wines for special occasions

Best Wines for Your Special Occasion

Certain wines and foods are meant for each other. Consider the following when serving wine at your special occasions.

Wines for Weddings

cakeWhen the subject of weddings come up, visions of meaningful wedding toasts and wonderful, bubbly Champagnes often come to mind. But which Champagne should your offer at your wedding? What about the best wedding wines to serve and savor on your special day? If you are a Wine Lover and are hoping to incorporate your passion for the vine into your big day there are plenty of unique and creative options to do just that!

A Marriage of Food and Wine

For starters, consider what flavors, styles and varieties of foods you will be serving at the reception, then you can with the selected foods to bring the unique flavors out the best. If you are planning on serving several types of wine in addition to champagne you may consider a combination of whites and reds.

The ever popular Chardonnay, the wine world’s current favorite white wine, or a cool crisp Riesling would more than fit the bill for the white wine category. As for red wines to consider, Cabernet Sauvignon is always a party hit for red wine drinkers, or for those who prefer a softer red with more versatile food-pairing options, a Pinot Noir would be a perfect pick. Last, but not least, you may consider serving a few bottles of White Zinfandel (I can hear you, hard-core “real” Wine Lovers groaning), but the fact is White Zinfandel has a following and many of those followers find themselves at wedding receptions!

The Toast

Wine-themed Wedding Favors

Fun wine wedding favors will help to celebrate your big day with family and friends. You can find everything from wine goblet placecard holders to heart-shaped wine bottle stoppers. You can even pick your own wine and wedding wine labels at Signature Wines. These wines are ideal for guest favors or for reception decor and pouring.

Best Wines for Your Thanksgiving Feast

holiday winesWith Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there is no better time to start planning your dinner menu and selecting wines to complement your feast. Historically, the week before Thanksgiving is a great time to buy wine as many wine merchants will run specials on preferred wines.

The big question – which wine or wines to go with the variety of tastes, textures and aromas that uniquely present themselves on Thanksgiving day? Should you choose one wine to carry you through appetizers to desserts – a tough request, but certainly doable. Or should you choose several wines to accent different components of the meal and cater to a variety of guests’ palates? The choice is entirely up to you, but here are some options to get you started.

From appetizers, to white and dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing, cranberry relish, pickled this and peppered that, all the way to pumpkin or pecan pie – is there truly a single wine that can take you seamlessly from start to finish? The art of pairing wines with food is largely a matter of personal preference, but some tried and true Thanksgiving wines are Pinot Noir and Syrah/Shiraz and Zinfandel for red wine lovers and Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer for those who prefer white wines. Typically wines that offer a light-medium body and present themselves with lower tannin levels and less complexity are better suited to the vast array of flavors they are meant to complement.

Best White Wine Options

  • Sauvignon Blanc – a crisp white wine that is noted for its earthy, herbaceous flavors – a prime candidate specifically for turkey and herb-filled stuffing.
  • Viognier – a white wine with low levels of acidity and characterized by light floral flavors often surrounded by delicate touches of peaches and pears.
  • Riesling – a white wine that may either be bone dry or fairly sweet, excellent with any dishes that may have a bit of spice to them.
  • Gewurztraminer– another white wine that may present itself dry or sweet, depending on the style. This wine has a zestiness that allows it to pair nicely with side dishes that may have a bit more kick to them, but also settles well with a variety of dessert options.

Top Red Wine Options

  • Pinot Noir – this red wine is a traditional favorite for Thanksgiving. It is easy going enough to complement just about any flavor you can throw at it.
  • Zinfandel – a red wine that ups the intensity from a Pinot Noir, but still maintains a balancing effect on many traditional side dishes. This would be a great pick for those looking for a heartier wine with deeper flavors.
  • Syrah/Shiraz – another red wine that picks up the intensity and flavor, yet graciously handles the cornucopia of flavors in a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The peppery notes will accent a flavorful helping of stuffing as well as both the white and dark turkey meats.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau – a light, fruity red wine that goes very well with turkey and all of the fixings. This wine is released from France on the third Thursday of November, just in time to highlight your Thanksgiving feast!

Another apt consideration if you are looking for a single wine to serve this Turkey day is a sparkling or rosé wine. Both provide a capable go between for those that are not firmly camped in either the red or white wine trenches. If you are considering a sparkling wine you may choose one labeled as “extra dry” – which will offer a touch more fruit flavor than a brut. As for rosé wines, a drier selection will be the most versatile for pairing with virtually any part of the Thanksgiving feast. Keep in mind that if you are hosting 5 or 50 guests this Thanksgiving that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to offer a lovely selection of wines. There are many well-received, well-rated value wines that you can obtain for $10 or less.

Wine Suggestions for Christmas Dinner

holiday winesChristmas dinners are a great time to try new wines with favorite recipes of old. Will it be ham, turkey, goose or prime rib? Looking for wine options to complement your holiday meal? Look no further, here is a terrific selection of versatile whites and reds that are sure to enhance your Christmas gathering. Christmas dinner may be the largest family gathering of the year. To make your gathering extra special here are several wonderful wines varietals to get you started.

Wines to Serve with Ham
Reds: Beajolais Nouveau , Pinot Noir, Zinfandel
Whites: Riesling and Gewurztraminer

Wines to Serve with Turkey
Reds: Pinot Noir , Zinfandel , Syrah/Shiraz, Beajolais Nouveau
Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer

Wines to Serve with Goose
Reds: Zinfandel , Red Burgundy
Whites: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Wines to Serve with Prime Rib
Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz


A Few Hints to Start Your Matchmaking

Like a good marriage, wine and food were meant for each other. Each enhances and strengthens the experience of the whole. So why is it so daunting to try to pair foods with wines? Rumor has it that there are hefty laundry lists of rules and regulations that require strict adherence in order to obtain the perfect wine and food pairing.
Grab a pen and paper to write down rule #1.

Rule #1 states that there are NO rules when matching your favorite wines with your beloved recipes, sure there are hints and popular, even “famous” matches, but ultimately the best match is what pleases your palate. It is truly personal preference. That said, here are some hints to help you determine what might be palate pleasing for you personally.

Flavor Interactions

First let’s consider flavor interactions.

You are only able to detect four distinct flavors with your tongue: sweet, sour, salty and bitter; while your nose is able to decipher over 200 different aromas. Between the combination of sensory uptakes from both your tongue and your mouth you are able to experience a vast array of flavor characteristics and nuances. As you begin to pair wines with foods, keep in mind that the flavors of the foods can both contradict and compliment wine selections, and both can be good. For example, a sweet Riesling can make a bag of salty chips taste even more appealing by contrasting the saltiness while yielding some of its intrinsic sweetness, or when paired with a rich dessert like cheesecake the sweetness of the wine would likely mellow in flavor due to the overriding influence of the cheesecake.

Heavy vs. Light – Next, consider whether a dish is “heavy” or “light” in nature, the difference between a meal consisting of steak and potatoes or one that tends toward a chicken and vegetable stir-fry. In general, most people seem to prefer heartier foods paired with fuller-bodied red wines and lighter fare to be complimented by more delicate white wines. Again, these are preference generalizations, a place to start and then experiment with your own combinations. Some tend to find it easier to remember red wines with red meats and white wines enhance white meats.

Other Factors to Consider – Other factors to take into account when looking at pairing potentials is the foods acidity. Acidic foods, like a Greek salad or lemon-based sauce work well with wines that share an acidic undertone (Pinot Grigio for example). While foods that lean to the sweeter side, like a chicken apple salad, tend to pair well with wines that are just a bit drier than the food they are to compliment (for example an off-dry Riesling).

Whatever match you make with foods and wines, enjoy the adventure, and don’t get too caught up in the rumored regulations. Make a note of pairings you’ve enjoyed for future reference and keep mixing and matching to learn how each component offers influences, be they subtle or strong.

What is your favorite wine for special occasions? Why? Leave your suggestions below. 

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