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Our Twelve Wines of Christmas

Everyone relishes a happy and joyful holiday season, and while decorations and festivities abound, nothing is more satisfying than the warm companionship and conversation of holiday dining. When you enjoy your special traditions and recipes for that fabulous family meal, the superb banquet with friends, or the cozy dinner for two, nothing adds more to special holiday dining than just the right partnering with wine. But always remember Rule #1 of pairing wine with food? there are NO rules when it comes to matching wine with your favorite recipe. Don?t worry whether it?s red or white, dry or fruity ? the ultimate match is the one that best pleases your palate. And when you discover that perfect match, make notes so you can replicate your success, and share it with others.

Here at 100BestWines.com, we thought that the ?Twelve Days of Christmas? tradition would be an excellent vehicle to offer some exquisite wine selections we?ve found successful for the holidays. Here are a few versatile wines that will surely enhance your dining experience.

The 1st day of Christmas Wines ?

? a refreshing Riesling to kick off the holidays

Our Recommended Selections
Jacobs Creek 2004 Reserve Riesling (Screw Cap)? Australia
Columbia Winery 2005 Cellarmaster's Riesling ? Washington State
Dom. Schlumberger 2002 Riesling Les Princes Abba ? Alsace, France
Fess Parker 2005 Santa Barbara White Riesling - California

What a wonderful choice to kick off the holidays, and with several styles of Riesling for you to share and enjoy. A good dry vintage from the venerable Alsace region of France, or new vintages from Australia, California, or Washington State which tend to have heady floral aromas and fruit that hold up well due to a higher acidity. These varietals pair well with many foods, but may be best enjoyed on their own to prevent masking the full aromas and flavors.

A sweeter-style, or off dry, Riesling from Germany shares many of the same characteristics as their dryer cousins, but are enhanced with a deeper, richer texture and mouth-feel. These Rieslings can stand-up to strong cheeses such as Stilton or Maytag Blue and can offset the spiciness of many Asian dishes.

The 2nd day of Christmas Wines ?
? pair a Pinot Noir with your turkey

Our Recommended Selections
Louis Jadot 2004 Pinot Noir ? Burgundy, France
King Estate 2004 Pinot Noir ? Willamette Valley, Oregon
Kendall-Jackson 2005 Vintners Reserve Pinot Noir - California

A classic wine for the classic holiday dinner, Pinot Noirs, responsible for the hearty wines of Burgundy, France, can exhibit complex flavors that are fruity and floral. Pinots from France tend to be warmer and more like a Merlot while Oregon produces lighter floral forward scents, and California will be fruitier. But don?t be afraid to experiment with the excellent Pinots produced in Chile, Australia, and New Zealand.

While the grape may be difficult to grow the wine is exciting on the palate producing smooth berry flavors and a texture that won?t disappoint. Your turkey will definitely be enhanced by this remarkable wine.

The 3rd day of Christmas Wines ?
? choose a special Merlot when you cook your goose

Our Recommended Selections
Casa Lapostolle 2004 Cuvee Alexandre Merlot ? Chile
Covey Run 2003 Merlot - Columbia Valley, Washington
Oberon 2001 Merlot - Napa Valley, California
Echelon 2002 Merlot - Central Coast, California

The richness of the goose is well accented by a full-bodied Merlot. This ever increasingly popular varietal, at home in Bordeaux, is being cultivated around the world. More supple than a Cabernet these wines want to please. Lush, ripe berry flavors are accompanied with varying intensities of spice. From Bordeaux to Napa Valley to Chile and South Africa there are so many wineries from which to choose.

The 4th day of Christmas Wines ?
? make sure to sparkle when you celebrate

Our Recommended Selections
Domaine Chandon Etoile ? Napa Valley, CA
Dom. Chandon NV Brut Classic ? Napa Valley, CA

We all enjoy classic French Champagne when we celebrate, but these days, a sparkling wine from California is equally pleasing. There is a wide range of styles from which to choose to suit you taste - from dryest to sweetest they are Extra Brut (with 1.5% residual sugar), Brut, Extra Sec, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux (with more than 5% sugar).

Our two favorites are from Domaine Chandon and are ?dry? or Brut selections from one of the most beautiful wineries in Napa Valley. The only thing better than enjoying this for your holiday toast would be to enjoy it, and the view, from the Domaine Chandon winery itself.

The 5th day of Christmas Wines ?
? add some zip with just the right Zin

Our Recommended Selections
Dry Creek Vineyard 2003 Old Vines Zinfandel ? Sonoma, CA
Estancia 2004 Zinfandel Paso Robles ? Central Coast, CA
Ridge 2003 York Creek Zinfandel ? Sonoma, CA

The zip is no mistake in these robust wines that features good structure built upon a nose of ripe cherries and raspberries and a finish of spices and pepper. You?ll find a zinfandel to be a great accompaniment to any main course, and a wonderful wine to continue to enjoy even after the meal has ended.

Don?t be alarmed - Christmas hasn?t ended after just five days - there are seven more days of Christmas, and fantastic wines for them yet to come! Check back next week to discover even more great holiday wine adventures.

We hope this light hearted approach to holiday wine pairing has helped you with your Yuletide planning. For even more help, check out our guide to wine selection and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

- Michael Zanatta
Michael is a freelance writer and wine connoisseur whose family vineyards are in the Veneto region of Italy.

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