A Guide to Holiday Pairings

The holidays, while festive, can add to your stress levels with all of the preparations of the traditional feasts, gathering of family and the pressure to make sure you do better than last year (#nolumpymashers).  In addition to making sure you don’t forget the salt in this year’s green bean casserole, you want to present your guests with libations that will be sure to please their palates and enhance your culinary prowess.  Fear not!  Big Red has all of the right choices to help your flavors pop and your spirits be bright.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

What is your audience?  Are you having the extended family over with your cousin’s cousin brother’s girlfriend’s family? Is it an intimate affair with just the family you like and grouchy grandpa? Are you going rogue with your foodie ‘Friendsgiving’?  Knowing your audience will help you determine how much wine you will be requiring and also the level of sophistication that you will need.

As for how much wine you will need, for a dinner style feast always plan on three 4.5 ounce glasses per person and if it is a cocktail style gathering plan on four glasses, apparently standing makes people thirsty! Each bottle of wine is 25.4 ounces, and you can get about 5 proper pours out of a bottle of wine. However, everyone has that uncle who ‘claims’ he doesn’t know the difference between a $5 and a $50 bottle of wine, yet always seems to be filling his glass, to the top with the expensive stuff…so, like I said, know your audience. I always err on the side of buying too much than not enough.  Wine isn’t going to go bad in the next few months, or even years, so you can use the extras later. You don’t want to have to go to your local Big Red liquors in the middle of your party…that’s a ‘Party Foul’.

After you’ve determined how many guests and you’ve gauged the knowledge of your group, the next is budget.  If you want to spend lots on wine, you can…but you don’t have to.  There are many options outside of the major wine regions that are just as delicious but at a fraction of the cost.  Instead of Champagne, you can choose a lovely Cremant from France. Instead of Napa Cabernet, you can try a Cabernet from South America.  It pays (literally) to be bold and seek out treasures from outside your comfort zones.

OK…on to the pairings:


This can be a tough one because of the myriad of flavors that go into the traditional meal. Go-to wines tend to be Gewurztraminers for whites and Pinot Noir for red…but for an adventurous take, I recommend white Burgundy, A white from Gascogne, France or a Spanish Verdejo for the white wine options. For reds: Cru Beaujolais (Morgon or Moulin A Vent are my faves), Nebbiolo or Barbara from Piedmont, Italy.  All of these have the acidity to pair well with the cornucopia of flavors at the ‘harvest table’.

Thanksgiving Go-to:

Holiday feasts:

If you are preparing ham, I recommend an off-dry Riesling from Alsace or Germany.  Not all Rieslings are candy sweet, Riesling has a vibrant and food-friendly acidity that makes it very versatile with lots of food preparations. Pinot noir is also a great Ham pairing, as the fruit of the wine plays wonderfully with the saltiness of the protein.

Should roast beef appear on the menu, I would recommend Syrah or Cabernet.  If you don’t want to spend the ducats on a Napa expression, I implore you to take a look at Paso Robles or Argentina- fantastic wines at reasonable prices.

What about a Brunch?  There are plenty of options for dry sparkling wines for your Mimosa, French 75s or Bellini…but you might want to wander into Moscato d’Asti territory.  While they have some sweetness, there is a balancing acidity that makes the perfect for the first drink of the day.  There are other lighter effervescent wines that will also help fit the bill and goes with egg casserole.

And as always…when it doubt – Sparkle it out!  Sparkling wine goes with everything.   Really, everything.

If you’d like other options for your holiday feasts, I would be happy to help!  Just email me and I will do my best to Sherpa you through the holiday wine landscape!

Below are some of my GO-TO wines of this season at Big Red Liquors:

Sparkling Wines:


Plumeria Moscato $9.99

Rinaldi Moscato d’Asti $14.99


Jeio Bisol Prosecco Brut DOC $14.99  or 2 for $25!

Rebuli Prosecco Valdobbiadene  $17.99

Dry Sparkling-

Contratto Brut $29.99

Nomine Renard Brut $42.99


Rubus French White Blend  $9.99

Bornos Sauvignon Blanc $11.99

Chavy-Chouet Bourgogne Blanc $19.99


Montebuena Rioja $8.99

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau $12.99

Fess Parker Syrah $19.99

Chateau Pierre 1er Bordeaux $29.99

Wines are not available at all locations, if you would like for any of these or any other wine to be sent to your most convenient Big Red Liquors, please let me know!

Cin Cin!

Jill Pienta CSW, CSS

Wine Specialist |Big Red Liquors


5445 S. East Street

Indianapolis, IN 46227

“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”
― Rumi

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