going through a heavy meal.”  — Bob Lindquist, Winemaker, Qupé

Wine: Rutini Trumpeter Malbec ($10.99)

Pairing: Rutini’s Malbec pairs well with holiday roasts like prime rib. Full of Argentine character and fresh varietal expression, the Rutini Trumpeter Malbec is one of Argentina’s most cherished wines. The 2012 vintage is made from 100% estate-grown, hand-harvested grapes by Winemaker Mariano Di Paola, a Decanter Top-30 world winemaker. Rutini is one of Argentina’s most prestigious and beloved wines, and only recently available in the U.S.

Martin Codax Albarino 2013 ($13.99)

Pairing: Critically-acclaimed Rías Baixas Albariño is ready for a permanent place as a ‘Winter White’ wine. Cheese is traditional with the Albarino from Rias Biaxas. Ibores or Mahon are two cheeses that work well. People tend to associate Albarino with seafood and of course that is a great fit but it is more dimensional, especially with cheese boards which go so well for holiday entertaining.

Wine: 2013 Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir ($25)

Pairing: The Artesa Pinot Noir works with a variety of hors d’oeuvres like meatballs. Fine winemaking is an art and for Artesa every harvest is a canvas- even after 25 years of making wine.

Wine: Fronton, Château Bellevue’s La Foret

Holidays are the perfect time to get into the kitchen and discover some new flavors. If you are planning a dinner, try some of these wine and duck pairing from the Southwest of France. This recipe of confit de canard-stuffed vegetables comes directly from the Fronton appellation. Mike Kulick’s recipe on if you want to follow along at home.

Recipe: Vegetables stuffed with preserved duck

A recipe coming from South West France’s Fronton appellation

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes 12 stuffed vegetables


LegumesFarcis_t212 small vegetables suitable for stuffing (sweet onions, small squash, large mushroom caps or Portabellos)

2 preserved duck bottoms (legs and thighs)*

1 bouquet of aromatic herbs (parsley, chervil, chives)

1 large shallot

a few small red fruits (gooseberries, red berries,…)

salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Cut tops off vegetables to form “lids’, scoop out inside and steam if necessary (10 to 15 min. for onions and squash).

Remove fat and skin from the duck bottoms, then shred  the meat. Chop aromatic herbs and shallots and combine with shredded duck.  Add salt and pepper; mix well.  Gently add red fruits.

Sprinkle inside of vegetables with salt and pepper, then stuff with duck/herb mixture. Cover with lids and bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve hot, with a glass of red Fronton wine

Wine: Marchesi de Frescobaldi Giramonte’ Toscana IGT 2011

Recipe: Brasato Natalizio al Nipozzano

The Frescobaldi family’s traditional red wine rib roast dish.

Serves 4

1 beef rib, approximately 5 pounds  (the family recommends the Chianina breed ofcattle from Tuscany)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 small carrots, cut into ¼-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ bottle red wine (the family recommends Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva)

2 cups tomato purée

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoon flour

Season the roast beef with salt and pepper and place in a large roasting pan over medium heat. Braise the meat, turning it over to brown all sides. In another pan, fry the onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft. When soft, add the onion, celery, carrots and wine to the roast beef pan, and lower the heat. Next, add in the tomato purée and tomato paste, stirring the ingredients to make a sauce. Cover the roasting pan and slow cook for two hours. Make sure the meat and sauce do not dry out by adding a few tablespoons of water.

When the meat is very tender, after about 2½ hours, remove and set aside. Keep the sauce in the pan covered. In another saucepan, combine the flour and water, mixing well. When heated, add the flour mixture to the saucepan. Mix well to produce a thick gravy. Slice the beef and a pour gravy on top before serving.

Wine: Landmark 2013 Overlook Chardonnay ($19.99)

Recipe: Heirloom Bean Soup

By: the Restaurant at JUSTIN


1 ¼ pounds Benton’s Bacon, diced small

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 celery ribs, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 fresh bay leaf

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

1 pound dried heirloom beans, soaked overnight and drained

10 cups chicken stock/vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain and reserve the fat. Put the bacon aside.

Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, stock and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Reduce soup to a simmer over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 ½ hours.

Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Wine: Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley 2014 Chardonnay ($45)

Recipe: Harvest Pear and Caramelized Onion Crostini


Harvest Pear and Caramelized Onion Crostini1 sourdough baguette, sliced on the diagonal

Olive oil to brush on bread slices

2 T. olive oil

3 T. butter

3 medium sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced (I prefer Walla Walla Sweets when you can get them)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese (my favorite is Point Reyes Blue)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

4 Anjou or Bartlett pears washed, cut in half cored and cut into thin slices

Coarsely chopped toasted walnuts


Preheat broiler and line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place sliced sourdough on your sheet and using a pastry brush swipe a bit of olive oil on each slice. Broil bread on one side until golden. Remove from oven.

In a large frying pan add olive oil and 2 T. of the butter and cook on low heat until butter is melted. Add onions and continue to cook until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Remove onions into a bowl. Add the remaining 1 T. of butter and sauté pears for about 5 minutes or until tender. Combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar with the onions.

To serve:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place desired amount of blue cheese on crostini, then top with onions, followed by pear slices and walnuts. Return crostini to oven and bake about 4 minutes, remove and serve warm. Should make about 25 pieces.

Wine: Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs ($19.99)

Recipe: Mache and Poached Pear Salad with Verjus Vinegarette

By: Chef Mia Chambers, Draeger’s Cooking School

Serves 4


2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons verjus*

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Honey Poached Pears (recipe follows)

1 small bunch frisee, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 cups mache or mixed baby lettuce

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed and chopped

*Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes. It can be white or red and can usually be found in the oil and vinegar section of the grocery store.


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and verjus with a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil and continue whisking until all of the oil has been incorporated.

2. Place greens in a large bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season greens with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

3. Mound greens in the center of each plate; arrange pears on top and garnish with hazelnuts.

Honey Poached Pears

Serves 4


1/2 cup wildflower honey

1-1/2 cups water or wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 fresh vanilla bean, split

3 black peppercorns

2 firm ripe bosc pears, peeled, quartered and cored


1. Combine everything but the pears in a heavy–bottomed saucepan. Bring liquid to a simmer. Add the pears to the simmering liquid with a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pears, to prevent the pears from oxidizing. Poach pears until tender, approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Continue to simmer poaching liquid until reduced to syrup, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove vanilla bean and peppercorns and store pears with syrup, refrigerated, until ready to use.

Wine: Candoni Organic Merlot ($9.99)

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Candoni Organic Merlot

Makes one 6” round, 3 layered cake


For the cake

1 cup, 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp

2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp

1 ½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup applesauce

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup Candoni Organic Merlot

For the frosting

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup Candoni Organic Merlot wine


For the cake

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prep three 6” round cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom and spray with non-stick baking spray. Using your stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment, cream the butter on low speed. Add in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add in the vanilla and applesauce and continue

2. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Unplug your stand mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. By hand, using a rubber spatula, fold in a third of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and then pour in a third of the entwine Merlot. Fold ingredients together until just combined. Continue this process two more times, alternating

3. Pour the cake batter evenly into the 3 prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for at beating for another 1 to 2 minutes. folding in the flour mixture and the wine into the cake batter. least 20 minutes before removing from the cake pans.

For the frosting

1. While your cakes are cooling, you can prepare the frosting.

2. Using your stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment, cream together the butter, cocoa and vanilla at medium speed for a few minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time and pour in a little entwine Merlot, and mix together until smooth. Repeat until you have a consistency you are happy with. Feel

3. Once the cakes have cooled completely, level each cake and frost, stacking the cakes and putting a thin layer of frosting in between each layer. There should be enough frosting for a crumb coat and an outer layer of frosting. Slice, serve and enjoy. free to add a touch more wine if you need to.

Wine: 2014 Lula CellarsRosato ($20)

Recipe: Artichoke Frittata


1 16oz can of quartered artichoke hearts

4 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

6 large eggs, whisked


Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Prepare an 8×8 baking pan by spraying with a nonstick spray.

Drain artichokes and coarsely chop.

Put into a large mixing bowl.

Add green onions, parsley and cheeses.

Mix all ingredients.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add whisk eggs and stir to combine.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple green salad.

Enjoy with a chilled bottle of Lula Cellars Rosato.

Wine: Bisol ‘Crede’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG ($25)

The result is the single-vineyard Bisol ‘Crede’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG  which is produced from the Glera grape varietal, together with Pinot Bianco and Verdiso grapes grown on the steep south-facing hills of Bisol’s vineyards in Valdobbiadene. With a brilliant yellow-green color and a fruity bouquet that is reflected in its flavor of green apples and pears with balanced acidity.

Recipe: Tiramisu

Yield: 8 servings


Holiday food and wine pairings6 eggs, separate yolks from egg whites

6 tablespoons white sugar

500 g grams of mascarpone / 1.1 pounds

250 g grams of ricotta cheese / 0.55 pounds


Finger biscuits

Cocoa powder to taste


Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and ricotta. Whisk the whites then add to the mixture, stirring gently to rest.

Prepare the coffee and let it cool.

In a baking dish arrange the biscuits soaked in coffee and form a layer, then cover with the prepared cream. Form 2 or 3 layers, sprinkle with cocoa and let stand in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Wine: 2008 Donnafugata Mille e Una Notte

Rich and complex meat dish it pairs well with the structured,  complex and intense red wine Mille e una Notte


Serves 4

4 slices veal, about 4 mm (1/4-inch) thick

5 oz ground pork

5 oz ground veal or beef

1 clove garlic

1 oz grated breadcrumbs

3 eggs (1 hard-boiled, 2 raw)

1 oz mined almonds

1 oz grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese

1 sprig parsley

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch coriander

1 pinch cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste


Put the ground meat in a bowl, add the grated breadcrumbs and cheese, the 2 raw eggs whole, the minced parsley, nutmeg, cinnamon and minced almonds.

Mix together with your hands and place portions of the mixture in the centers of the veal slices you have laid out flat, and lightly salted, on the work counter.

Top with quarters of the hard-boiled egg, roll up and secure with kitchen twine. These roulades can be cooked in the tomato sauce used to season pasta, braised with bacon, mushrooms and white wine or baked with potatoes and peas. (If desired, you can also flatten them with the palm of your hand and grill them).

Wine: 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec

Recipe: Christmas Classic by José Cacciavillani

This recipe comes from the team at Susana Balbo Wines. It’s actually a three recipe dish, which is very common in Argentina’s holiday.

Russian salad

Serves 4

4 small peeled and boiled potatoes

4 tbsp of blanched peas

4 tbsp of blanched and cubed carrots

1 hardboiled egg

Salt & pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup sunflower oil

Any spicy sauce to taste (Such as Tabasco)

Step by step:

First, carve a hole in each potato and reserve in the fridge for at least 5 minutes. Make an emulsion with the sunflower oil, the egg and the lemon juice. Season to taste.

Add the peas and carrots to the emulsion and mix well. Rectify seasoning.

Fill each potato with the upgraded emulsion.

Tongue á la vinaigrette

Half a veal tongue

2 bay leaves

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

1 small red pepper

1 small green pepper

1 small yellow pepper

1 small carrot

1 small red onion

4 garlic cloves

¼ wine vinegar

¾ extra virgin olive oil

Step by step:

Boil the tongue in a lot of water with salt, pepper, bay leaves and 2 cloves for, at least, 45 minutes or until soft.

When the tongue is ready, take it off the water and let it cool in the fridge. Once cold, slice the tongue and put it into an inox bowl. Reserve.

For the vinaigrette, make very small cubes of all the veggies, put them into a bowl and add the vinager and the olive oil. Season to taste.

Finally, pour the vinaigrette on the tongue and remove softly. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour until served.

Vitel Toné

Half a Veal Peceto

2 bay leaves

4 cloves

A pinch of black pepper

A full hand of coarse salt

1 boiled egg

¾ cup sunflower oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tuna can

4 anchovies filets

1 tsp capers

1 ts of high quality mustard

3 oz white wine

1 tsp of fresh cream

Step by step

Boil the peceto in a lot of water with the cloves, bay leaves, black pepper and coarse salt until it gets soft. Take it off the water and let it cool. Once cold, make very thin slices with it. Reserve in a bowl.

For the dressing, put in a blender the egg, the 2 oils and blend to make a mayonnaise, and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend to get a soft dressing. Rectify seasoning.

Pour the dressing onto the meat slices and mix with your hands.

Finally, let it marinate for at least 1 hour.

Final dish presentation:

In a square plate, put on the top left of the plate two slices of tongue with the vinaigrette on top.

On the top right, put the meat with the dressing on top and decorate with 2 capers.

At the end, in the bottom center of the plate, add the filled potato. Decorate with micro mix salad and editable flowers.

Wine: Sterling Vintner’s Collection 2013 Chardonnay ($12.99)

Tropical fruit, guava and peach are supported by crisp acidity, and aging in oak barrels rounds out the flavors by contributing notes of caramel and spice would pair great with a light salad to start off the meal.

Recipe: Sterling Spritzer

3 oz. Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay

1 oz. Elderflower Liqueur

2 oz. Club Soda

Lemon Twist

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