Selecting Wine For The Holidays

Pick Out Wine That Will Shine For All Your Gatherings This Season

Wine pouring into a glass
Darko Bandic/AP Photo

Picking out wine can be confusing, and sometimes overwhelming.

But Rob Lewis, a Le Cordon Bleu Certified Sommelier and a member of the United States Sommelier Association, Society of Wine Educators and the French Wine Society, says it doesn’t have to be. (He’s also a winemaker and the co-owner of Lewis Station Winery in Lake Mills.)

Here’s a list of his favorite wines as well as some mocktail recipes.

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Local Wisconsin Wine

Christmas Blush wine from Lewis Station Winery in Lake Mills
Christmas Blush wine from Lewis Station Winery in Lake Mills. Photo courtesy of Rob Lewis.

Lewis said many Wisconsin wineries offer a holiday wine.

Here are six of his top picks:

  • Cedar Creek Winery from Cedarburg has a “Christmas Blush” — a semi-dry pink wine — which they’ve been making for more than 20 years.
  • Forgotten Fire Winery from Marinette has a smooth red wine called “Sleigh Ride.”
  • Vines to Cellar from Port Washington has an ice wine — a sweet dessert wine— called “Frosty Jo.”
  • Mona Rose Winery from Green Bay has a spicy and fruity wine called “Lovino Sangria.”
  • Riverbend Winery from Chippewa Falls has a champagne-style wine called “Cheers Demi-sec Rose.”
  • Lewis Station Winery from Lake Mills has a spiced strawberry wine called “Christmas Blush.”

Classic Holiday Wines

wine racks at a liquor store
Didriks (CC-BY)

If you’re not looking for a specific brand, Lewis recommends five types of wine that are best for the holiday season.

  • Champagne.
  • Cava.
  • Port.
  • Ice Wines, which are a type of dessert wine.
  • Food-oriented wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

Holiday Mocktails

a holiday cocktail
Matthew Mead/AP Photo

For those not drinking, Lewis said, “You can still celebrate the holidays without alcohol.” Here are some recipes for easy mocktails — mixed drinks without the alcohol.

  • Cranberry Spice: 1.5 ounces sparkling water, 2 ounces cranberry juice, a dash of bitters, 2.5 ounces of apple cider, orange slice and cranberries. First muddle cranberries and an orange slice, then pour the rest of the ingredients in the glass and stir with a spoon. Garnish with cranberries and add ice.
  • Purple punch: Lewis calls this drink “perfect if you need a little extra energy to help with the holidays (or the relatives).” Muddle, mint, blueberries and a small sliced lemon and add to 2 ounces of lemonade and then top off with an 8 ounce Red Bull Purple. Add a pinch of sugar to sweeten it up. Garnish with more mint leaves and blueberries. Lewis says, “It’s almost too pretty to drink.”
  • Sweet Adeline: A warmed spiced tea, make a homemade cinnamon syrup using two cinnamon sticks, a cup of sugar and a cup of water. Use this syrup in a few drinks, not just one. Take 2 ounces of pomegranate juice, half an ounce of your cinnamon syrup, one tea bag of black tea and add four to six ounces of hot water. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and/or orange slice.

Not into finding all of the ingredients in these mixed drinks? Lewis suggests trying some holiday flavored waters for a delicious twist on water and hydration.

  • Cucumber Mint: seltzer water, sprigs of mint and thinly sliced lemon.
  • Peach Ginger: seltzer water, sliced peach, ginger (skinned removed, cut into small round slices) and a cinnamon stick.
  • Strawberry Lime: seltzer water, sliced strawberries and a thinly sliced lime.

If you want to add a touch of alcohol to any of the above drinks, Lewis suggests adding 1 ounce of a neutral spirit, like vodka.

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