Serving wine? Make it easy with our smart buying guide.

By Natalie MacLean
November 11, 2009
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Try these amazing wines with some of our favorite recipes for a successful holiday party.


2008 De Bortoli Selection Rosé, Australia ($13)
Ripe field strawberries in a basket. Great with light pasta dishes.
Pair with:  Pasta with Clam Sauce

2008 Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé, Marlborough, New Zealand ($14)
A wonderfully vibrant wine with aromas of fresh field strawberries. Zippy and refreshing with lovely notes of raspberries and red plums.
Pair with:  Beer-Battered Sardines with Wasabi Mayonnaise

2008 Planeta Rosé, I.G.T., Sicily, Italy ($14)
Mouthwatering aromas of strawberry, cranberry, rose petal. Many layers of flavor with a juicy core.
Pair with: Scallop and Spinach Salad with Warm Dressing

2008 Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Rosé, A.C., Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France ($12)
Incredible depth and length. Vast fields of strawberries await you. Extremely dry.
Pair with:  Mussels with Salsa Verde

2008 Muga Rosado, D.O.C.A., Rioja, Spain ($13)
A very dry, blended rosé from Tempranillo and Grenache (red) and Viura (white) grapes. Aromas of tart strawberries and raspberries.
Pair with:  Phyllo Sushi Rolls


2007 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Chardonnay, Australia ($10)
A voluptuously layered, full-bodied Chardonnay with delicious notes of ripe peach, butterscotch, and melon. Nicely balanced.
Pair with:  Fettuccine with Lobster and Shrimp in a Shallot and Wine Sauce

2008 Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand ($14)
Herb, grapefruit, chives, lime, and lemon aromas. Zippy acidity, no oak.
Pair with:  Blue Crab Dip

2008 Torres Viña Esmeralda, D.O.C., Catalunya, Spain ($13)
A lovely aromatic white with notes of lychee, rose petals, white peach, white flowers, and white pepper. Light- to medium-bodied. Perfect aperitif. A blend of Moscatel de Alejandra (85%) and Gewürztraminer (15%). Great with soft cheeses and seafood paté.
Pair with:  Shrimp Paté

2008 Lamberti Rose Pinot Grigio, Italy ($12)
Extremely dry, light white with faint aromas of field strawberries.
Pair with:  Clams with Linguine and Spring Garlic

2007 Ironstone Vineyards Obsession Symphony, California ($12)
A cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris grapes creates a lovely aromatic wine with rose petals and lychee notes. Great with spicy dishes.
Pair with:  Sesame-Crusted Scallops with Asian Vinaigrette


2007 Cookoothama Cabernet Merlot, New South Wales, Australia ($14)
Terrific balance in this full-bodied, tasty red with rich, notes of plums and black raspberries.
Pair with:  Roast Beef, Tomato, and Red Onion Sandwich with Peppery Balsamic Vinaigrette Sauce

2007 Ruffino Fonte Al Sole, Tuscany, Italy ($13)
The grapes are grown in sun-drenched Tuscany. Al sole means “sourced from the sun.” Lovely berry ripeness with a tangy finish. A blend of 40% Sangiovese and 60% Cabernet Sauvignon to produce a medium-bodied, supple wine. Great with chicken or tuna.
Pair with:  Grilled Tuna Steaks with Spiced Soy Glaze

2008 Canaletto Nero D’avola Merlot, I.G.T., Sicily, Italy ($12)
A gorgeously plummy-rich wine with supple layers of blackberries and dark spices. Full-bodied and balanced with a savory note on the finish.
Pair with:  Marinated Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

2008 Tapeña Tempranillo, Tierra de Castilla, Spain ($8)
Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. A luscious wine that rolls with ripe black plum flavor. Lovely notes of dark chocolate on the end. Full-bodied.
Pair with:  Ginger-Lime Marinated Shrimp Kebabs with Flank Steak and Cilantro Butter

2007 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon California Collection, United States ($10)
An incredible price for this tasty, plummy, supple red! Layers of flavor make it a sure-fire party pleaser.
Pair with:  Côtes de Boeuf with Herb Butter

2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, California ($37)
2008 Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne, France ($40)
1999 Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne, France ($175)

Count on one drink per guest per hour for a cocktail party. For a sit-down dinner or overnight guests, plan on serving up to two drinks per hour. A standard 750-ml bottle of bubbly will give you five generous flute glass servings; a still table wine, four glasses. Older guests often prefer spirits, while younger drinkers favor wine and spritzers. Remember to provide plenty of nonalcoholic beverages, such as sparkling water and fruit juice.

Your soirée―not your Champagne corks―should be a blast. Keep these tips in mind when serving sparkling wine.
• Chill thoroughly before opening―20 minutes in ice water works best, but an hour in the fridge will do, too.
• Remove the foil and wire cage from the cork.
• To open, keep one hand firmly on the cork while using the other to turn the bottle slowly. No corkscrews are needed because it’s the bottle, rather than the cork, that’s being turned. (Nervous? Cover the cork with a dish towel before turning the bottle.) The pressure inside the bottle will start to push the cork out. The cork should come out with a sigh rather than a pop.
• Serve Champagne or sparkling wine in flutes―tall, narrow glasses―rather than broad-brimmed wine goblets to preserve the fizz and concentrate the aromas.
• A Champagne stopper preserves bubbly for several days. The carbon dioxide in the wine is a natural barrier to oxidation.

Natalie MacLean, author of the bestseller Red, White, and Drunk All Over (Bloomsbury, 2007), publishes a free wine newsletter at