As you prepare to celebrate with friends or sit down with family this holiday season, it’s good to know what kind of wine to serve on the right occasion with the right meal, right? Deirdre Heekin, wine maker and author of An Unlikely Vineyard, is here to share some of her favorite wines along with food pairing suggestions. Her selections include a variety of wines that pair well with anything from shellfish to roasted root vegetables to a plate of aged cheeses, and more.
In her latest book, Heekin tells her unlikely story of growing wine in the hills of Vermont and her quest to express the essence of place in every bottle. Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times lists An Unlikely Vineyard as one of the best wine books of 2014. He writes, “I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression.”
The natural wines on this list succeed in this expression of terroir and capturing landscape in a bottle.
For the holidays, the desire for celebration is always front and center, so having a few different kinds of bubbly on hand makes those impromptu toasts or dinners easy. Sparkling wines are a little higher in acidity making them great companions for all kinds of dishes— anything from raw oysters to roasted root vegetables beneath a golden roast goose.
Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco– Italy
This family makes one thing, and one thing very well, an ancestral-style biodynamically farmed prosecco. It’s distinctive, real, and very well-priced.
Podere Saliceto L’Albone – Italy
If you want to surprise and cause a little bit of stir, the L’Albone is your number. It’s a dark and savory, dry red Lambrusco, great when paired with good, fatty cured meats and stuffed agnelotti pasta in broth.
Furlani – Italy
For a splurge, any of the Furlani wines will please. These are true alpine wines from high in the Dolomites. They make a very dry Brut Natur and a stunning sparkling rosé. These wines make me think of snow and sitting by the fire.
For whites, I look for wines with a lighter and intriguing offering that pair well with all kinds of appetizers and starters made from vegetables, smoked fish, shell fish, or salty cured meats.
Meinklang’s Somlo – Hungary
This wine is from northern Hungary. Biodynamically grown, this blend of four rather obscure Hungarian grapes, tells well the story of the landscape there.
Domaine Guillot-Broux – France
This medium-bodied Chardonnay is from one of the oldest certified organic vineyards in France. Elegant at the start of a meal, but also holds up to the main course, even that beef tenderloin.
Tanganelli’s Anatrino or Anatraso – Italy
These two wines come from vines more than 110 years old and their character is resplendent in a deep amber, or orange color. Because of the color, aroma, texture, and tannins these wines are the epitome of versatile, working effortlessly with oysters to aged cheeses.
The red wines that beckon to me during all these celebratory meals are ones that will not weigh me down. Since holiday food is often rich, I like a little counterpoint in the wine. My go-to bottles again exhibit that flexibility which allows them to go with so many different foods.
Montemelino Rosso – Italy
A cunning and silky blend of Sangiovese and Gamay, the wines from this tiny vineyard are naturally fermented and aged in old oak barrels that sleep under the farmhouse and in the little chapel on the property.
Paterna Rosso – Italy
Another medium-bodied to lighter red from outside Arezzo in Tuscany. The wine shimmers with flowers and fruit and a little earth and pairs well with vegetables, meat, and fish—think pork shoulder, or roasted trout.
San Fereolo Dolcetto – Italy
For a slightly brambly wine, though still very feminine, the biodynamically farmed San Fereolo Dolcetto always inspires me. Crushed cranberries, woodland fruit, slate and ink come to mind in winespeak, but the reality is the wine transports you to the edge of the forest. It makes me think of roast fowl, juniper, and clove, celebrations around the table, and raising glasses to the new year.