How to Drink Wine in Winter: Food Pairings and Party Must-Haves

Winter is meant for wine.

Sure, every season is a good time to uncork a bottle. But something about the snow and cold weather outside makes sitting down with a good glass indoors all the more enjoyable. Add in holiday celebrations, and it’s no wonder we consume so much wine this time of year

To help you pick out the perfect bottles for holiday parties and seasonal dishes, we spoke with Sommelier Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi, of The Factory Kitchen in downtown Los Angeles. She delved into winter wine strategies, from reds to whites to dessert.

Plenty of Bubbly

“Anything bubbly is really good right now,” Diamond-Ferdinandi says. “Champagne and rosé Champagne goes well with this season’s foods.”

She points to a number of dishes for Champagne pairings: turkey, ham, oysters, lobster soup, and fish, cooked or raw. Rosé Champagne is similar, but with more body it can hold up against dishes like honeyed or fruit ham, or pork belly.

Over the course of a holiday meal, Diamond-Ferdinandi suggests that people start with a lighter champagne or any light bubbly and work their way up to a pinot noir for lighter fare, to Tempranillo, Syrah or Cabernet if they serve red meat. Or you can even make a full meal with champagne pairings, she adds, from a lighter crisper style, to rose, up to fuller-bodied, oak-aged champagne.

The Factory Kitchen features a number of Champagnes that Diamond-Ferdinandi recommends.

Marc Hebrart Rose Brut ($105 per bottle), from Vallée de la Marne, is made of grapes sourced from small growers around the region.

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The Franz Gojer 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, and the Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2014, both from Alto Adige, Italy.

She also pointed out these two Champagnes. Lallier Grand Cru 2005 ($120 per bottle), from Champagne, is fuller-bodied because it contains 55% pinot noir. The Vilmart Cuvee Grand Cellier ($140 per bottle), from Montagne de Reims, is bigger, richer, and spicier for being aged in oak barrels.

A White Christmas

“A holiday party is going to have all different types of people with different tastes,” Diamond-Ferdinandi says. “Some people don’t want to leave their comfort zones with wine, which can mean their sauvignon blanc and their chardonnay.”

She recommends that party hosts keep around bottles of sauvignon blanc or riesling. Both are crowd-pleasers. Sauvignon blanc matches up with vegetable dishes and salads, while riesling works well with a number of holiday dishes.

“With a tiny bit of sweetness, riesling can go with turkey, ham, duck, and even pork,” Diamond-Ferdinandi says. “Sauvignon blanc, like Chardonnay, is a crowd pleaser. They are both good to have around for family and friends who always drink the same thing”

For whites, The Factory Kitchen offers the Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2014 ($52 per bottle, $13 per glass) from Alto Adige, Italy. It’s a dry wine with the full flavor to compliment winter foods like turkey and vegetables, and stuffing.

Even bigger is the Elena Walch “Kastelaz” Gewürztraminer 2013 ($85 per bottle) from Alto Adige, Italy.

Sauvignon blancs at The Factory Kitchen include the Venica & Venica “Ronco del Cero” 2014 ($64/$16) from Friuli, Italy, and the Franz Gojer 2013 ($75 per bottle) from Alto Adige, Italy.

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