There are many stressful elements of the holiday season, but one decision that can sneak up on you is what bottle to bring to the multitude of holiday parties you’ll likely be attending this winter. Rather than wait until the last minute, grab whatever you happen to have laying around, and hope for the best, why not take some advice from the pros? We asked sommeliers across the country what bottle they’re bringing to their own lineup of holiday parties; here’s what they recommended.
The Best Wines for Holiday Parties, According to Sommeliers
- Large-format sparkling wine
- Old Rhône Valley Syrah
- Tenuta Foresto Frizzante
- Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles ‘Voulez-Vouz Gamay Avec Moi’
- Raventós i Blanc de Nit Brut Rosé
- 2010 Château Léoville Poyferré from St Julien, Bordeaux
- Il Mostro Longana Rosato Frizzante
- Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
- Cru Beaujolais
- Division Gamay Lutte
“I want to bring an obnoxiously large bottle of sparkling wine to the party — a great experience with a delicious wine. Champagne would be my first choice, and most wine shops have a small but consistent selection of large formats.” —Richard Hanauer, partner and wine director, RPM Restaurants (Miami)
“Old Syrah from the Northern Rhône. The wines of the Northern Rhône are cozy, powerful, and, with a little age, magical. The wines are perfect for the roasts on a dinner table or for an after-dinner drink around the fire. Thierry Allemand and Jamet are my go-to producers from the Rhône.” —Arjav Ezekiel, co-owner & wine director, Birdie’s, Austin, Texas
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“I love to have bubbles around the holidays, so I’m bringing a light, fresh, fun pét-nat that everyone will love. Something like the Tenuta Foresto Frizzante, which is made from poppy red fruits and has a soft bubble to keep the energy alive and festive. Pét-nats come in a huge range of styles and flavor profiles, so it’s easy to find something everyone will love.” —Paul Lysek, service manager, Safta, Denver
“All can be summed up by what this wine is called. Voulez-Vouz Gamay Avec Moi means, ‘Do you want to Gamay with me?’ How fantastic is that name? This wine is from the Tridon family who has been making wine here since the 1930s. It is an absolutely delicious Gamay from the Loire Valley. It has a little bit of something for everyone, it’s light, and when served a bit cool, it is so refreshing. You won’t get an overly fruity Gamay; with this cool-climate wine you get tons of crunchy blueberries, plum skin, [and] freshly turned soil. It also can be enjoyed with so many different dishes or very simply by itself.” —Samantha Germani, director of food and beverage, The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia
“I’m bringing Raventós i Blanc de Nit Brut Rosé, a phenomenal sparkling wine from Spain’s Penedes region. Raventós makes some of the best sparkling wines on Earth, and this is no exception. The only problem with this wine is that it tends to go quickly, so my only solution is to bring two bottles.” —Rick Arline, director of wine, Hotel Per La, Los Angeles
“It really depends on the type of holiday party. If I am going to a holiday party where I know there will be some delicious food, I am likely going to bring a bottle with some age that I know everyone will enjoy, like 2010 Château Léoville Poyferré from Saint-Julien, Bordeaux. Timeless, delicious, and perfect for the cooler months of the year, open the bottle at the start of the meal and hope there is some by the end.” —Luke Sullivan, sommelier, Eleven Madison Park, NYC
“My favorite wine to bring to all celebrations is Il Mostro Longana Rosato Frizzante. It’s a super-fun pét-nat made from 100 percent Montepulciano with floral and spiced notes on the nose and big red berries coming through as you sip. The label is delightfully whimsical, featuring a drawing of an Ichthyocentaur, which is a mythical creature with a human torso, legs of a horse, and a tail of a fish or mermaid — always a fun conversation starter!” —Liz Ramirez, bar manager, Crossroads Hotel, Kansas City, Mo.
“As a rule, I always bring at least one bottle of bubbles. If it’s a group that appreciates high-end Champagne, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is [a] personal favorite. It’s hard to pick just one bottle of bubbles; I love them ALL! It’s perfect for all parties and celebrations — easy drinking, lighter alcohol content. And honestly, it starts the evening with the perfect atmosphere!” —Kimber Stonehouse, director of beverage purchasing & analytics, Prime Steak Concepts
“In Napa, you can’t go wrong with Champagne for holiday parties, Tuesday nights, lunch dates, and general recreation. Seriously — this town loves to hear real Champagne pop!” —Matt Stamp, sommelier & founder, Compline Restaurant and Wine Shop, Napa, Calif.
“I’m bringing cru Beaujolais. With the colder weather and holiday table fare, an earthy red wine that goes with a wide variety of dishes is just the ticket. I’m partial to a nice Morgon, which has excellent depth and body without being too overpowering for the holiday table.” —Francis Kulaga, certified sommelier & beverage director, Birch & Rye, San Francisco
“I share an allocation of Bedrock Wine Co. with a close friend, and I have trouble stopping myself from purchasing wine each and every time there’s an offer. As a result, my cellar is almost one-third Bedrock wines. The holidays are a great chance to break these bad boys out. Partly because they’re delicious and hearty — great for the season and the foods on offer — and also partly because I’m a Zinfandel evangelical. Expect me to come to your house preaching the good word about our lord and savior, Zin.” —Jamie Harrison Rubin, certified sommelier & consultant, Kid Stuff Hospitality, Philadelphia
“I typically abide by the ABCs — Always Bring Champagne — but for holiday parties when everyone is bringing bubbles and big reds, I prefer to slow-sip and enjoy good conversation. Solution? I find myself reaching for a tart, spicy, silky, light-bodied red. Kate Norris and Tom Monroe’s Division Gamay ‘Lutte’ from Willamette is a favorite when I’m feeling homesick — it smells and tastes like springtime New England strawberries and horse barns.” —Danya Degen, director of wine & operations, The Duck & The Peach, La Collina and The Wells, Washington, D.C.