A taste of home: Virginia wine pairings for classic holiday meals

There’s a Virginia wine for every classic holiday dish. Just follow our little guide! Photo: Morgan Salyer There’s a Virginia wine for every classic holiday dish. Just follow our little guide! Photo: Morgan Salyer

If you haven’t already noticed, it’s time to take a look. Over there, in the wine section at your favorite market, the made-in-Virginia selection has grown. The commonwealth’s industry is coming into its own, presenting a bounty of bottles that will not only please the crowd but also impress the connoisseurs at your holiday table. That said, we understand there are still choices to be made, so we’re here to remove the guesswork. We can’t guarantee you won’t be dissed by that guy, the wine know-it-all. But opting for local wines—like these exceptional bottles—will make you look just that much more enlightened. We even throw in a cider recommendation, because…cider.

Easy-drinking white

Deer Rock White, DelFosse Vineyards

This wine checks all the boxes for a one-size-fits-all white: Its blend of four grapes comes together with light, tropical aromas and a touch of sweetness on the tongue for under 20 dollars. The 2017 bottling—a blend of viognier, pinot gris, petit manseng, and sauvignon blanc—won gold in this year’s top Virginia wine competition, the Governor’s Cup. $18. DelFosse Vineyards. 500 DelFosse Winery Ln., Faber. 263-6100. delfossewine.com

Easy-drinking red

Table Red, Flying Fox Vineyard

A versatile, smooth, semi-dry blend of cabernet franc and merlot, Table Red fits in anywhere, from hors d’oeuvres to dessert. Drink it chilled or mull it for warmth when you go a-wassailing—just heat with a few cinnamon sticks and cloves. $18. Flying Fox Vineyard. 10368 Critzer Shop Rd., Afton. 361-1692. flyingfoxvineyard.com

Easy-drinking cider

Ragged Mountain, Albemarle CiderWorks

Albemarle CiderWorks is known for crafting complex ciders that rival wine in finesse and the knack for elevating food flavors. Crafted from a blend of apples including Albemarle Pippin, Goldrush, Pink Lady, and Virginia Gold, Ragged Mountain is among the cidery’s simpler styles, with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, making it approachable for cider newbies, and also a good pairing for rich foods like aged cheddar cheese. $15. Albemarle CiderWorks. 2545 Rural Ridge Ln.,, North Garden. 979-1663. albemarleciderworks.com


Appetizer pairing

2011 Blanc de Noir, Keswick Vineyards

The region’s abundant fall produce makes it simple to whip up an over-the-top platter: think beet hummus, smoky grilled zucchini, roasted peppers with feta and oregano, and homemade spiced apples. All of these flavors demand a vibrant sparkling wine like this one, which is made from the red cabernet franc grape but using the traditional methods of the France’s Champagne region. $35. Keswick Vineyards. 1575 Keswick Winery Dr., Keswick. 244-3341. keswickvineyards.com

Roast turkey pairing

Pinot Noir, Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Ankida Ridge Vineyards’ Burgundian-style (meaning, earthy and refined) 2016 Pinot Noir is available online and in some local shops, but consider taking a leisurely drive to buy a few bottles at the winery’s views-for-miles mountain-top tasting room. Each time you pop a cork, you’ll remember the beautiful journey. This wine, which is “rich with ripe red fruits [and] cranberry,” according to Ankida’s website, is perfect with turkey. (For an elegant touch, add some wine to the gravy.) $44. Ankida Ridge Vineyards. 1304 Franklin Creek Rd., Amherst. 922-7678. ankidaridge.com

Holiday ham pairing

Riesling, Cardinal Point Winery

Dry or semi-dry riesling is a classic holiday food wine, but the grape isn’t typically suited to Virginia’s hot, humid climate. At Cardinal Point Winery, though, winemaker Tim Gorman has been nurturing some riesling vines for years, mostly for use in blending. The 2017 harvest gave him just the right conditions to make his first varietal riesling since 2007. With just a touch of sweetness, the pairs beautifully with ham, whether it’s brown sugar-glazed, smoked, or brined with a peppery crust. $25. Cardinal Point Winery. 9423 Batesville Rd., Afton. (540) 456-8400. cardinalpointwinery.com

Veggie pairing

Petit Manseng, Horton Vineyards

Raw veggies can make for a difficult wine pairing, but adding a little heat and spice opens the door to inspiration. Brussels sprouts roasted with onions and beets, savory sweet potatoes with nutmeg, and green beans sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and fresh-cracked black pepper (are you hungry yet?) will find a flavorful complement in Horton Vineyard’s dry, citrus-y 2016 Petit Manseng. $25. Horton Vineyards. 6399 Spotswood Trail, Gordonsville. (540) 832-7440. hortonwine.com

Dessert pairing

Paxxito, Barboursville Vineyards

Barboursville Vineyards’ voluptuous Paxxito is a classic dessert wine. Crafted from early-harvest, air-dried moscato ottonel and vidal grapes, the apricot and nectarine flavors tease out the sweetness of a ginger pumpkin pie with toasted coconut, while its rich texture and fresh acidity also make it a perfect foil for simple frosted sugar cookies. $32 (375 ml). Barboursville Vineyards. 17655 Winery Rd., Barboursville. (540) 832-3824. bbvwine.com

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