Throughout our more than three decades of making distinctive Napa Valley wines, we’ve hosted our fair share of holiday dinners. We’ve had the pleasure of working with, and at times hosting, some truly great chefs and wine professionals, and in the expert hands of our Executive Chef Trevor Eliason, our own culinary program has evolved and expanded.
Over the years, we’ve learned that finding those almost transcendent food and wine matches can be exhilarating – yet, for many, it can also be extremely intimidating. As the holiday entertaining season reaches its peak, we’d like to help take the pressure off, with a few of the best wine and dinner pairing tips we’ve learned along the way.
Holiday entertaining is hard enough, without breaking out Julia Child’s three-page recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon. In truth, a complicated list of ingredients can often result in a complicated set of flavors with which to pair your wine. After more than 30 years of entertaining, we’ve found that broiled lobster tail, lightly brushed with herbed butter, is still one of the loveliest complements to our Napa Valley Chardonnay. And it takes less than 15 minutes to cook!
If you want to highlight truly special wines, plan the menu around the wine, rather than vice versa. Obviously, that’s our typical modus operandi when we host dinners at our Oakville wineries. We want our menu not to just to pair well with our wines, but to elevate them. Sometimes, though, we don’t have weeks to plan, prep and taste in advance. So, a basic pairing cheat sheet never hurts. We’ve shared some favorite no-fail pairings below. But, first…
There’s a whole category of fortified and late-harvest wines, each of which make a delicious dessert all on their own, provide a sweet contrast to an end of meal cheese course, and harmonize beautifully with a variety of desserts. Just remember to keep the dessert less sweet than the wine.
For Fresh White Fish, Rich Shellfish, or Smoked Salmon Wine Pairing…
A well-made Chardonnayhas the textural richness to cut through shellfish dishes, and the delicate minerality to complement an array of holiday appetizers, like thinly sliced Smoked Salmon Canapes or Crab Salad on Brioche.
The bright acidity, ripe berry tones and fruit-floral aromatics of great Pinot Noir, like those from our sister winery in the Russian River Valley, can be a compelling match for medium-weight mains like crispy-skinned Holiday Duck or Pork Tenderloin.For Porterhouse, Prime Rib, Filet Mignon or ANY GREAT CUT OF BEEF…
The body, structure and broad bold flavors ofCabernet Sauvignonmake it our favorite accompaniment to holiday Prime Rib or a pan-seared New York Steak. There’s just something extraordinary about the interplay between beef’s complex proteins and fat and the dark fruit and tannins in a great Napa Valley Cabernet.
We love pairing the honeyed notes and refreshing acidity of late-harvest wine with traditional Flans and Custards,Vanilla Poached Pears, and Pumpkin Pie. Occasionally, we’ll skip dessert and go straight to the cheese board. A salty Bleu d’Auvergne, a drizzle of honey and a wine evocative of citrus blossom, apricot and clove… Is it time for dessert yet?
Whether you're watching the ball drop IRL, throwing it back with a Roaring 20s-themed soiree, keeping it cozy with a quiet dinner party for friends or breaking out the board games and staying in, these four festive late harvest Dolce recipes will up the enchantment of your New Year's Eve toasts, however you decide to celebrate. Inspired by cocktails we've served at Napa Valley winery events throughout the years, these aren't your average wine cocktails! Try your hand at one, or go all out and create a full Dolce Cocktail Bar. If there's ever a time to go extra festive on the sips, it's New Year's.LEARN MORE
Are you ready for the chicken soup and Chardonnay pairing our winemaker can’t get enough of?
Far Niente Winemaker Nicole Marchesi recently had our mouths watering with her recommendation for homemade chicken soup and Chardonnay, specifically Far Niente’s Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Ready to whip up a batch of the chicken soup and wine pairing that had her sighing with comfort? Read on for her garden-fresh chicken and soba noodle minestrone recipe. It's a knockout with Napa Valley Chardonnay.LEARN MORE
This Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes is a dreamy recipe to cook with your favorite culinary partner in crime. Inspired by the golden blooms of mustard sprouting up between our vineyard rows, we encased the tenderloin with toasted mustard seed to give it a Napa Valley twist. Slice it thin; top with our classic red wine shallot sauce.LEARN MORE