Wine Pairings for Santa

Children in Chile leave Viejo Pascuero (Old Man Christmas) Chilean pan de pascua, a sponge cake flavored with ginger, honey, and candied fruit. A demi-sec or rosé champagne, gewürztraminer, or port wine are all excellent options to pair with this sweet dessert. We like this Gremillet champagne brut rosé for its fruity aromatics and taste.

An easy pairing for Santa's cookies is vin santo, an Italian dessert wine. In Italy, natives dip biscotti in this dessert wine because the sweet flavors complement each other. This wine will make a great alternative to milk for Santa. The Los Molles Late Harvest 2009 is not overly sweet, but has enough sugar to cut through a sweet treat.

In the U.S., we all know that Santa loves his cookies. For shortbread cookies, try a prosecco or moscato that will cut through the rich, buttery flavor. Try the Ruffino Prosecco, an extra-dry prosecco with hints of crisp apples and peaches, or the Woodbridge Moscato, an acidic moscato with a hint of residual sugar.

Santa craves sherry and mince pies in England and Australia. But if Santa's looking for something with a bold, red fruit taste, a shiraz or grenache would pair well with this hearty dish; the flavors of the meat and wine blend together nicely. We like the Chapel Hill Bush Vine Grenache 2010, an Australian wine filled with spicy notes and perfumed flavors.

In Denmark, children leave out a bowl of rice pudding called risengrod for Tomte, a mythical figure who causes mischief if his snack is missing. This dish pairs well with a sweet bubbly wine such as a late-harvest riesling, demi-sec champagne, an asti, or cava. Try the Lacueva Brut Reserva sparkling wine, for a taste of citrus and honey.

Dutch children leave out carrots and hay for Sinterklaas' horse, and in return he leaves mandarin oranges, chocolate coins, and marzipan figures. The team at Velvet Palate suggests a rosé champagne, sauternes, or gewürtztraminer because these wines have the right amount of acidity, fruitiness, and residual sugar to support the sweetness of the oranges. We like the Wohlmuth Steinriegel 2010 gewürztraminer for its full-bodied flavor and residual sugar finish.

A traditional Noche Buena Christmas meal in the Philippines contains queso de bola, which is a ball of cheese. Cheese pairs well with medium-bodied reds, such as tempranillo. The flavor of the wine balances the saltiness of the cheese. We like a balanced rioja, like the Altanza Reserva Selección 2004.