How to Choose Wine to Accompany a Festive Meal?

Pairing the right food and wine is nothing short of a taste sensation. There’s something magic about serving the perfect wine to accompany a dish… Smiles light up the table with every bite of food and sip of wine, turning a festive meal into a truly celebratory and joyful event!

Foie gras, oysters, scallops, cheese, Christmas pudding… Choosing the right grape variety and vineyard to accompany each of these foods can be daunting. To help you pick the perfect wine to pair with your festive menu, here a few top tips by L’Atelier du Vin, a French wine and sommelier tool manufacturer since 1926.


You can find more information and tips on pairing food and wine in our guide, Wines and Meals for the 4 Seasons, written by our oenology experts David Cobbold and Sébastien Durand-Viel.

Choosing Wine for a Festive Meal

When celebrating a special occasion with family or friends, such as Christmas or New Year, you need to make sure that your wine list compliments your starter, main course, cheese and dessert. To successfully pair different flavours, you also need to take into account seasonality, temperature and the host and guests’ personality.

Carafe Classic Appellation

Which Wine Best Accompanies Foie Gras?

A fresh slice on a piece of gingerbread or mi-cuit with stewed vegetables… Foie gras is a comforting and essential part of any French-style holiday meal!

To accompany its smooth texture and refined taste, foie gras is best served at the beginning of the meal with a sweet, rich white wine, semi-dry Alsatian wine or a dry, fruity and complex white grand cru. An aged vintage champagne will also add a sparkling touch of effervescence, and a hint of acidity will lighten the rich aspect of foie gras.

Amongst the sweet white wines to serve with foie gras for a festive meal, L’Atelier du Vin particularly recommends a Jurançon, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux de l’Aubance, Quart de Chaume, a sweet Gaillac, a Cérons, or a Sainte-Croix du Mont. Dry white wines from Saint-Joseph, Meursault or Chassagne-Montrachet also pair nicely with foie gras.

Which Wine to Serve With Oysters?

For seafood lovers, oysters are an essential part of any festive meal, particularly in France. We recommend serving a dry white wine or light rosé with this starter. Tannic red wines, on the other hand, should be avoided.

The best wine to pair with the strong, salty flavour and viscous texture of oysters, is a vintage white wine with tangy, citrus notes, and subtle fruit or dry fruit aromas. This kind of wine will bring a fresh and light touch, along with a sense of balance. You can also enjoy oysters with champagne to celebrate special occasions.

Depending on your tastes, L’Atelier du Vin recommends serving oysters with a white grand cru, such as a Côtes de Blaye, Entre-Deux-Mers, Chablis, Pouilly Fumé, Muscadet, Essac-Léognan, Graves, Arbois, Sancerre, Côtes du Jura, Château-Chalon or L’étoile.

Which Wine Pairs Well With Smoked Salmon?

Smoked salmon, with its strong taste and fatty flesh, can sometimes overpower wine. We therefore recommend serving a bright and structured dry white wine with character to stimulate your guests’ taste buds. Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, as well as Aligoté and Romorantin, all boast these gustatory qualities.

An extra brut champagne is another nice alternative. All of these recommendations also apply to other strong-tasting fish such as trout, haddock or herring.

Which vineyards should you choose for a festive white wine served with smoked salmon? There are plenty of good options in the Jura, Alsace, Burgundy, Moutlouis, Pouilly, Quincy, Reuilly, Savennières, Chablis, Vouvray or Sancerre.

Which Wine Tastes Good With Scallops?

To enhance the subtle taste of scallops, opt for an elegant and intense white wine, which is not too powerful. For scallops cooked in butter or cream, budding oenologists may also want to choose a fuller variety, with spiced or woody notes, such as a Marsanne, Roussanne, Grand Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc. And to add a touch of surprise, why not serve a Blanc de Blancs champagne?

L’Atelier du Vin recommends a white wine from Graves, Hermitage, Cassis, Pouilly-Fuissé, Riesling d’Alsace, Côte de Provence, Pessac-Léognan or Chignin-Bergeron to accompany a scallops at Christmas, or on any other special occasion.

Choosing Wine to Accompany Cheese and Desserts

Cheese or dessert? At Christmas, or any other special occasion, why not have both? You simply need to choose the right still and sparkling wine.

Which Wine Best Accompanies Cheese?

Ring platter & its textile cheese cover and Duo de Coutellerie

There’s no one-wine-fits-all when it comes to cheese. There are many different varieties, so it’s best to choose your wine according to the type of cheese rind.

  • For mature pressed hard cheese, a Jura white wine, an old Chardonnay or champagne aged in a cellar.
  • For soft and washed rind or uncooked pressed cheese, a full-bodied white wine from Bordeaux or Burgundy.
  • And finally, for blue cheese, a sweet and powerful wine.

Which Wine to Serve With a Chocolate-Based Dessert?

A chocolate-based dessert is always a popular choice at a French Christmas meal or any other festive occasion. For most chocolate cakes or desserts, we recommend serving a natural or fortified sweet red wine to offset the bitter taste of the cocoa but preserve the chocolate’s generosity. L’Atelier du Vin particularly recommends a good sweet red from Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury or Rasteau.

Which Wine Pairs Perfectly With Christmas Pudding?

In Britain, the traditional dessert to serve on Christmas Day is Christmas pudding. This rich and fruity dessert tastes great with a sweet and oxidative red wine.

L’Atelier du Vin particularly recommends serving Christmas pudding with a delicious Macvin from the Jura, a Banyuls grand cru, a Rivesaltes Tuilé, a vintage Porto, a sweet Madeira or Xérès, or a Marsala.

Wines and Meals for the 4 Seasons, L’Atelier du Vin’s Guide

How do you know which wine to open to accompany spring vegetables, fresh summer fruit, a meat and mushroom dish in autumn or a cheese fondue in winter? Our guide, Wines and Meals for the 4 Seasons, co-written by renowned oenologist David Cobbold and wine historian Sebastien Durand-Vieil, and published by Editions de L’Atelier du Vin, includes 53 delicious pairings.