Uncork joy with this guide to the perfect holiday wines

celebratory wines FI
As we embrace the holiday season, exploring holiday wines becomes a delightful journey. These wines have long graced celebrations, adding a special touch to everything from bustling family get-togethers to serene, private gatherings. Incorporating a bottle or two of holiday wines is a customary way to amplify the cheer and sparkle of our festive moments.

Throughout history, wine has played a pivotal role in celebrations, embodying cultural traditions and symbolising joy. Ancient civilisations regarded it as a gift from the gods, while medieval Europe associated it with prosperity and hospitality.

Wine is not a one-size-fits-all; it is a personal and cultural expression. In this season of good cheer, some people enjoy a warm glass of mulled wine, while others prefer a perfectly chilled glass of bubbly. Thus, there are wines for every meal and every occasion. 

Choosing the right wine is not always easy, but have no fear. We’re here to elevate your ongoing festivities with helpful tips, tricks, and tidbits.

Sparkling Wines

Whether you enjoy the fruity bubbles of a Prosecco or the rich depths of a fine Champagne, sparkling wines are an excellent choice for any occasion & a timeless choice. From casually sipping with friends and family to pairing with appetisers, you have a wide range of delicious options to choose from.

For those who appreciate the more elegant style of classic Champagne, consider options like Moët & Chandon Brut or Veuve Clicquot Brut are fantastic choices. These Champagnes boast a sophisticated blend of flavours, with Moët offering a crisp and refreshing profile with notes of green apple, citrus and pear with hints of toast. Meanwhile, Veuve Clicquot presents a balance of toasty notes and vibrant acidity. Highlighting notes of ripe apple, citrus and brioche bread with fine bubbles that create a creamy texture on the palate. Both pair perfectly with the festive spirit of the Christmas season. 

If you’re looking for something more lighthearted and fun, consider trying Prosecco. Options like Mionetto Prosecco Brut or Cielo Prosecco Brut, paired with fresh fruits, offer a delightful blend of fruity and floral notes. Mionetto is a light, bright, and easy-drinking sparkling wine with pear, citrus, and green apple flavours and subtle floral hints. On the other hand, Cielo is gentle on the palate, delivering a burst of freshness with its zesty and fruity flavour profile.

Fun fact: A common misconception about sparkling wines is that they are only for the festive season, but that’s not true. Bubbly is meant to be enjoyed like all other wines – whenever, wherever.

Red Wines

red wines

Red wines are full of character, adding that extra special layer to your joyous gatherings. These wines are not only for pairing with meals, but there are also fantastic wines you can sip and share with others this season. Ensure they are served slightly below room temperature to unleash their full bouquet. Decanting can also enhance their flavours. Notable varieties are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, amongst many others, including blends of other grape varieties. 

Pinot Noir, with its light to medium body, is an effortlessly enjoyable and adaptable wine. It enhances all flavours without overpowering the taste buds. When paired with dishes like pounded yam and egusi, it beautifully balances the meal, adding a delightful touch.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, bold, and robust wine with firm tannins. The intensity of the wine allows it to match with hearty and flavourful dishes. Pairing suggestions: spicy and robust flavours like Jollof rice and rich, meaty dishes. 

Merlot is a wine that ranges from medium to full-bodied, characterised by its plush, velvety texture and gentle tannins. It is incredibly versatile and pairs well with most occasions. Pairing suggestions: it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a range of dishes from poultry or gamey dishes to even Jollof rice.

White Wines

celebratory white wines

White wines are a must this festive season, especially in a tropical climate like ours. Whether hanging out & chit-chatting with loved ones or eating a meal together, there is a white wine for every occasion. Serve chilled, but not too cold, to enhance their vibrant character. Notable varieties are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, amongst many others, including blends of other grape varieties. 

Rieslings thrive in cooler climates like Alsace and Germany with well-balanced temperatures. This allows it to showcase a variety of flavours, from dry to sweet. Therefore, it is highly adaptable and can pair with many dishes. A sweeter Riesling can be paired with a pepper soup or Jollof rice. 

Sauvignon Blanc, known for its crisp and fresh flavour profile, flourishes in moderate climate regions. The vibrant and characteristic herbaceous noted are showcased beautifully with wines from the Loire Valley in France and New Zealand with maritime influence. The climate also imparts zesty characteristics to the wines, making it an excellent pairing for soups and stews. 

Chardonnay is a complex yet versatile white wine that adapts well to various climates. The continental climate of Burgundy, France, plays a significant role in how the Chardonnay grape expresses itself. The influence of terroir on Chardonnay makes it a fantastic accompaniment to various dishes, from seafood to poultry and even creamy pasta.

Dessert Wines

wine cocktail

There is no better season to crack open a bottle of something sweet. Whether eating a fruit cake or a sticky, sweet cinnamon roll after your meal, consider indulging in a glass of Port, Sauternes or a glass of Moscato. 

Sweet wines often pair well with desserts because the flavours in the wine should enhance, balance, or contrast with the flavours in the food. This creates a more enjoyable and well-rounded experience.

Tip: You always want to make sure that the wine you are drinking is as sweet or sweeter than the dessert you are having so that the flavours are not overpowered.

Dessert cocktail ideas: 

Mulled Wine Dessert Wine Sangria Popsicles
Prep time: 5mins

Total time: 20mins

  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle red wine
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds, plus more for garnish
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 3-star anise
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brandy

Directions:

Step 1:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer, not a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes. 

Step 2:

  • Serve warm and garnish with more citrus slices and cinnamon sticks.
Prep time: 15mins

Total time: 15mins

  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle of dessert wine of choice
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 (3″) cinnamon stick

(all fruits in this recipe are optional)

Directions:

Step 1:

  • Mix wine, orange juice, brandy, and granulated sugar in a large pitcher. Stir in oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries, and cinnamon.

Step 2:

  • Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Prep time: 5 mins

Freeze time: 4hrs

  • 2 cups lemonade
  • 1 cup sweet white wine
  • Chopped berries optional

Directions:

Step 1:

  • Mix the lemonade with the wine (if using two kinds, then mix half the wine with each type of lemonade)

Step 2:

  • Add the berries to the popsicle mould.

Wine Gifting Guide

This holiday season, why not buy your wine-obsessed loved one something special. Choose a bottle that suits the recipient’s taste, whether a playful Prosecco or an age-worthy Bordeaux. Sometimes, the perfect wine gift goes beyond a bottle of their favourite; there are many items, budget-friendly and above you can spoil them with. 

Gift ideas:

  • Wine tasting experience: Arrange a private or public wine tasting experience for your loved one. This could include a virtual wine tasting session, a tasting session with a group or even a curated selection of wines for an at-home tasting. The Cellar Cru Club and The Wine Club Lagos offer some or all.
  • Wine Box Gifts: Explore festive wine boxes from places like The Cellar Cru Club, offering curated selections of 2, 3, or 6 wines. This provides a variety of flavours and presents the gift in an elegant and ready-to-gift package.
  • Wine accessories: Put together a custom kit to add a more personal touch. Include cork stoppers, wine openers, decanters, and wine glasses. This thoughtful bundle will surely enhance their overall wine-drinking experience.

The Christmas season is synonymous with feasts, laughter and creating memories with loved ones. Accordingly, wines should always be an integral part of your festivities: the fizz of Champagne, the richness of reds, the crispy freshness of whites and the sweetness of dessert wines, the abundance of flavours enhancing the entertainment and the spirit of sharing.

Further, similar to almost everything in life, wines and wine pairings are down to personal preference. The pairings above are merely a guide. Feel free to explore and enjoy if you prefer to drink a specific type of wine with your favourite meal. Finally, a special mention goes to rosé wines, as our weather always calls for a glass of rosé!

Cheers to a season filled with warmth, good company, and the magic of wine!

Happy holidays!

Author

  • Aniekan Udofia

    Aniekan Alexis Udofia, the CEO of The Cellar Cru, boasts a diverse background with an MBA and experience in social entrepreneurship, focusing on renewable energy, languages, Oil & Gas, and project management. She is a connoisseur in the wine industry. The Cellar Cru, her venture, operates as a wine & spirits retailer and hosts an exclusive “supper club” that provides a unique gastronomic experience. Guided by experts, TCC, initially Xis Wine Club, has grown to offer personalized wine tastings and menu curation, adapting to meet its customers' evolving tastes.

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