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Eleven Local Wines to Help You Survive This Holiday Season—And What to Eat With Them

From shrimp cocktail to chocolate desserts, here's what to drink with this year's feasts. 


The holidays are here and that means it’s time to eat, drink, and, given everything bad that’s been happening lately, drink some more! (We’ll save the merry for another year.) It also means your schedule is probably packed full of parties, dinners and desserts. Here are 11 wines to pair with your culinary Long March through the month of December.


Eat: Beef Stew
Drink: Stewart Cellars Tartan Red Blend ($40)
This cabernet/merlot blend features holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and bold flavors of fig and dried plum—all of which will dance as well with beef, carrots, and celery as the Sugar Plum Fairies.

Eat: Rack of Lamb
Drink: Wonderment Petite Sirah ($45)
Petite sirah is a hip wine that is still flies under the radar. So wow your friends with your wine hipness. This particular bottle is robustly meaty, making it an ideal complement for more gamey meats like lamb. If you want to have more fun, open a bottle while you cook. Everything tastes good after that.

Eat: Rib Roast or Steak
Drink: Ladera Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
A big yet elegant wine that highlights the intensity and acidity of mountain fruit grown at 1,800 feet, Ladera’s cabernet pairs beautifully with steak or roasts. Its smooth texture and complex array of flavors, ranging from dark chocolate to toasty vanilla, play well with herb rubs as well as peppery, tangy, or sweet sauces.

Eat: Pork Loin
Drink: 2014 Ram’s Gate Syrah, Parmelee-Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($62)
This rich, earthy wine is as natural match for pork as Kermit is for Miss Piggy.

Eat: Chocolate and caramel desserts
Drink: Cooper & Thief Red Blend ($24.99)
This savory blend has a touch of sweetness and features flavors of blueberry jam with hints of caramel and vanilla. Good news—it's versatile! Pair it with dark or milk chocolate and its fruit notes will tone down their overall sweetness. On the other hand, the sweetness of caramel or white chocolate will accentuate the vanilla and caramel notes in the wine.


Eat: Holiday Leftovers (Especially Sandwiches)
Drink: Butter Chardonnay ($15.99)
Butter Chardonnay is creamy and rich, and ends with a long kiss of vanilla. (With a name like Butter, what did you expect?) Best served chilled, this wine will add plenty of juicy flavor to even the driest of leftovers.

Eat: Shrimp Cocktail
Drink: Ramey Cellars “Sidebar” Kerner ($25)
The Kerner grape is an uncommon in California, but being rare makes it very cool. Floral and clean, with some of the richness you might expect of a chardonnay, this wine is crisp and acidic and naturally pairs with the sea flavors and sweet spice of shrimp cocktail.

Eat: Dungeness Crab
Drink: Trefethen Dry Riesling ($26)
Trefethen Dry Riesling is a favorite among Napa Valley locals for its versatility and crisp and lightly citrusy flavor. Its bright notes and minerality nicely contrast the salty richness ofthe Pacific coast's most perfect food: Dungeness crab.

Eat: Baked Ham
Drink: Trinchero Napa Valley Mary’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($35)
Close your eyes when you sip this sauvignon blanc and you might think you’re having a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Fruit forward but not sweet, it has flavors of ripe mango that mingle with pineapple and ocean minerals.

Eat: Caesar Salad
Drink: 2014 Donelan Nancie Chardonnay ($48) 
A blend of grapes grown from all over Sonoma County, this chard is full of flavor and acidity, which will bring out the crispness of romaine lettuce, the creaminess of the Caesar dressing, and cut the salt of the sardines. Now if only all of your guests could play this well with others.  

Eat: Roast Turkey
Drink: Frank Family 2012 Rouge ($55)
Full of fruit, this sparkling wine has flavors of tart berries, citrus, and vanilla. These bubbles would be a hit if you were to serve them before the meal, but would also make a dry turkey taste moist. How's that for pulling double duty? 


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