12 recommended bottles for each holiday pair beautifully with feasts for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
AS FALL TRANSITIONS to winter, we enter the holiday season, that time of year when wine lovers are expected to provide guidance — and wine — for upcoming holiday feasts. I look at this as an opportunity to share wines I’ve tasted and collected throughout the year, and to share gems from the cellar.
Here are a dozen for each holiday.
Thanksgiving is among the most challenging feasts to pair wines with. There are so many complex and diverse flavors, it’s nearly impossible to match wines with all the dishes on the table. My strategy is to open a number of bottles, favoring wines with high acid profiles and lots of delicious flavors that finish memorably.
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Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9: The gold standard for dry, crisp rieslings, this delicious wine is the perfect accompaniment to the holiday feast.
King Estate 2016 pinot noir, Willamette Valley, $29: This longtime large Oregon producer punches way above its weight class with this suave red.
Owen Roe 2017 Ex Umbris syrah, Yakima Valley, $21: This Yakima Valley winery crafts a delicious and plump red with crowd-pleasing ripe flavors.
Domaine Ste. Michelle NV extra dry, Columbia Valley, $13: This off-dry sparkler is a crowd-pleaser and priced nicely for celebrations.
Dusted Valley 2014 cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $42: This longtime Walla Walla winery crafts a delicious and classic cab that should be enjoyed by anyone looking for ripe, broad-shouldered reds.
Kiona Vineyards 2017 Gewürztraminer, Red Mountain, $20: This spicy white is the perfect wine for roasted turkey, making it the most important wine on the table.
Thurston Wolfe 2015 Zephyr Ridge Vineyard zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills, $20: This longtime Prosser producer is one of the few dedicated to zin, and this is a gorgeous example loaded with black pepper, raspberry and black cherry.
Jones of Washington 2017 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $14: You’ll want a crisp, flavorful, pink, food-versatile wine on your table, and it’s hard to beat this one.
Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2016 Estate Cuvée grenache, Umpqua Valley, $27: This Rhone red is hard to beat in the crisp, red-fruit-driven department. A perfect foil for turkey and all the fixings.
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 merlot, Columbia Valley, $25: This classic Washington merlot from Walla Walla will fill the needs of guests looking for a big, bold red.
Westport Winery NV Rapture of the Deep, Washington, $29: Aberdeen winemaker Dana Roberts brings in cranberries from nearby Cranberry Coast for this sparkling delight that screams purity of fruit. It’s perfectly delightful for your Thanksgiving feast or simply for enjoyment on a warm weekend evening. Nothing says “Coast” like this wine.
Dunham Cellars 2014 syrah, Columbia Valley, $35: This big, plump, jammy, crowd-pleasing red will work well with roasted duck, turkey and other rich dishes.
The typical Christmas feast can go two directions: a roasted bird, like Thanksgiving, or roasted beef. If it’s the latter, you can rely heavily on bigger red wines.
DeLille Cellars 2015 D2 Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $45: This merlot-driven blend is a classic from this top Woodinville winery. Bold, dark fruit, impeccably balanced, perfect for Christmas dinner.
Kiona Vineyards 2016 Heart of the Hill Malbec, Red Mountain, $45: A delicious example of Red Mountain malbec from a top estate vineyard. I love the softer tannins and higher acidity. This red brings balance to your Christmas feast.
Domaine Ste. Michelle NV brut, Columbia Valley, $12: Sparkling wine is the ultimate food-friendly choice, perfect for a Christmas celebration, to start with or to finish.
Smasne Cellars 2017 Otis Vineyard albariño, Yakima Valley, $18: I’m falling in love with this Spanish white variety and the cool wines it’s making in the Northwest. With its great flavors and crisp acidity, this will serve you well during your holiday feast.
Jones of Washington 2016 pinot gris, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $14: Loaded with flavors of orchard and tropical fruit, and backed by bright, sleek acidity, this will be a great part of your meal.
Columbia Crest 2015 H3 merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: This midpriced tier for this winery invariably delivers the goods, thanks to superior fruit from the Horse Heaven Hills.
Abacela 2017 grenache rosé, Umpqua Valley, $18: I think a pink wine on your table is appropriate; it’s versatile and food-friendly and has wide appeal. This one from Oregon is among the best around.
Ambassador Wines of Washington 2017 sauvignon blanc, Yakima Valley, $25: This crisp, delicious, sleek white from a top Woodinville winery is perfect paired with shellfish or pasta. A very versatile food wine.
Barnard Griffin 2017 syrah port, Columbia Valley, $17: I’ve gotten into the habit of opening an old bottle of port at the end of Christmas, preferably with some smoky blue cheese from Rogue Creamery in Oregon. If you don’t want to invest in older ports, this is one of the most delicious fortified dessert wines made in Washington.
Browne Family Vineyards 2015 Tribute Red, Columbia Valley, $30: I’m a sucker for reds with big shoulders. This blend of petite sirah, petit verdot and malbec checks all the boxes for me.
Ginkgo Forest Winery 2012 petit verdot, Wahluke Slope, $30: This little-known winery near Mattawa is crafting delicious wines from estate grapes grown in the warm Wahluke Slope region. This is a big, round, ripe version of petit verdot that should be a hit with syrah lovers for its massive, yet still-jammy, midpalate.
Maryhill Winery2015 Proprietor’s Reserve sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $36: Gorgeous example of this Italian grape, with suave aromas of vanilla, spices and raspberry, followed by deep, intense flavors of bright red fruit, including black cherry, cranberry and red currants.
My strategy for New Year’s is simple: Most celebrations focus on appetizers and a happy crowd. So I go for affordable wines that are crowd-pleasers; of course, you need bubbles to toast the new year.
A to Z Wineworks NV Rosé Bubbles, Oregon, $18: One of Oregon’s largest wineries makes some delicious pink bubbles. A festive way to usher in a new calendar.
Drumheller 2016 cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12: This value brand from Ste. Michelle is priced to party, and it delivers well beyond the price tag.
Dunham Cellars 2015 riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: A Walla Walla winery better known for big reds crafts a crisp, delicious white, among the best you’ll find.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Harvest Select Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9: A big, rich white from Washington’s oldest, largest winery. This is a great match with curries and other spicy dishes. It’ll please the palates of everyone at your party.
Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Opulento Dessert Wine, Yakima Valley, $22: This fortified dessert wine from a top Woodinville winery is a perfect pairing with chocolate, blue cheese, cherry pie or crème brûlée.
Jones of Washington 2016 viognier, Wahluke Slope, $15: If there is a classic example of this Rhone white, this is it, thanks to round, creamy, luscious aromas of orange, vanilla and lime zest, followed by creamy mouth feel, backed with a surprising amount of acidity. It’s all about balance, and this has plenty.
Wind Rose Cellars 2013 primitivo, Yakima Valley, $25: Sequim winemaker Dave Volmut focuses on Italian varieties, and primitivo is thought to be a clone of zinfandel, increasing its popularity in Italy. This example reveals classic notes of ripe raspberry, Bing cherry and cranberry compote, all backed by racy acidity and spicy complexity.
Huston Vineyards 2016 malbec, Snake River Valley, $29: This malbec is fascinating to me, primarily because the vineyards of Southern Idaho are pretty high-elevation, just like those in Argentina. Loaded with dark, ripe fruit and black pepper, backed with classic mild tannins and firm acidity.
Water from Wine 2014 cabernet sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: This nonprofit winery in Paterson donates all proceeds to clean-water projects around the world.
Ste Chapelle 2015 Panoramic Idaho petite sirah, Snake River Valley, $28: My love for this variety is well-documented, and this version from Southern Idaho surprised me with its bold plum, cocoa and spice notes, backed by bold, yet approachable, tannins.
Barnard Griffin 2017 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12: This is the standard in the Northwest (perhaps the entire West Coast) for pink wine. It’s bone-dry, bursting with flavors of cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and cherry.
Amavi Cellars 2015 estate syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $33: This rich syrah is from a top winery from the southern end of the Walla Walla Valley. A perfect wine to launch 2019.