Ahh the holidays. It’s a time for unrealistic expectations, guilt, and seeing your in-laws. I don’t know about you, but I’m better at dealing with all of these things when I’ve had a glass or two (or three) of my favorite wine. So I’m here to help you pair your favorite sweet holiday treats with the right wine. Get ready to impress your in-laws or get so drunk you just won’t care what they think!
I’m gonna go light to dark, like they do at wine tastings, because clearly I’m an expert and I’m fancy AF.
Reisling with Stollen
Stollen is traditional German Christmas bread, filled with nuts and dried fruit and covered with powdered sugar. It’s like fruitcake and a cinnamon roll got freaky and had a delicious baby. If you’ve never had it, try it, because es ist gut.
I’ve paired the stollen with a sweet Reisling. The Reisling’s vanilla aroma and low acidity paired well with the super sweet coating on the stollen. I’m not a white wine drinker normally, but I was actually surprised how much I liked this combo. The wine actually cut a bit of the sweetness of the bread, and since the bread was sweeter than the wine, everything tasted better.
Prosecco and Wensleydale
Who doesn’t love cheese? You? Well fuck you. Oh, you DO love cheese? Good, that’s what I thought. Cheese is only the only thing I look forward to when I go to my in-laws. There is always wine and always cheese and for that I am eternally grateful. To add a dash of holiday spirit (not the boozy kind) I picked out a cranberry Wensleydale and paired it with Prosecco.
Prosecco, aka the poor man’s Champagne, is one of my favorite sparkling spirits. It’s cheaper than Champagne, and lord knows I can’t tell the difference, so it’s a win-win. The lightly sweet, super creamy Wensleydale calms the high acid of the Prosecco. The occasional tart bite of cranberry brightens up the whole combination.
Pinot Noir and Gingerbread
I bought this gorgeous gingerbread from Whole Foods and delighted in it’s resemblance to some sort of Puritan wood carving. I’ve found that gingerbread can be incredible divisive. People either love it or hate it. Some people like it crispy, others soft. While some like it more like a cookie, others like it more like a cake. I’m not here to settle that debate (obviously soft and cookie-like is the only correct answer), but I am here to say it tastes damn good with red wine.
Pinor Noir is my go-to wine, and to me, gingerbread is the most iconic holiday treat, so this had to be my favorite combination. The Mark West Pinot Noir I chose is a little bit spicy, woodsy, and acidic, which complemented the spices in the gingerbread nicely – so nicely I drank about a third of the bottle making sure I liked the combo. (Spoiler alert: I did.)
Merlot and Peppermint Bark
Let me just say this before I start: I fucking love peppermint bark. When I die, it will probably be written into my obituary that I am survived by a husband, two children, and an undying love of peppermint bark. It’s my jam, and something I look forward to every holiday season. That being said, the bark I used for this tasting was perfectly fine, but not my favorite. The best is the Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark with a hint of sea salt. But I digress.
I worried a little about doing a wine pairing with peppermint. The combination of mint and wine has always been a little off to me, like drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth. However, the rich dark chocolate was the primary flavor, and that paired with the Bogle Merlot I picked out. Also, I’ve never given Merlot a fair shake before. It’s actually pretty good! Either that or I was just buzzed enough by the time I got to it that it didn’t matter. Either way: YUM!
Malbec and Fruitcake
Yes, fruitcake. The most feared and mocked of holiday treats. I had never had fruitcake before, and my only experience with it was as the butt of holiday jokes. (One year, my family wrapped a dozen fruitcakes in a variety of boxes and bags and gave it to my aunt as her only presents. Cruel? Sure. Funny? You know it!) I found this fancy-ass fruitcake and make the mistake of purchasing it without checking the price first. It was TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. American dollars. Seriously, what the fuck, Whole Foods? For that price, I could not afford for this to be a “joke” food. And thankfully, it wasn’t. This was a booze-soaked delight of spicy goodness.
I’ve also never had a Malbec (apparently I don’t have diverse taste in wine), and it’s rich, dark, chocolatey undertones paired so well with the dense fruitcake. As the darkest wine, the Malbec needed the strongest flavor to stand up to it, and the fruitcake definitely delivered that. All-in-all, I was pleased with both the wine and the fruitcake. I had one for breakfast the next morning – I’ll let you choose which one it was.
So there you have it, a SAHM’s excuse to buy five bottles of wine and open them all in one night. My favorite part of all of this was forcing my sister to help me – she hates gingerbread, dried fruit, and white wine, so watching her eat and drink all these was HILARIOUS. Or I am just a horrible person. Either way, I had a great time and I highly suggest you make this a new holiday tradition.
Want some holiday movies that are so bad, they’re good to go with your wine? Check out my post about sappy Christmas movies on Today I’m Struggling With.
What’s your favorite holiday food and wine pairing? Tell me the comments, and give me an excuse to go buy more wine!