A wine pairing guide — for the special situations one might find oneself in over the holidays
We even have the red to sip at the work party you're trying so hard to ghost.
The holidays are barreling down upon us like a hurricane of joy! It's a confusing time... A time to be happy. A time to over-consume, but look great. To connect with everyone you love authentically. To shower them with gifts. To give the gift of giving, to yourself. To buy tape once a year. To consider a gym. To wonder why it's so dark, so early and why anyone leaves the house ever at all!
Pair this with the ups and downs of, you know, living, and phewwww. We see you and are here to help: a guide for just what to sip when the tinsel hits the fan. Without further ado we humbly present a wine pairing guide for the special situations one might find oneself in over the holidays. Kanpai!
Away from home and feeling stuff... Aren't holidays made by the card companies anyhow?
Pairing: Moscato D'Asti
Let's start here. Yes, time means nothing and corporations are exploiting our feelings, we know. You've gone to yoga, you've read that thought piece on self care, you've deep cleaned your kitchen, you've taken a social media break, you have done it all.
Congratulations! Why not a celebratory drink, not for them, but for you? Not for the holidays, but for every day as a celebration of life!
Reward yourself with a Moscato D'Asti. This is an aromatic, slightly sparkling, low alcohol treat from the North-West of Italy that is utterly, undeniably delicious and will be a perfect accompaniment to delivery Thai food, leftover Chinese food, existential crises and the joy of an ordinary moment on an ordinary day. Nothing is happening! You are fine.
Friends get together to not be alone, still feel alone, laugh even louder.
Okay, so you've gathered friends together who also don't have family close by. You are going to have the best time! Family is for fools! Friends are the way, the light, your everything! This can actually be a super time, as long as no one drinks too much and falls victim to lizard brain, which includes but is not limited to unlocking repressed memories, crying and dissociation. Leave those thoughts for deep therapy with Tess. Your sessions are worth every penny!
Lean in to the good and great moments to come surrounded by your chosen family, and don't think too much about the gifts you never received or the moments stolen by your bratty half-sibling Billy. No one likes you, Billy! Jk, all people have value and deserve wellness (except Billy!!).
Discover something new. Like a wine that begins with an X! Our favourite is Xinomavro - think Greek Pinot Noir - it is light and spicy, but interesting and powerful. Your friends are more open minded than your family - looking at you Aunt Sally - so there is no need to play it safe. You are trying something fun and exciting! Close your eyes and imagine yourself in Greece! Plus it is incredible value for a really great wine look how cultured you are your family doesn't even see that, but we have all noticed and are impressed.
Awkward work non-denominational holiday celebration
Pairing: Albarino and Primitivo
It is work party time! It is the first week of December or the third week in January and this doesn't feel right. Carol is bragging about her Black Friday steals. Mark keeps mentioning that big idea that was actually your idea. There is clearly a Christmas tree, but you have been asked to call it the Festive Bush. It is just a lot and your shoes are chaffing and the streetcar ride home is sure to be annoying even with the new King Street rules. Maybe you'll take a cab? This is a holiday from your fiscal and environmental responsibility and Tess says sometimes that is okay! Forgive yourself!
So, let's be honest, the wine here isn't great here. It is bland Pinot Grigio and big production Cabernet Sauvignon that Tammy will call Cab Sahv (rhymes with have) — not Cab Sauv (rhymes with mauve), which you know to be correct. Kill the game by sneaking in some better bottles with the same vibe that will blow your boss away: because they are same but infinitely better, just like you. For white, try an Albarino! It is a salty mineral driven wine from the North-East of Spain. Crisp and dry like your desire to climb the corporate ladder with a hair flip. For reds, skip the Cab and reach for a Primitivo. Primitivo is Italian for Zinfandel aka big and beautiful, but savoury too. Complex and brooding like your inner soul, but still packs a punch because we think you need it. It is almost over.
Too soon, new lover aka #ohgodwhatdowedo
Pairing: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo
What? Nothing is happening! You are just spending some casual time together, here are both of your parents and their parents!
Sometimes you cuff up and things get real, quick. Reach for an alternative red, just like you. You are still independent. Can you not tell from this interesting selection of alcohol? Sip a Ribera del Duero from a powerful wine region in the Castile y Leon region of Spain. This wine is made on a plateau similar to the one you are currently placing your new partner on. It is made from Tinto Fino, a fancy name for Tempranillo - just like you and your lover are Hanging Out, a fancy name for a Committed Relationship. Lol, no you're fine! New relationships are great and regardless of NYE kisses, a big Spanish red will blush your cheeks and make everything seem pretty normal or at least sparkly for one to three hours.
luv u so much first year of a milly let's be robots 2gether
Pairing: Cremant Rosé
Okay you are at month nine and really in love, this is the beginning of the rest of your life! It is bubble time, pink bubbles. Awww.
Look for a Cremant from Jura, Burgundy, Alsace or Loire. Cremant is made like Champagne, but hails from the rest of France and is always supreme value and supreme fun! You need to save your money for your Instagrammable love holiday and elaborate gifts for each other. One day you will be robots in boxes replaying your happy memories together and think, it all started with those pink bubbles! Everyone loves pink and gender is a construct.
FRESHLY DIVORCED FIRST HOLIDAYS TOGETHER
Pairing: Beaujolais Villages, Cru Beaujolais if it's rly bad
It feels right to keep "caps lock" on. In your heart "caps lock" remains on. You remain composed, like you and your therapist Tess have discussed. You are happy and deeply sad. The circle of emotions churns and now it is snowing and that time you went skating, that fight with their parents, that late morning, your new life... Wow. Okay. No messing around, you need something nice and low-alcohol else it will all crumble. "It" being you.
Seek out a gamay and not just any gamay, a Beaujolais Villages or cru gamay if you are feeling fancy; Moulin à Vent and Fleurie will be the easiest to find. It is complex and moving, but energetic and hopeful like the years to come. It will get easier and until it does, sip, breathe and maybe wear a beret and feel good that you know what is in Beaujolais Villages: it is gamay.
Divorce year three. You got this.
You bring your smoking new partner and you look and feel great! Life is so good! Here are your screaming kids. Don't they look happy? You have saved them years of therapy with your strength!
Reach for a Brunello - an aged Sangiovese, you have earned it. Sangiovese is known for tasting like roses and leather. It is meaty and sexy and sweaty and pure and lifted and everything your marriage was not. Take a gulp and relish in the future you have enabled yourself to have. You are your best self and we all know it. Never stop reminding us.
Santa is real and he is asking for a bevvy
Pairing: Ontario Riesling
Omg. You heard a noise at the fireplace, closed your eyes and Santa was RIGHT THERE. It is all a bit confusing. I mean, you live on the fourth floor and the fireplace is purely decorative. It is actually boarded up and you're pretty sure it was installed so the landlord could claim "elegant fireplace" and charge you $200 more a month, which you could really use for Pilates. All that is irrelevant because he is standing in front of you and is everything you imagined him to be! He is thirsty from his journey and wants a lil something. OMG WHAT DO U GIVE SANTA. Santa, like the rest of the world, doesn't know Canada makes great wine. "Santa!", you say, "you give the world gifts, but now I have a gift for you!". He sits down. No one has ever given him a gift beyond cookies and milk and he has complicated feelings about the dairy industry, but also the hormone effects of soy, the waste in making almond milk... What is a big boned man in red to consume?!
"Santa, one of the best things we make in Canada is just like you, sweet but with a racy acidity that lifts it into the sky just like your reindeers lift you. Have you had a Niagara or Prince Edward County Riesling?". He has not. He loves it. Norm Hardie, the patron saint of Riesling, later appears as a vision and gives you free pizza for a year.
Regardless of your holiday needs, know that there is no wrong answer and also being sober is a very good look. We salute you and everything you do. You'll get through this. We believe in you.
Nicole Campbell has a WSET diploma, runs a boutique natural wine agency at Lifford, as well as witchy wine parties under the name Grape Witches. Find her on Instagram cracking jokes and suggesting wines to consume for all of life's moments. She is always casting spells and invites you to join her.