It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Presents and decadent meals, perfectly thought out and prepared, magically appear at regular intervals, for your wandering eyes to see!
Unfortunately, if you’re reading this, you’re no longer 10, and you’re in charge of providing said magic and perfection. While we can’t buy and wrap all of the presents on your list, or roast your beef or spiral your ham for you, we can take the guesswork out of wine pairings.
The Garden State has more than enough feast-worthy wines to please every palate, no matter what’s on your menu. Read on for ideas, and get ready for fantastic holiday feasts with the perfect New Jersey wine.
New Jersey Wines to Pair With Appetizers
Smoked Salmon Canapes: Smoked salmon on flatbread, crackers, blinis mini bagels, cucumbers—generally with cream cheese or crème fraiche, but sometimes without—is a holiday staple. The perfect pairing for this salty, savory treat is a wine with enough acid to cut through the richness, and preferably bubbles too, to add a textural element. The William Heritage Blanc de Blanc, made from 100% Chardonnay, toasty with notes of brioche, lemon zest and saline is perfect.
Cheese Platter: Cheese platters with a wide range of flavors, ages and textures are often ideal for pleasing a big all-ages crowd with palates from teeny to titanic, but it can make finding an ideal wine challenging. But a light-bodied red can play with light, mild and fresh, as well as complex, aged and funky. Auburn Road Vineyards’ Good Karma was an instant-classic upon release, thanks to its easy-drinking, versatile style with light-bodied, fruit-forward notes. The blend changes a bit each year, but you can generally count on Merlot and Pinot Noir, with Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon often making an appearance.
New Jersey Wines to Pair With Entrees & Sides
Roasted Prime Rib: Prime Rib is the holiday showstopper that never goes out of style. Tender, unctuous and intense, you’re going to want a hearty wine, but nothing that will compete with the meat—or the bearnaise or mustard sauce you’ve got going alongside it. Hawk Haven’s Vineyard & Winery’s 2020 Q would be an ideal companion. The Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot offers flavors of plum, black cherry, fresh herbs and cocoa.
Spiral Ham: Another holiday mainstay, this ham dish is moist and chewy, salty, with a touch of honey. This sweet-and-salty main calls for a wine with an acid backbone, fruit and a hint of sweetness to balance the flavors. For the ham, we’d opt for Beneduce Vineyards’ Riesling, fruit-forward and approachable, with just a touch of sweetness.
Egg and Cheese Souffle: If you have a hearty vegetarian feast planned at some point, an egg and cheese souffle is probably on the menu. (Always a pinch-hit for all for holiday morning brunches too!) This light, airy, but savory dish—half-cake, half-casserole—calls for a rich white, like Pinot Gris. Old York Cellars makes an outstanding Pinot Gris, crisp and balanced, but off-dry with tropical notes and a lilting acidity.
Roasted Winter Vegetables: Lightly crisped and salted on the outside, tender and gooey on the inside, work well with lighter reds and mineral driven whites. Pair your roasted veggies with ham, and you can enjoy with the Beneduce Riesling, but if your cauliflower or Brussels sprouts need their very own companion, reach for a White Horse 2022 Chardonnay. Mineral driven and full of verve, you’ll find honeydew, citrus and green apple.
Au Gratin Potatoes: Would a holiday exist without a potato dish laden with cream and cheese? This perfect bowl of decadence and richness plays beautifully with rich opulent reds like Hawk Haven’s Q, and lighter and brighter reds, like the Sharrott Winery Tango, a harmonious red blend with complexity and verve.
New Jersey Wines to Pair With Desserts
Buche de Noel: For your sake, we hope this was store bought. And if not, kudos to you for making such a complex confection, on top of everything else. You deserve a drink! A port is the best pairing for this slice of mocha decadence. Valenzano’s Jersey Devil Port offers deep, rich, velvety, fruit-forward flavors.
Cookies: Call them Petit Fours if you must, these holiday pockets of buttery sweetness are often the simple but satisfying end a rich feast calls for. Whether they’re gingerbread, rainbow sprinkle, or linzer-style, you’re going to want a rich, but balanced wine. (An overly dry wine will compete with the sweet goodness of the cookies). Tomasello Winery’s American Almonique is a perfect special-occasion wine, made from Native American grapes and flavored with natural almond and vanilla extract.