Wine Blog

Wine Tips for the Christmas Dinner

So this is Christmas…we are almost there. For me, being in Sweden now, it is all happening today at Christmas Eve, so we are soon prepared to head off to drink some mulled wine with friends and thereafter having dinner all together. However, just before starting to enjoy all the Christmas food and wine, I wanted to share some wine tips with you for the holidays. As I am mostly focused on Italian wine, this will be some tips about wines from Italy that pair well with the food and desserts we are all having during this holiday season. Thus, I hope you will enjoy my tips. Even if you might not be able to find all of these wines in your hometown, at least, you can surely find something similar.

Wine Tips for Christmas

Here I will give some few examples of wines that we have discussed, for example, in the last #WinesOfItaly blabs. As I am in Sweden celebrating Christmas, we will have a lot of different sorts of herring and salmon as well as meatballs, ham and sausages.



This is a quite oily fish and needs an acidic wine, such as:

  • Sauvignon Blanc – or why not a Collio Sauvignon from Friuli Venezia Giulia.
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano – the Sauvignon might be a better choice, however also the Vernaccia I would say fits together with herring. And why not choose a Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Panizzi.
  • Pinot Grigio – also a Pinot Grigio from, for example, Collio in Friuli Venezia Giulia or from Alto Adige pairs well.
  • Vodka snaps (shots) – this would be the Scandinavian perfect pairing. LOL


The salmon is also quite oily and it can, for example, be marinated or smoked. Thus, it also needs a fairly acidic but yet smooth wine. The white wines mentioned above can work well, as well as the following:

  • Riesling from Alsace, or why not from Alto Adige. The small winery Kuenhof produces a very nice Riesling.
  • Alto Adige Traminer – this aromatic white wine pairs well with smoked salmon.
  • Vernaccia di Oristano – a young Vernaccia di Oristano from Sardinia can be good with salmon.
  • Salice Salentino – also this white wine from the region Puglia is a good combination with salmon.
  • Franciacorta Millesimato – why not pair all the herring and salmon starters with a Franciacorta or Champagne of your own choice. One of my favourite producers of Franciacorta is Mosnel, try it out! That way you can never go wrong.

The Christmas Ham

There are many kinds of food you eat at the Christmas dinner, depending on where you are from, so I will list a couple of red wines that can go well with meat in general. This year I have brought a Chianti Classico Sagrona DOCG 2012 with me to Sweden for our dinner, as it should work well with cold cuts, ham, meatballs, sausages, etc. However, I would also recommend, for example, a Chianti Classico from Val delle Corti.

  • Pinot Nero or a Lagrein from Alto Adige could go well too. My favourite for the moment is from a small winery, Ferruccio Carlotto.
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can also be paired with any of these meat dishes. Here I could recommend one from Emidio Pepe that you can read more about in my article Un Montepulciano d’Abruzzo branded Emidio Pepe.
  • Rosso or Nobile di Montepulciano is another wine that in general is a good combination with Christmas food. The Valdipiatta DOCG or Bindella DOCG are two labels that I can recommend.
  • Aglianico delle Vulture from the region Basilicata is another good choice for the Christmas dinners. An interesting Aglianico is Titolo from the wine producer Elena Fucci.



As the main dessert, at least in the south of Sweden, we eat Ris à la Malta which is a dessert with Danish origin from the 19th century. The dessert probably has some half-French origin as the name in Denmark is Ris à l’amande (rice with almonds). The game at the dinner table used to be that the person finding the almond in the rice dessert on his/her plate would be married within the following year. This dessert can be paired with Brachetto d’Acqui or Moscato d’Asti. However, at the end of the dinner, I like to sip on a glass of Porto Ruby or why not a Marsala from Marco De Bartoli.


Merry Christmas to you all!

Written by Katarina Andersson.

Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

10 thoughts on “Wine Tips for the Christmas Dinner”

  1. Lovely list of wines that compliment a variety of dishes, Katarina. Although I personally am not a fish lover, it sounds like those who like herring or salmon have a lot of great choices to pair with their food. Desert sounds like a fun way to top of the meal! Happy Holidays and here’s to a flavourful 2016!

    • Normally with mulled wine, I put a red wine, not with too strong aromas but a quite neutral red wine, in a pot. Then I add orange peels, whole cinnamon, ginger, raisins, a couple of cups of sugar (test yourself, it depends on how sweet you want it to be etc.)…and you let it cook up and then keep it on lower heat, almost slow cooking, for an hour or so…

  2. Great suggestions! I’m mostly vegetarian and stick to sweet, fruity white wines, but I enjoyed reading about pairing what wines with what foods and why. After a big meal, I like a dessert wine because it doesn’t pile on my heavy tummy and provides just that little bit of sweet that I crave after dinner!


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