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The Citizenry x Cakebread Cellars

The Holiday Wine Guide

This December, we're ready to set down those lists and shift our focus to meaningful celebrations, festive feasts, and tips to make it all come together a little more seamlessly. Rooted in sustainability and craftsmanship, we thought no better place to look than the team at Cakebread Cellars to guide us through everything entertaining this holiday season.

Tips To Serve Like A Sommelier

While adding wine to your hosting repertoire can feel like a Herculean undertaking, the trick to seamlessly fusing great wine into your events is simple: Avoid over-thinking it. These three sommelier-approved strategies will keep your holiday fêtes simple, stylish, and delicious without breaking the bank – or a single glass.

TIP 1: Temperature

Adopt The 15-Minute Rule

When served at the ideal temperature, wines are naturally more expressive – giving off a broader and more nuanced range of aromas and flavors, and enhancing the experience of each sip. And reaching the perfect temp is simple: When serving white wines, remove bottles from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to serving. For red wines, toss bottles into the fridge for 15 minutes before serving. Sparkling wines are the only exception to this rule – serve bubbly straight from the fridge or wine cooler.

Tip 2: Simplicity

Serve Simply

The right wines act as chameleons on the dinner table, deliciously highlighting the flavors in many dishes. That means there’s often no need to overcomplicate a holiday spread with many wines – a single red and white is enough to do the trick, especially with versatile bottles like Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Pinot Noir and Napa Valley Chardonnay, which are naturally suited to highlighting a wide range of flavors.

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Tip 3: Glassware

Embrace Functional Glassware

If possible, make space on the table so each guest can have a minimum of two wine glasses – one for white wines and one for reds. This ensures that the flavors from various wines won’t be competing in the glass and it allows guests to experiment with various pairings and dishes. Small, stemless glasses evoke a sense of casual relaxation – an ideal atmosphere for holiday parties and annual gatherings. Plus, it is more stable on bars, tables, and countertops which means fewer occasions for accidental spills and frustrating broken glass!

Selecting Wine

Wine is a universal symbol of celebration, making it de riguer at holiday celebrations and gift exchanges of all kinds. Our expert-approved techniques for buying wine work every time, so you can focus on savoring every drop of the season.

Your Wine Shopping Guide
Let ABV Be Your Guide
The printed alcohol by volume statement on wine labels is more than science: It’s a secret to understanding the wine inside the bottle. Lower-alcohol wines, like those below 10% ABV, are generally sweet on the palate – making them ideal pairings for spicy or salty fare and desserts – while higher ABVs indicate dry wines perfect for multi-course dinners or classic spreads.
Shop by Structure
Sommeliers and chefs often talk about the “structure” of a wine, which is an elevated way to describe how wine feels on the palate, ranging from rich like cream to featherweight. Acidity, tannin, and body are elements with the greatest impact on food pairing. When shopping for wines during the holiday season, it’s great to have an idea of the menu and structure of wine you enjoy – that way a salesperson can easily help you make the right selections for any gathering.
Drink what you love
It’s always more important to enjoy what’s on the table than to follow any sort of wine pairing “rule.” Similarly, if a friend or family member only enjoys a certain type of wine, it’s best to add that to the table – the best pairings enhance our communal experience even if they’re non-traditional.

Tips To Pair Like A Pro

Like the perfect blend of spices, pairing the right wines with the right dishes adds a delicious and sophisticated element to every bite, thoroughly enhancing the overall meal. During the holiday season, thoughtful wine pairings are a beautiful way to elevate holiday meals and create lasting memories.

Tip 1

Opposites Attract

Many fantastic wine pairings highlight the difference in flavor or texture of a dish, which is why pairing lightweight, refreshing wines with rich fare is a go-to strategy for many sommeliers. On holiday tables, this is as simple as pairing a vibrant Chardonnay with a rich cream sauce or pastry-centric appetizer like stuffed gougeres. The acidity of the wines naturally counteracts the richness of each bite, priming the palate for another sip while eliminating heaviness on the palate.


What Grows Together, Goes Together

Culinary traditions evolved in concert, with drinks and traditional dishes becoming natural counterparts. For instance, Italian red wines are naturally suited to classic pasta sauces and French wines likewise blend seamlessly with French cheeses. Using the same strategy to choose food and wine for the holiday table eliminates the guesswork – for dishes with a regional leaning, choose a wine from that same region or the flagship grape from the region.

Tip 3

Serve The Rainbow

All wines, regardless of color, contain the same elements: acidity, alcohol, and tannins. That means there’s a red, wine, and even rosé pairing for any imaginable course. When choosing the wines for your menu, a balance across the color spectrum is best. For example, a Sauvignon Blanc with a light fish or vegetable course followed by a rich Syrah with a hearty roast, and off-dry rosé with dessert provides a true sensory expedition. Plus, it gives guests the opportunity to discover a new favorite wine.

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