Hosting a Holiday Wine Party
Why not take the opportunity during the holidays to indulge your love of wine? You can share it with family and friends while enjoying your favorite festive foods. This post will walk you through the process of throwing a holiday wine party that features four wines with finger foods. Having a party without a sit-down dinner will make preparation easier for you and give people a chance to mingle and enjoy the gathering without formality. Enjoy the season!
You'll need to decide how much wine to have on hand. I suggest that you choose one dry sparkling wine like Champagne or Cava, one light red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, one Port, and a sweet white wine like Sauternes. You might also want to have some still white wine around in case someone asks for it - some people aren't happy without their Chardonnay. For help with calculating necessary quantities, see our previous post on the subject.
Welcome your guests with sparkling wine and savory snacks
I recommend sparkling wine at the beginning of almost every party, and this is no exception. Few beverages are as festive as sparkling wine, which is perfect for awakening the appetite and tapping your glass with that of a friend. Pair this glass of sparkling wine with savory finger foods. Lighter items like vegetables and cheese work really well with sparkling wine. Save the sweeter treats for later in the evening, since they don't pair particularly well with dry wine.
Offer a second round of snacks with red wines
Keep an eye on your guests' glasses. Offer refills to those who are drinking more quickly and try to identify the place when everyone has arrived and had a chance to drink some wine and try the first range of snacks. Then, bring out a second round of savory snacks and some red wine. When choosing foods, think about the kinds of the things you might serve at Thanksgiving, like cranberry, squash, apples, sweet potatoes, etc. You can also consider serving waterfowl, which is a traditional winter fare in many cultures. Duck and goose, for example, are great for the holidays and pair beautifully with Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Both wines are light bodied and smooth making them very versatile pairing partners with food.
Serve your first round of sweet foods with Sauternes
With your first round of sweets, offer Sauternes - a sweet French wine with flavors including peach, honey, and ginger. This will be your chance to serve Russian or sugar cookies. Save the spicier, darker cookies for the next course.
Serve your second round of sweets with Port
For the final round, offer a Tawny or Ruby Port with chocolate or gingerbread cookies. Port is made by adding brandy to a partially complete red wine fermentation. The yeast in the vat is killed before it has a chance to finish converting the fruit sugar into alcohol. The result is a sweet, highly alcoholic red wine that works beautifully with sweet foods. Ports and other fortified wines have a long heritage as celebratory drinks at the end of an evening - Ruby Port has fruity flavors of candied cherry and plum, whereas Tawny Port features notes of chocolate, toffee, and toasted nuts. Either one will serve to bring your holiday party to a cheerful and sophisticated conclusion.