Welcome to part three of our Holiday Food & Wine Pairing blog feature. After offering some general tips, and covering pairing wines with Holiday appetizers, we focus today on pairing traditional Holiday entrees with wines.

Wine Pairings with Holiday MealsThe “Main Course” … The highlight of the meal! Most wine pairing guides will focus on pairing your wine with the main dish but keep in mind that your side dishes can also enhance or battle the taste of your choice in wine. If wine is an important part of your meal, then treat the wine as another “dish” and plan it just like you would any side dish that is designed to compliment your main dish.

Loosen your belt a notch, scoot your chair in, and get ready for the highlight of the meal. And, of course, some great wines!

General Rules for Pairing Main Courses with Wines

  • We alluded to it above but if you have side dishes that are all over the flavor spectrum – some sweet, some sour, and some fatty, it will be almost impossible to find a wine that compliments your entire meal.
  • Main dishes often have a little more flexibility with respect to wine so you’ll often see the same dish show up with a couple of different wine recommendations.
  • If you are cooking a fattier poultry like duck or goose, treat it like a read meat, not traditional turkey. The meat will need at least a light or medium body red wine to stand up to the fat in the meat.
  • If a specific wine Varietal is a major ingredient in your meal, then it is probably a good wine to also serve with the meal.

Well Known Wines for Pairing with Main Courses

  • Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Be Adventurous & Try Something a Little More Unusual…

If you are tired of the same old wines and want to venture a little farther a field, substitute our suggested wine for the more well known Varietal and introduce your guests to a new experience.

  • Albarino for Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
  • Roussanne or Viognier for a traditional Chardonnay
  • Sangiovese or Dolcetto for Pinot Noir
  • Tempranillo or Barbera for Zinfandel
  • Nebbiolo or Aglianico for Cabernet Sauvignon

Suggested Main Course and Wine Pairings

For each other the highlighted wines, we’ve listed them separately with our suggestions of what kind of traditional main course item would pair well with them. If we’ve been lucky enough to find a recipe we think will pair well, we’ll link you to that as well. Get out your cook books and shopping list, because the options for this Holiday are about to expand!


Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris or Albarino

Recipes – Grilled Halibut

Recommended Wineries –


Traditional Chardonnay or Roussanne

Recipes – Herb Roasted Turkey

Recommended Wineries –


Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or Dolcetto

Recipes – Shrimp Scampi

Recommended Wineries –


Zinfandel, Tempranillo, or Barbera

Recipes – Roast Beef with Vegetables

Recommended Wineries –


Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, or Aglianico

Recipes – Leg of Lamb

Recommended Wineries –


Recommended Food Pairing Sites

There are multitudes of general food and wine pairing web sites.  Some are good and frankly, some really are quite useless.  The Internet doesn’t need one more so instead of recreating another generic food and wine paring site, we’ve provided links to a few that we think do a good job of guiding the user to the right pairing of wine and food.

Bon apetit! With this, you should be covered for the majority of your meal with great wine and food pairings. But don’t forget about the visitors with a sweet tooth. Our next wine and food pairing post will deal with wines that match well with the types of Holiday Desserts you’ll find this season. In the meantime, you can check out all of our Holiday wine and food pairing blog posts by clicking on our Wine Pairing Category. Do your homework, make sure you’re ready, and happy drinking!

Images via respective sites