Tips and tricks for serving wine with holiday meals

(BPT) - The holidays are fast approaching, as are lots of festive meals to plan, prepare and serve. How can you reduce your own stress, and guarantee that you’ll have happy guests throughout the holidays? A few simple tips for choosing versatile wines — and how to serve them — will not only please everyone, but will make everything about your get-togethers easier and more fun. Pairing delicious wines to serve along with your meals does not have to be complicated.

Here are a few tips to help you choose and serve wine for a successful holiday party or dinner.

Keep it simple

Choose just one good red wine and one good white wine varietal to serve during your cocktail or dinner party, if you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed. You could choose another varietal or two for guests to sample, if you're feeling adventurous, but having two contrasting options is a great start, and sometimes all you need.

Since holiday meals can be heavy (or at least plentiful!), choose wines that are not overly rich or full-bodied. Instead, look for lighter wines that are fruity and bright, with soft tannins, that provide a nice complement to a big, rich meal. For example, Sanford Winery offers popular options in both chardonnay and pinot noir that can be a perfect duo to serve your guests.

Offering a refreshing fruit and cheese plate after dinner gives guests the chance to savor the last sips of wine before dessert and coffee are served. Don't let the "rules" of pairing wine and food throw you off — keep both a red wine and a white wine on the table and let guests experiment for themselves and decide what they prefer!

Wine serving tricks

Since the temperature of the room and your guests’ hands will warm the wine glasses throughout the meal, it's a good idea to chill both red and white wines for a while before serving.

Create fun, holiday-themed DIY wine charms for each guest, especially if you’re serving buffet-style or enjoying a cocktail hour before dinner. Check your local craft store or websites like Pinterest for fun ideas.

Each 750 ML bottle contains approximately 5 glasses of wine, so plan your wine supply accordingly.

Only fill each guest's glass one-half to two-thirds full, to give the wine room to breathe.

Wine left in the bottle? Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays, then you'll have ready-to-use "wine ice cubes" for recipes that require cooking with wine another day or a flavorful option to chill down your next glass of wine without diluting it.

Let wine do double duty

Optimize and harmonize flavors by cooking a dish that incorporates the same varietal of wine your guests will be drinking.

For example, a recipe for Citrus and Garlic Roasted Turkey uses pinot noir to create a sweet and tangy sauce along with fresh cranberries, rhubarb and tangerines. Visit sanfordwinery.com/recipe/citrus-and-garlic-roasted-turkey for the full recipe.

Whether you're using a red wine or white wine in your cooking, don't opt for an inferior "cooking wine," but use the same quality wine you plan to serve during the meal. Because the alcohol cooks out of the food you're preparing, what's left is the flavor of the wine — and that will make a big difference to the flavor of your finished dish.

Holiday entertaining does not have to be overly complicated. Going for flavors you enjoy and offering your guests a few options in terms of food and wine will result in a successful meal or party, every time. What really counts is relaxing and enjoying the meal and the wine together.

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