2023 Holiday Food & Wine Pairings

Wine Industry Experts share their favorites.

The holiday season offers a time of togetherness, celebration, and a few annual indulgences. Food and wine play a significant role in these festivities during the last months leading up to the new year. Pairing the right wine with your holiday meals enhances the flavors of your dishes and creates memorable experiences with your loved ones. Yet, finding the perfect wine for your holiday meal can be as daunting as buying a gift for your parents. That is why Haute Living, San Francisco asked some experts in the wine industry to share some of their mouthwatering pairings as an early present to our readers. 

McCollum Heritage 91 

CJ McCollum, Vintner, McCollum Heritage 91

Wine: McCollum Heritage 91 2020 Chardonnay 

Holiday Food: Collard greens

Why did you choose this pairing?

I chose collard greens to pair with the Chardonnay, because I’ve been eating them since I was a kid. It’s a part of our family tradition to eat collard greens along with other dishes that are customary in the Black community, particularly the South where my grandmother is from. My mom makes some of the best collard greens I’ve ever tasted in my life. 

The vibrant, rich, and smooth combination of flavors of the Chardonnay allow it to pair well with anything; however, on this occasion, I think it pairs particularly well with collard greens. There are other dishes with the meal around the holidays, but I especially love collard greens with a bit of hot sauce on top. The combination of flavor acidity and heat from the greens along with the seasoning allows the wine to pop. It is customary to add bacon, turkey, or another protein to the collard greens as it simmers and cooks. Chili flakes, along with other spices, bring out the taste, and the Chardonnay complements it really well. It also helps bring out the flavors if your Chardonnay is slightly chilled or stored at a good wine cooler temperature. 

McBride Sisters Collection 

Robin McBride, Cofounder and President of the McBride Sisters Wine Company 

Wine: McBride Sisters Collection 2021 Reserve Chardonnay “The Great Escape” 

Holiday Food: Cajun turkey

Why did you choose this pairing?

This prestigious wine is an escape from the overly oaked style of many California Chardonnays, and [it] highlights the natural elegance and bright flavors of the grape. To me, this crisp and playful wine is perfect with a robust, juicy Cajun turkey. Cajun turkey is actually a new Thanksgiving tradition for my family after I first brought it to the table last year. I’m looking forward to enjoying the wine’s crisp acidity and fresh, crunchy fruit contrasted with the turkey’s many layers of spice.  

Andréa McBride, Cofounder and CEO of the McBride Sisters Wine Company 

Wine: McBride Sisters Collection 2022 Central Coast Pinot Noir 

Holiday Food: Chocolate and jalapeño short ribs

Why did you choose this pairing?

I recommend the new McBride Sisters Collection 2022 Central Coast Pinot Noir to enhance a holiday meal. This fresh, ruby-colored Pinot Noir is blended from sustainably grown grapes and offers aromas of bright red cherry and crushed raspberry. It is lush and earthy and pairs elegantly with spicy, tender chocolate and jalapeño short ribs. Coming from Aotearoa, New Zealand, I don’t understand why Americans make such a fuss over dry turkey. I grew up with all types of tenderized meat, not just at holidays, but often at family dinners, and if I could make any recommendation for Thanksgiving dinner, it would be to try a new tradition! Especially because the rich and well-balanced flavor of the chocolate and jalapeño short ribs complement the plum, spice, and soft hint of oak flavors within the wine, leaving a finish of vivid flavors on the palate.

Rodney Strong Vineyards 

Justin Seidenfeld, Senior Vice President Of Winemaking & Winegrowing 

Wine: 2018 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon 

Holiday Food: Garlic butter rib roast

Why did you choose this pairing?
Nothing is better than a roasted meal during the holidays! I enjoy a tender and juicy garlic butter rib roast, and Rodney Strong’s Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with the spices and flavors of the holiday season. The ripe flavors of black currant, blackberries, and violets in the Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon complement the savory herbs and seasonings from the meal’s ingredients. The wine is rich and velvety with soft tannins and a long, lingering finish that sticks around with every bite, especially the buttery crust of the rib roast.

Intercept Wines 

Charles Woodson, Vintner, Intercept Wines

Wine: Intercept Red Blend 

Holiday Food: Beef Wellington

Why did you choose this pairing?

The holidays are a cause for celebration and special meals with big bold flavors. A roasted beef Wellington this time of year fits the special occasion, and pairs deliciously with the Intercept Red Blend! The earthy and herbaceous flavors of beef Wellington are enhanced by the fruit and spice in the Intercept Red Blend which features Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. This full-bodied wine with fine tannins and a long, spicy finish complements the heartier mushrooms from the Wellington filling and the seasoned, charred beef fillet. 

Chosen Family Wines 

Channing Frye, Vintner, Chosen Family Wines

Wine: 2021 Chosen Family Wines X Salty Goats Cabernet Sauvignon

Holiday Food: Cowboy cut steak

Why did you choose this pairing?

My go-to holiday pairing is my Salty Goats X Cabernet Sauvignon with a cowboy cut steak, medium rare, with sautéed mushrooms and hash brown potatoes with sour cream. The notes of plum, black cherry, graphite, and dried herbs are the dream team on your palate with this filling holiday meal. 

Foley Family Wines

Courtney Foley, Second Generation Vintner, Foley Family Wines

Wine: 2021 Ferrari-Carano Tré Terre Chardonnay

Holiday Food: Sugar cookies

Why did you choose this pairing?

Sugar cookies are the embodiment of holiday merrymaking. Pairing wine with sugar cookies doesn’t get any easier than with a bottle of 2021 Ferrari-Carano Tré Terre Chardonnay. The luscious mouthfeel of this wine envelopes the delicate texture of sugar cookies, and hints of toasted oak create a harmonious pairing of vanilla and baking spice that echoes the flavors of the sugar cookie. The wine’s acidity, expressed in golden apples and lemon chiffon, lift the richness of the cookie, making this the perfect combination of sugar, spice, and acidity.

Sarah Quider, Senior Vice President, Foley Family Wines

Wine: Foley Family 2019 Brut Sparkling

Holiday Food: Caviar

Why did you choose this pairing?

A beloved classic for kicking off celebrations, sparkling wine and caviar are a timeless pairing. Foley Family 2019 Brut Sparkling offers delicate aromas of citrus zest and green apples and lively acidity, complementing the salty, creamy texture of caviar. As the 2019 vintage brut unfolds on the palate, the wine showcases its freshness and effervescence, and when paired with the delicacy of caviar, it creates a sublime pairing for which the whole is greater than the sum of its two parts.

Alison Rodriguez, Winemaker, Silverado Vineyards

Wine2016 Silverado Vineyards GEO Cabernet Sauvignon

Holiday FoodHoliday roast/prime rib

Why did you choose this pairing?

The holiday roast has become a tradition and custom in many homes. The 2016 Silverado Vineyards GEO Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine to pair with this tender, rich, flavorful dish that’s often roasted to medium rare or medium. When served au jus and with sides such as sautéed mushrooms, creamed spinach, and mashed potatoes, our Silverado Cab is the perfect go-to wine pairing. This single vineyard, full-bodied red reveals aromas of blackberry, chocolate, and violets. The tannins have rounded and softened with age, making this wine an elegant addition to the dinner table that won’t overpower your dish and all its trimmings.

Noël Burgess

Noël Burgess is an East Coaster living in Northern California wine country. His goal is to promote diversity and inclusion in wine, food, and travel with a focus on the places, the products, and most importantly, the people! Noels work can be found in VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, Travel & Leisure, Thrillist, San Francisco Magasine, and many other media platforms. Follow him on Instagram @mrnoelburgess and at noelburgess.com.