Expert Wine Pairings for Your Holiday Feast

Not sure what to drink with your roasted duck or seafood spread? Wine director at Brooklyn's Olmsted restaurant Zwann Grays can help.
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party drink pairings

Duck Dinner for 4

What to Drink

Duck is a dream for wine pairing because it’s red and juicy and rich, which is why fruit goes so well with it. With this menu, try Nebbiolo, an Italian red grape. Ask guests to bring their favorite wine made from the grape, whether that’s a Barolo, Barbaresco, or Valtellina, or a Nebbiolo from California.

What to Buy

Oddero Barolo 2015 (Italy)$33 This deep, slightly spicy wine will pair well with the duck but is balanced enough to also taste great with the spinach, the squash, and the celery root.

Prime Rib Dinner for 8

What to Drink 

When I think about roast beef, I think of home, so I’m going with an American Syrah. It’s fruity and fleshy and floral with violets and olives, but it’s also acidic enough to cut through the rich flavors in this menu. 

What to Buy 

Ghostwriter Syrah 2015 (California), $20 Winemaker Kenny Likitprakong used to be a skateboarder, but instead of going pro, he decided to study winemaking. I’m glad he did because this herby, smoky wine is one of the best American Syrahs I’ve had. 

J. Brix La Belle Rêveuse Syrah 2018 (California), $28 This small-production unfiltered wine is pretty light on its feet but is grounded by black-olive and dark-plum notes.

Seafood Dinner for 16

What to Drink 

For a party this big, I wouldn’t suggest just one grape. Where’s the fun in that? Instead, ask guests to bring a bottle of their favorite coastal white wine (Albariño or Cava) or sherry, which will pair perfectly with a seafood-centric spread. 

What to Buy 

Ciro Picariello Fiano di Avellino 2018 (Italy), $19 A wine with a briny salinity balanced by round fruity notes. Translation: It’s great with seafood! 

Castellroig Cava Brut Nature (Spain), $14 Toasty, salty, dry, and bubbly—and excellent paired with garlic bread. 

Viña Callejuela Manzanilla Fina (Spain), $16 Switch things up with a bottle of sherry! The clean, nutty flavors balance out the salty seafood.

How Much Should I Buy?

“It depends on how much your crowd likes to drink,” says Zwann Grays. “But, generally speaking, you should plan on 1 bottle per person. And I always buy a few more bottles for the cleanup crew and postdinner conversations.”

Not sure where to buy these wines? Check out our article on the best mobile apps for foodies featuring an app that helps you locate any wine you want.