How to Pair Your Clean Wine & Holiday Dishes

November 13, 2020

As virtual family gatherings become the new norm, especially as we enter the holiday season, celebrating the simple things (like a nice glass of wine) are all the more important. So this year, make your at-home celebrations extra-special by pairing your clean wines like a pro. We asked Thrive Market Master Sommelier Josh Nadel for his expert recommendations on the best red and white clean wines to sip with your favorite holiday main courses and side dishes. From roasted chicken to green bean casserole, you’ll impress your virtual guests (and yourself, let’s be honest).

Wines to Pair With Poultry

Château de Minière Bourgueil 2018
For reds paired with poultry, I like a medium-bodied wine that has some zip and crunch—and that’s what we’ve got here. It’s versatile enough to weave between all sorts of prep and flavors, with a texture to keep you coming back for another sip between every bite.

Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2019
For whites—you need some body and a little palate cleanser that doesn’t fight with flavors, but complements them. This Chenin Blanc does just that.

Bonus: Wines to Pair with Turkey

Lyell Canyon Zinfandel Amador A.V.A California 2018
Turkey isn’t the fattiest and most tender meat in the world, no matter how you slice it. I love the juicy and fruity flavors of a California Zinfandel to compliment not only the bird, but all the fixings.

Chateau de Miniere Rosé
For white…try pink! This Rosé from the Loire Valley of France has a lot more going on than your usual patio and summer sip. It’s great as a chilled wine for lunch and also at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Wines to Pair With Seafood

Agharta Pinot Noir 2018
Low tannin and light body are important to keep in mind for reds rolling with seafood. Pinot Noir is a home run—and this one is light, bright and smooth. And a fun fact? It’s made at a winery run entirely on solar power.

Château Gravelle Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2018
Muscadet, a light, dry, mouth watering unoaked white is not to be confused with Muscat (in fact, it’s pretty much the polar opposite). Muscadet originates from the Atlantic coast and is just crying out every time seafood hits the table—from shellfish to skin on or off, white flesh to pink and orange.

Wines to Pair With Beef

Asado Cruz Malbec 2020
Malbec and beef are a match made in heaven—in Argentina it’s essentially a national pastime. Dark fruits, rich texture, drinkability and flavors that match perfectly with roasts, open fire cooking, grills…go forth, unafraid.

Tenuta dell’Ugolino Verdicchio Superiore ‘Vigneto Balluccio’ 2019
When it comes to whites with red meats, it’s important to choose something weighty. This Verdicchio is fuller than its Piaole counterpart and not too floral or citrus in flavor.

Wines to Pair With Pork

Masseria del Feudo Nero d’Avola DOC Sicily 2018
This Nero D’Avola is jam packed with ripe flavor, medium body and food-loving texture. Needless to say, it pops against all sorts of pork dishes—whether it’s a spice rub, glaze, chops, loins or ground/sausages. The lack of new oak contributes to this unique flavor profile, and it’s Italian, so you know it goes with food.

Patrizia Cadore Lugana 2019
For whites, I like medium-bodied, rounder wine with pork compared to lighter, crisper wines that I recommend with seafood or veggies. This unusual wine from northern Italy gives you all that, again without new oak getting in the way.

Wines to Pair With Vegetarian Mains

Domaine Py Merlot France 2019
Reds with veggie dishes can be tricky; there’s so much freshness and flavor to think about on that plate! This Merlot is mega agreeable—it blurs the line between a medium bodied and a soft red with juicy flavor.

Tenuta dell’Ugolino Verdicchio Classico Piaole 2019
Verdicchio is a wine we should all be drinking more of—it’s often served alongside fresh, light seafood and veggies on its home turf, the Adriatic coast of Italy. It complements freshness and the myriad savory flavors of veggies without overbearing citrus, oak, or weight.

The Best Wines to Pair with Holiday Side Dishes

Mashed Potatoes

Mas Paillet Chardonnay-Viognier 2019
Soft and round compliments soft and round—this medium-bodied white has a smooch of extra flavor from the viognier in the blend. And no judgements for making mashed potatoes and a glass or two of this wine as a full meal.

Mushroom Stuffing

Domaine de Grand Ribe Côtes du Rhône Villages France 2019
When it comes to pairing wine with Provençal herbs, we immediately head to wine of the Southern Rhône and Provence and do not stop to pass go. The juicy and unbridled flavors of this wine are born from fields strewn with the herbs used to season this stuffing. And while you might not be in Southern France, this combo will get you close!

Mac & Cheese

La Gironda “La Lippa” Barbera d’Asti Italy 2019
What is Mac & Cheese after all? That’s right, it’s pasta! Medium bodied and juicy with freshness to cut through all that queso, this wine is light enough on its feet for lunch, or for an epic day after of sandwiches and leftovers.

Green Bean Casserole

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône Rosé France 2019
Remember all that Rosé you drank all summer with fresh greens and produce? Keep doing it! This Rosé has delicious, delicate red fruit flavor that pops against the vegetal action in a green bean casserole, which in turn will taste even more casserole-y when contrasted with the freshness of the wine.

Cranberry Sauce

Lyell Canyon Zinfandel Amador A.V.A California 2018
Tart and juicy cranberry sauce wants a red with sun-drenched fruit and a ripeness that can handle the intense, tart fruit assault. And since we also love Zinfandel with turkey that might also be nearby…

What’s the fun of cooking during the holidays if you don’t sip on something special while you concoct your beautiful creations? Nadel recommends the Rebunzo Tinta Maturana D.O. Rioja from Spain. “This wine is made from a grape that is grown nowhere else in the world and is virtually extinct, which is a shame because it is delicious,” Nadel remarks. “The deep purple color and dark flavors are a perfect way to get your mind ready for any meal, and the impeccable balance between softness and a pinch of mouthwatering acidity will keep you coming back for more as you bob and weave about the kitchen.”

This article is related to:

Clean Wine

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Lily Comba

Lily Comba has never met a baked good she didn't like. When she's not baking, you'll find her writing, taking a Pilates class, or collaborating with the editorial and social team as a Senior Content Writer at Thrive Market.

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