When you think of the holidays, you might think about the elaborate dinner spreads, the buzzing parties, or the spiffy post-gift-opening brunch. But sometimes it’s those other moments that really conjure the special spirit — a lazy evening of takeout on December 26, a daytime movie marathon while the wind howls, transforming leftovers into something satisfying, a last drink of the night in front of the fire (or television yule log), a vicious game of cards among family.
Those small moments all underline how time opens up during the holidays. Alarm clocks are forgotten. Emails are left unanswered. Kids stay in PJs all week. ‘Tis the season for one more conversation, one more cookie, and one more glass of wine.
Here are a few of our favorite holiday at home traditions, paired with local wines.
Family Hearts Tournament with Popcorn and Saperavi
Many families incorporate games into their traditions. Whether it’s charades, Settlers of Catan, Pictionary, or poker, nothing says togetherness like smugly throwing your victory in the face of a humbled loved one (preferably a sibling). On that note, there are few games more ruthless — or more fun — than Hearts. Spend the evening saddling your siblings with the Queen of Spades while you stuff your face with popcorn and swirl a glass of bold, dry red wine. Saperavi is smoky and tannic with notes of dark fruit, and it’s as beguiling as your brilliant strategy.
Cantonese Take-out with Riesling
Whether Chinese food is your Christmas tradition or something that gives you the night off after the holiday frenzy, an extravagant takeout order is its own kind of luxury. The marvelous interplay of sweet and salty calls out for a crisp, acidic white. Eat straight out of the carton ‘90s-sitcom style and pour yourself a large glass of Riesling, a wine with a bright, mouth-watering pop and a little bit of residual sweetness. Oh, and pass the eggrolls.
Cookies Hot Out of the Oven with Port-style Wine
Cookies as dessert are overrated. These seasonal fixtures actually taste best in those in-between times: alongside an afternoon cup of tea, as a late-night snack, or as a mid-morning pick-me-up. But the BEST time to eat a cookie is as a reward for your hard work, aka hot out of the oven. We suggest sipping while you bake, turning an activity into a party. Choose something amenable to little nips between trays — pour yourself a cute little glass of Port-style wine, bursting with notes of dried fruit and chocolate.
Leftover Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Sparkling Vidal Blanc
What if you could have a restaurant-quality breakfast with zero (extra) work? Deploy those leftover latkes in the service of deliciousness! Just reheat them in the toaster oven and then top with slices of smoked salmon and a dab of sour cream. Nothing says vacation like a glass of wine before noon — a crisp sparkling Vidal Blanc is a brilliant way to start your day, and the acidity will balance the salty richness of the dish.
Cold Spiral-cut Ham Eaten Standing Up at the Kitchen Counter with Rosé
A fridge full of leftovers is a harbinger of happiness. The holiday ham is a charming centerpiece of the big meal, but it might be even better after a few hours in the fridge, eaten with your hands, standing up at the kitchen counter: the pink slices are sweet, salty, and just the right level of toothsome. Pour a cold glass of rosé — fruity, dry, and invigorating — to refresh your palate and keep your appetite firing.
This article was previously published by the Pennsylvania Winery Association. Find PA wineries, wine trails, events, and more at PennsylvaniaWine.com.