It is the holiday season in Monterey Wine Country. Cool, bright mornings unfold into beautiful warm days. It’s hard to get stressed when surrounded by this much natural beauty – the Monterey Bay, Point Lobos, Big Sur, the vineyards of the Salinas Valley, the Pinnacles and more.  Yet, with all of the natural beauty, plus the togetherness and fun of the holidays, we may all get stressed from time to time. Here are some great wine pairing tips to reduce your stress and make your holiday season easier and more delicious.

Riesling is Your Friend

Riesling is a very delicious, highly fragrant varietal with great acidity. Often maligned as being too sweet, many of the Rieslings produced in Monterey have dryness, brightness and balance that make it delicious with an astonishing range of holiday fair. Serve moderately chilled.

Pinot Noir Pairs Perfectly with Poultry (say that fast 5 times)

Pinot Noir, the 2nd largest crop of grapes grown in Monterey, has long been considered a classic pairing for poultry. Pinot Noir is one of the most food friendly varietals, pairing well with a wide range of foods. Fruitier Pinot Noirs pair exceptionally well with roasted chicken or turkey (and even fatty fish, like salmon); bigger, more tannic Pinots are ideal with duck and other game birds.  (They also go very well with beef.)

Chardonnay Lovers – Go Light on the Oak

Wine is typically fermented in either oak, steel or a combination of the two. Oak typically enhances the color and softens the wine, adding a hint of vanilla flavor. Winemakers choose to us varying amount of oak in winemaking – from none to a lot – just like a chef would use spices in foods. In unoaked wines the fruit is prominent and it will be more acidic and bright. Some describe the taste as fresher. Oaked Chardonnays tend to be less fruity, not as bright and crispy – balanced more with other flavors such as vanilla and spices. Because holiday meals often have a such a mishmash of flavors, it’s better to choose a Chardonnay that has no or less time on oak, resulting in fresher and brighter flavors.

Sweets to the Sweet (Sweet Wines with Sweet Foods That Is)

Both Shakespeare and Hamlet enjoyed wines (much to Hamlet’s ultimate demise). Hopefully Shakespeare remembered to pair very sweet wines with sweet dessert. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it works. Slowly sip on a sweet late harvest Riesling or Muscat wine as you’re enjoying pumpkin pie lathered with whipped cream.

Acid Balances Fat (Feel the Tingle on Your Tongue)

Holiday meals are often full of fat (one of the main reasons they taste so darn good). To balance the fattiness of the meal, choose wines that are more acidic.

Bubbles of Course

Sparkling wine (also known as “Champagne” when it comes from the Champagne region of France) are food pairing champions. Well-made bubbles have a natural acidity and effervescent texture, which helps brighten the flavors of food without overwhelming them.

Visit Some of Our 60 Tasting Rooms to Select Your Wines

How many times have you stood in the wine section at your favorite store, staring at labels while trying to figure out what to choose without the option of sampling first? Monterey County has 60 tasting rooms featuring delicious wines and knowledgeable staff to help you discover something you enjoy that will pair well with your meals.

Have a Variety of Monterey Wines on Your Table for Guest to Enjoy

We all have different wine preferences, so it’s nice to have a variety of Monterey wines on your tables to please all of your guests.

STRESSED? Visit our tasting rooms to get away & RELAX

Visiting a tasting room is not only an educational experience, it is also pure pleasure. Make the time to indulge yourself – and bring your friends too.

Break The Rules. Drink What You Enjoy.

This is the most important guideline of all. Enjoy yourself, trust your own taste in wines. You know what you like. And no need to stress, the wine culture is about pleasure, beauty, love, friends, conversation, laughter and a whole lot of fun.

Look for these Monterey Wines at your local grocery store

Riesling- Carmel Road, Cima Collina

Pinot Noir- Wrath Wines

Chardonnay- Joyce Vineyards

Sauvignon Blanc- Bernardus Winery

Sparkling Wine- Scheid Vineyards

Click here to shop from an array of award-winning Monterey Wines.