Holiday wine pairing made easy: from small bites to holiday feasts

Holiday wine pairing can seem a bit daunting at first. How do you find something that everyone will like? Holiday parties and gatherings may look a little different this year, but whether you are going to a party or hosting your own, we’ve got some tips from Criss Smiley and Smiley Brothers Specialty Foods to make sure you have the best wine for the menu you’re preparing.

Holiday Wine Pairing 101:

What wines pair well with small bites?

For small bites and appetizers, you need a wine that is versatile – something that can be served in the afternoon or early evening. You will want to appease most pallets – one great option would be a Sancerre. This will pair well with most of your dishes and is both fruity enough for the lighter dishes and bold enough for the bigger ones.

If you were looking for a single option that will cover all the bases for a small social gathering, a citrusy, dry Riesling is a great option. If it’s a red you are looking for, you can’t go wrong with a traditional blend from the Rhone Valley, or a Pinot Noir (either Burgundy or Domestic).

What wines pair well with a holiday dinner?

If it’s the holiday dinner, and you are having steak, roasted beef or lamb, you should take a look at a Bordeaux or a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State, Oregon or California. If you are doing a traditional Italian feast of the Seven Fishes, you can have a lot of fun pairing the different varietals and blends with all of the sauces, stews and pastas that make up this special holiday dinner.

What about champagne?

We think of champagne for New Year’s Eve, but a nice bubbly is perfect for any holiday gathering. Champagne can be the most versatile option at your disposal. A good bottle will have a great balance of acid that will cut through the fattiest of foods but also have enough fruit to pair well with a delicate dessert. Champagne is often overlooked as a great food wine. With its flavors of lemon curd, brioche, toasted almond and green apple mixed with its great balance of acidity it pairs well with sweet and savory alike.

How can you be sure you like a wine before buying a whole bottle?

Be on the lookout for tasting events. Smiley Brother Specialty Foods have virtual wine tasting events where you can purchase three wines and then share them with family or friends. That is always a great way to find new wines. You can even set up a time to visit Smiley Brothers where they can help you pick out a bottle. They can talk through what you are pairing the wine with, talk about the flavor profile, and get a good understanding of what kind of flavors you enjoy.

Smiley Brothers Specialty Foods is located at 214 Huntley Pkwy, Pelham, AL 35124.

Call (205) 406-8421 or visit for more information.