Eight Holiday Wine Picks from Your Local Experts

From beaujolais to riesling to brut, we've got you covered.
Enjoy the holiday season with a glass of red, white or sparkling wine.

With holiday gatherings right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect wines to accompany your meal. With the help of wine experts Eric Hendrickson from the Mahtomedi Liquor Barrel and Eric Robinson from the Cellars Wines & Spirits, you’ll be ready to ring in the flavors of the holiday season like a true wine connoisseur. Cheers!


Hook and Ladder Tillerman Red
As Hendrickson’s go-to red wine, the Hook and Ladder Tillerman is a must-try. Loved for its versatility, this red wine hails from a small family-run winery in California. This wine produces complex aromas of ripe fruit with hints of cinnamon and dry herbs. Once it hits the tongue, you’ll taste flavors of cherry with a lingering currant/ripe cranberry finish. “This allows the blend to show well through rich meals, yet not overpower lighter dishes,” says Hendrickson. $15.99
Food pairing: pizza, steak, pork roast

Matray Beaujolais Villages Morgon 2009
Pinot noir fans will love this wine with its beautiful rose-petal and cherry nose. Made from 100 percent gamay grapes, this wine is made just south of the Burgundy region of France. “This is the wine I’ve personally brought to Thanksgiving for three years now,” Robinson says. The light-bodied rustic red is a great alternative to Burgundy and pinot noir, and tends to be more moderately priced. $19
Food pairing: turkey, ham, salmon

Fess Parker Riesling
“This Fess Park Riesling has found a special place in my heart,” Hendrickson says. This California-grown wine has a bright, crisp acidity that matches well with a wide array of foods. Producing aromas of citrus, white flowers and ginger, this crowd-pleaser hits the palate with notes of green apple and light honey. $13.99
Food pairing: spicy Asian cuisine

Montinore Estates Borealis 2012

This blend of Muller-Thurgau, riesling, gewürztraminer and pinot gris is a definite crowd-pleaser. The Oregon-grown wine has a fresh sweetness about the mid-palate, filled with peaches, apricots and a hint of kiwi. The finish has just enough acid to keep the wine from cloying, resulting in a refreshing, fruity wine. $14
Food pairing: fruit desserts like peach cobbler, or spicy dishes like pad Thai


Chandon Blanc de Noirs
Hendrickson recommends the Chandon Blanc de Noirs for the best bang for your buck when it comes to sparkling wines. Grown in sunny California, the wine gives off cherry and strawberry aromas, with hints of cassis and blackberry on the palate. “The finish is soft, lingering and creamy,” says Hendrickson. $20
Food pairing: salmon with a brown sugar and soy sauce rub

Juve y Camps Grand Reserve Brut Nature 2008
A fantastic option for New Year’s toasts or in a mimosa with a holiday brunch, this complex little bubbly is a great value. One of the drier cavas available, this sparkling wine from Spain has an exquisite bouquet of orange peel and lemon. $17
Food pairing: roast pork, or spinach and strawberry salad

Hardy’s Whiskers Blake
This Australian-grown wine is a tawny port, which is less sweet than ruby port. This dessert wine gives off aromas of coffee, chocolate and toffee. To the palate, this after-dinner selection is semi-sweet and silky with flavors of caramel, chocolate and a slight touch of cherry. $17
Food pairing: chocolate cake with a cherry layer filling or raspberry cheesecake

Familia Zuccardi Malamado 2010
This port-style wine hailing from Argentina is made from malbec and is fortified with a neutral grape spirit. This dessert-style wine gives off flavors of intense, sweet raspberries and red currants. “This wine is a dessert in itself, but can also be served before a meal with robust cheeses,” Robinson says. Fun fact: All Familia Zuccardi wines are made from 100 percent sustainably grown grapes. $20  
Food pairing: Stilton cheese

Meet the Experts

Eric Hendrickson
In the wine business for the past 22 years, Eric Hendrickson has made wine his passion. “I love drinking it, selling it and buying it,” he says. As owner of the Mahtomedi Liquor Barrel, Hendrickson has traveled to Australia, Argentina, Oregon, Washington state and California, among other places, in his quest for great wine. He loves the simplicity of wine—starting as grape juice, and then converting the sugar into alcohol. “I still learn more about wine every day,” he says. “That’s what surprises me.”

Eric Robinson

Working for Cellars for the past six years, wine expert Eric Robinson is assistant manager at the White Bear location, which opened last January. The family-owned local wine chain has five locations around the Twin Cities. “What fascinates me about wine—and, indeed, what fuels my love of it—is the amount of complexity and diversity you get from using one ingredient: grapes!” he says. Ready to explore the world in search of great wine, Robinson and his wife are planning a trip to France, where they intend to visit several wineries.