Wine Pairing Guide for the Christmas Feast

  • 2023-12-12

The holiday season is upon us, and soon we will gather around the festive table with our loved ones to enjoy delicious meals. But what wine should we pair with those festive dishes? Here's a guide to selecting the ideal wines for each course, ensuring a harmonious blend of flavors that will leave your guests impressed and your taste buds delighted.


Canapés + Champagne

Kick off your Christmas celebration with bubbles. Opt for a dry champagne to complement the salty notes of canapés. Best served from a stunning champagne wine cooler like the Dunavox Sera models.


Starters + Light-Bodied White Wine

For starters featuring smoked salmon, scallops, or ceviche, opt for a light-bodied and zingy white wine. Classic choices include Chablis or a Gavi from Piedmont. These wines provide a refreshing contrast to the lighter textures of the initial courses, preparing the palate for the festive journey ahead.


The main course

The main course for Christmas in Europe can vary significantly based on the country and regional traditions. Here are a few examples of typical European Christmas main courses and wine pairings:

In the United Kingdom, a classic Christmas main course is roast turkey, often accompanied by stuffing, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and cranberry sauce. 

Wine Pairing: A versatile choice for roast turkey is Pinot Noir. Its medium-bodied profile and red fruit notes complement the turkey without overpowering the varied side dishes. If you prefer white wine, a well-balanced Chardonnay works wonderfully.

In Italy, especially in southern regions, it is traditional to have a "Feast of Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. This multi-course seafood feast typically includes dishes like baccalà (salted cod), fried calamari, shrimp, and various fish preparations. Christmas Day may feature meat-based dishes like roast lamb or pork.

Wine Pairing: For seafood-centric feasts, consider a crisp and acidic Italian white wine like Vermentino or Pinot Grigio. These wines cut through the richness of seafood dishes and enhance the flavors.

In Germany, the Christmas main course can be Sauerbraten, a pot roast marinated in a sweet and sour sauce, often served with red cabbage and potato dumplings. Roast goose is also a popular choice, accompanied by stuffing and a variety of side dishes.

Wine Pairing: With Sauerbraten, opt for a Riesling from Germany to complement the sweet and sour notes. For roast goose, a medium to full-bodied red wine such as Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) or a rich Riesling can be an excellent choice.

In France, a festive main course might be chapon, a castrated rooster known for its tenderness. Another popular choice is roast duck, often served with a rich cherry or orange sauce. Side dishes may include chestnuts, foie gras, and a variety of vegetables.

Wine Pairing: A French Bordeaux, either red or white, can pair well with the richness of chapon or roast duck. For duck, a Pinot Noir or a Syrah can also be a delightful match.

In Spain, especially in Catalonia, roast lamb (Cordero Asado) is a traditional Christmas main course. It is often seasoned with garlic and rosemary and served with roasted vegetables. Seafood dishes are also common, reflecting the country's coastal regions.

Wine Pairing: Spanish Tempranillo, especially a Reserva or Gran Reserva, complements the flavors of roast lamb. Its robust character and dark fruit notes enhance the hearty nature of the dish.

In Sweden, a common Christmas main course is Julskinka, a Christmas ham that is typically boiled and then glazed and baked. It is often served cold and sliced thin. Additionally, lutefisk (dried fish reconstituted in a lye solution) is a traditional dish in some regions.

Wine Pairing: For Christmas ham, a slightly sweet white wine like Gewürztraminer or a light and fruity red wine such as Beaujolais can complement the sweetness of the glaze.

In Hungary a traditional course is Halászlé, a spicy fisherman's soup that varies in spiciness and ingredients based on regional preferences. It typically includes a mix of freshwater fish such as carp, catfish, and perch, seasoned with Hungarian paprika, onions, and garlic. The result is a flavorful and aromatic soup that warms the soul.

Wine Pairing: For Halászlé, a classic Hungarian wine pairing is Tokaji Furmint. This dry white wine from the Tokaj region complements the richness of the fisherman's soup. The wine's crisp acidity and citrusy notes balance the spiciness of the dish, creating a harmonious combination that showcases the unique flavors of Hungarian cuisine.


Dessert and Cheese + Sweet Wine or Port

For the grand finale featuring Christmas pudding and the cheese course, turn to sweet wines or port. Sauternes or Hungarian Tokaji Aszú work wonders with the fruity and spicy notes of Christmas pudding. This sweet wine journey seamlessly transitions into the cheese course, offering a heavenly combination, especially with a savory blue cheese.


End note

As you prepare to toast to the joy of the season, let this guide be your companion in selecting the perfect wines to complement the festive flavors of your Christmas dinner. May your celebrations be filled with warmth, joy, and the clinking of glasses in good company. Cheers to a Merry Christmas!