It’s safe to say that the holiday season might not look the same as it has in years past. And while you might have to socialize with your loved ones over Zoom as opposed to in person, one thing that doesn’t have to be missing from your dining room table is a top-notch bottle of your favorite wine to sip with the decadent dishes of the season.
Choosing the best holiday wines and coordinating wine pairings is the fun part. But with so many varietals to choose from, knowing which is most deserving of your palette during the holiday season can be tricky. And you deserve to be choosy AF after a year like this one. Hey, 2020 was no walk in the park, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass (or three) to toast to what will hopefully be a much brighter 2021.
To help you along the way, we’ve narrowed down the 30 best wines to enjoy during the holidays. Because no matter how you are celebrating this year, a good glass of wine makes the holidays even merrier.
Best Holiday Wines $20 and Under
Dough 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($19; wine.com)
This Napa-born Sauvignon Blanc is as rich and flavorful as it is diverse on the palate. It’s aromatic and well balanced, with notes of ripe peach, bright citrus, and a hint of minerals. The crisp and refreshing finish pairs well with all sorts of cheeses as well as lean poultry.
ButterCans ($20; jamcellars.com)
Wine that comes in cans is the new-new, and also makes the best stocking stuffer for the wine lover in your life. This pack of four, 250-mL cans (which translates to 1.5 glasses each) is their best-selling variety. The creamy Chardonnay has aromas of apple pie and pairs well with cheese, chocolate, you name it.
McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($14; wine.com)
This estate-grown, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon has that dark, desirable garnet hue and hint of smoke balanced by berry-forward notes of blueberry, blackberry, and black cherry. Most of the fruit (over three quarters) for this wine came from Lodi, with the remainder from sustainable vineyards within the Valley.
Kendall-Jackson 2018 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay ($17; wine.com)
There’s a good reason this has been America’s top-selling Chardonnay for close to three decades. It has everything Chardonnay lovers are looking for—full, rich flavor with fruit-forward notes of tropical pineapple and papaya. Oh, and it goes splendidly with just about anything, from cheese during apps to chicken and seafood during dinner.
2019 Champbeaux Grande Réserve Marselan ($11; wineinsiders.com)
Hailing from the rocky coast of the Languedoc region in France, this wine features both Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which create a deep and complex flavor on the palette. Expect notes of blackberry, cassis, and black pepper spice.
Castello Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio Toscana ($18; banfiwines.com)
This wine makes a great hostess gift because it tastes expensive without the wallet-busting price tag. Made from estate grapes grown in Montalcino, its vibrant flavors include peach, pear, anise, and honey, so you know it’s going to go down smooth. Super fresh with a soft finish, it pairs well with a myriad of different culinary offerings.
Vine to Glass Organic Red Blend ($15; bevmo.com)
Want to enjoy a hearty glass of red without the headache the following day? Try this USDA certified organic Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It is free of sulfites and has a wonderful natural acidity, as well as that ripe juiciness you desire in a red blend. It’s also at a reasonable price so you can buy more than just one bottle without feeling your pockets shrink.
Mondoro Asti Spumante ($16; totalwine.com)
Made from D.O.C.G.-level White Moscato grapes and sourced from the Langhe hills of Piedmont, this bottle of bubbly is everything you need to enjoy meals over Zoom this holiday season. Light and refreshing, it features herbal aromatics with tart, fruity notes like green apple, grapefruit, and pear. Sip it with both sweet and savory servings.
2018 Rosé the Day ($20; theday.wine)
Looking to purchase wine with purpose? Look no further than this wonderful, San Francisco-born winery that donates 10 percent of their profit to organizations that support women’s health (Planned Parenthood) and alleviate farmworker poverty. They also make a killer rosé. It’s dry and vibrant with aromas of green apple, honeysuckle, grapefruit, strawberry, and a cool minerality on the finish.
Oak Ridge Winery 2018 Old Soul Cabernet Sauvignon ($13; totalwine.com)
This sophisticated cab is a steal with a flavor that feels much more expensive than it is. With rich notes of black cherry, licorice, and black pepper all wrapped together with a touch of vanilla and smokiness, this wine is the perfect complement to a holiday feast (though it is especially nice with grilled meats).
“Flying by the Seat of Our Pants” Brut ($45; bricoleurvineyards.com)
As the name suggests, this bottle of bubbly won’t disappoint. It’s full, ripe, and boasts an intriguing burst of citrus blossom and light berry. It’s rich but refreshing on the palate, with multi-layer finishes that pair well with just about anything you’re serving for the holidays.
Bev Glitz ($59 for 8-pack; drinkbev.com)
This female-founded canned wine brand is giving you something worth celebrating—their limited edition Glitz Sparkling White Wine, which comes in an 8- or a 24-pack. It’s on the healthier side of things (for wines, at least) with zero grams of sugar but still 11.9 percent ABV per can.
Best Holiday Wines $50 and Under
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio ($24; drizly.com)
Looking for the perfect pinot grigio to pair with your go-to holiday appetizers? You’ve met your match. With a clean and intense flavor, this pinot appeals to just about anyone (fun fact: it’s said to be Kris Jenner’s fave). Featuring notes of apples and citrus, it has a bright aroma, delightfully dry taste, and multi-layered finish.
Wölffer Estate Diosa Late Harvest 2018 ($37; store.wolffer.com)
Bring the White Horse to the party with this wine that embodies the strong heritage and top-notch quality of the famed Wölffer Estate. It’s a beautiful, sweet ice-wine that pairs perfectly with dessert, from pies to pastries. It is definitely fruit-forward, with honey and floral notes, and has scored a 92-point rating from Robert Parker Wine Advocate.
Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel ($25; winedeals.com)
If you want to bring a solid red wine to your family’s holiday celebration, you can’t go wrong with this fresh, floral zinfandel that’s bursting with flavor. It features notes of red plum, cedar, tobacco, and super-ripe red cherry with silky tannins that go easy on the palette. It’s the perfect wine to drink with a hearty turkey or roast.
CA Brut Sparkling Wine Gold Shimmer Etched Edition ($49; onehopewine.com)
New for the 2020 holiday season, ONEHOPE Wine launched super festive shimmer bottles that are etched with fun holiday phrases. They make great gifts, and the wine inside is also delicious. Their California Sparkling Wine is fruit-forward, featuring notes of succulent peach, sweet berries and pear.
2018 Edaphos Petite Arvine Alder Springs ($45; argaux.com)
Made from 100-percent Petite Arvine grapes (which is very rare to California), this unique white gold-hued wine features zesty notes of chamomile, jasmine, dried apricots, and apple chips. It is made using organic and biodynamic farming practices and only 200 cases are produced total.
Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2016 ($32; vintus.com)
This wine is a best seller for the line and sold in more than 50 countries, which says quite a bit about its high acclaim. It is 100 percent Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and comes from eight of the estate’s top parcels. With aromatic notes of mint and fresh thyme at the top combined with hints of underbrush, red fruits, olive tapenade, grilled herbs, aniseed, and dark chocolate, it has a deep, full-bodied finish.
2017 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah ($47; stagsleap.com)
If you have an avid wine lover in your family, they will be impressed by your wine selection when you show up to the dinner table with a bottle of Stags’ Leap Winery’s 2017 Napa Valley Petite Sirah, which is the wine this historic Napa Valley winery is known for. It’s vibrant and expressive with notes of blackberry, blueberry, and black cherry fruits interwoven alongside more savory herbal notes of white pepper, earthy loam, and crushed rock mineral notes.
Domaine De L’Envol – Crémant D’Alsace Brut 2018 ($25; mysa.wine.com)
This wine is made champagne-style and has a unique flavor profile that was made for celebrations such as the holiday season. The blend includes a variety of white grapes, including Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc, and spends one full year in the tank before bottling. Super refreshing and easy to dip, it’s the perfect party wine.
Banfi ASKA Bolgheri Rosso DOC ($35; banfiwines.com)
Cab enthusiasts will go crazy for this wine, which is aged in oak barrels using Cabernet grapes from the Tuscan coast. The resulting flavor is a bouquet of red berries, blueberries, and plum jam followed by smoky hints of tobacco and licorice. Uncork this baby while you’re enjoying a fancy charcuterie.
Château Malescasse Haut-Médoc ($29; vivino.com)
This Bordeaux estate was recently awarded a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel classification (translation: for the price, you’re getting a steal). It’s full-bodied and features notes of blackberry and mint, which means it will go perfectly with whatever you’re serving on your holiday table.
Avaline Red ($24; drinkavaline.com)
Founded by Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power comes this delicious wine that’s clean, vegan, and made with organic grapes. Though it was originally scheduled for a later release, it was released early in response to popular demand. It’s a light to medium-bodied red, with bright red fruit and delicate aromas balanced by the perfect touch of spice.
2019 Super Geisha, Pét-Nat Sparkling Wine, El Dorado County ($36; tankgaragewinery.com)
This 1930s era gas station-turned-winery in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga has a give-back initiative called Tank Cares—for every product sold, they donate a portion of the profits towards a charitable cause they’re passionate about. As for the wine itself? Well, it’s delicious. It opens with aromatic floral and bright citrus notes, combined with some hints of spice and fresh herbs, all brought to life in your mouth by delicate bubbles.
Ferrari Brut NV, Trentodoc ($27; ferraritrento.com)
When you pop a bottle of this, you unleash the great history of Ferrari, the original sparkling wine made from the first Chardonnay grapes planted in the Trentino mountains by Giulio Ferrari in 1902. It is bright and bold with notes of golden apple and citrus fruits.
Taste the Blues ($50 for 4 bottles; keelfarms.com)
Have you ever tried blueberry wine? If not, here’s some incentive to try it. This wine is shockingly good, not syrupy or cloying in the slightest. The purchase of the “Taste” comes with four full bottles featuring blueberry in all its flavors: Dry Blueberry, Semi-Dry Blueberry, Sweet Blueberry and Gulfcoast Blueberry. They all pair well with nuts, exotic cheeses, dark fruits, smoked meats, and steak.
Best Splurge-Worthy Holiday Wines
2016 Reserve Red Blend Napa Valley ($100; mtveeder.com)
If you’ve been saving up for a super-impressive holiday wine, give this award-winning red blend a try. You’ll truly be able to taste the difference in its intense flavors. Made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon (88 percent) with a hint of Malbec (10 perence) and Petit Verdot (2 percent), it has a deep ruby color and a rich, full palette that includes ripe blackberry, dark cherry, white pepper, cardamom, sandalwood, and rosemary. It’s perfectly balanced and pairs well with red meat, ahi tuna, and any type of cheese.
Villa Gemma Montepulciano 2015 ($90; vintus.com)
This wine does an admirable job of showcasing what the Abruzzo grapes can produce. It’s won 14 Tre Biccieri awards (in a row), which is also a testament to its complex character and high quality. It is made from 100 percent Montepulciano grapes that have been meticulously hand-picked in boxes from the second half of October in the Cave vineyard, in San Martino sulla Marrucina. After fermentation in steel, the wine further refines in French oak barrels. A delightfully complex wine, its notes include red fruit, cherry, currant, violet, and hints of tobacco.
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino ($80; banfiwines.com)
If you’re looking for a high-quality wine that will mentally transport you to the rolling southern hills of Italy, let it be this pick. It’s made using a meticulous grape selection method followed by vinification with skin contact for 10-12 days. After five years, it’s released after harvest and aged for a minimum of 4 years, including 2 in oak barrels. You’ll enjoy its robust character, featuring aromatic wood, berries, light vanilla, and jam, smooth finish, and mouthwatering aftertaste.
Joseph Phelps 2017 Insignia ($300; josephphelps.com)
If you consider wine to be a true gift, then buy yourself a bottle of this premium Napa red blend, which is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a touch of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It spends a whole 24-month period aging in 100-percent new French oak from Coopers Taransaud, Dargaud Jaegle, Demptos, Marcel Cadet, and Sylvain. It’s the rarest offering of Insignia in 20 years, and features notes of mocha, cedar, roasted espresso, blueberry and ripe plum.
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