Every year, we make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies for gifts and parties. Our family is kind of known for it. My mom is the original cookie lady, but Jess and I are definitely cookie ladies in training.
Since my mom works at a winery, and we all enjoy wine, we often gift a bottle of wine with our cookie trays or pop a few corks at our parties. But not every variety of wine is right for every Christmas cookie.
So, thanks to a few generous sponsors who donated some bottles and a few happy friends who served as taste-testers at a recent cookie party, I’ve created a little cookie-and-wine pairing guide for you.
But don’t forget Rule #1 when it comes to wine pairings… if you like it, drink it! Some people get a little too snooty about their wine, but I’ve honestly had $8 bottles that were delicious and much more expensive bottles that made me want to dump the glass down the drain after one sip. If it tastes good to you, drink it with a smile on your face.
And now, onto the cookie and wine pairing!
I love a good sugar cookie, don’t you? They are perfect dunkers for coffee, but also pair great with a large variety of wines.
I’ll start off this pairing list with one of my favorite cookies, paired with one of my favorite wines. Our family has been making these Rolled Sugar Cookies for years. They taste great with Castello del Poggio’s Moscato Provincia Di Pavia… and I’ll be honest, you can actually pair this Moscato with just about any cookie on this list. It was the fan favorite at our cookie party. If you have no idea what wine to buy, this will please the most people with a single bottle. Just don’t actually buy a single bottle… get at least 1 bottle per 4 people.
One of the favorite pairs at my holiday party was our Honey Ginger Cookies with Beronia Crianza 2013. These sugar cookies have a strong honey flavor, and the wine features red fruit and licorice with hints of chocolate and coffee. It sounds weird, but it works! Trust me, it is a match made in heaven.
These Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies are perfect for friends who are gluten free. Pair them with a gluten free wine! Most wines are inherently gluten free, but it does depend on the wine-making process and specific ingredients, so be on the safe side and look for something that says gluten free on the label. Pinots (both red and white) work really well with this cookie, and I love how they pair with Stella Rosa Rosso, which is a crowd-pleasing red wine. Or serve with another gluten-free drink. Here’s a huge list of options!
Chocolate cookies pair extremely well with fruit wines and rich, velvety red wines. Just remember to pair the cookie with a wine that can stand up to its level of sweetness. If the chocolate cookie in question is super sweet, you’ll want a fairly sweet wine to go with it.
These Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Raspberry Wine Drizzle pair perfectly with the wine you use in the glaze. We used Benigna’s Creek Black Raspberry, but sadly, this wine is only available in Pennsylvania. If you live elsewhere, try another relatively inexpensive berry wine. Look for a wine that is made with fermented berries if you can, rather than a wine made with grape and artificial flavoring. If drinking raspberry wine to pair with these cookies is just too sweet for your palate, try Domaine Bousquet’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon instead. This wine has hints of berries and spices, and finishes with a hint of mocha, making it a great pair to these cookies.
If you are serving a chocolate-dipped cookie, dark chocolate works really well with many red wines. These Dark Chocolate Apricot Cookies pair well with Tabarrini Colle Alle Macchie Sagrantino 2011, which is a powerful red. Bold reds are somewhat of an acquired taste, but great to have on hand for the holidays when the experienced wine drinks show up to the party. They will appreciate a dry wine with a cookie that isn’t too sweet.
Cookies with Caramel
Caramel can taste great with red and white, depending on the wine in question. You’ll want a sweeter wine with a lot of body to compliment the sweet caramel flavor. Check out the description on the bottle. Some wines actually say they have hints or caramel or caramel undertones. Those work really well with caramel cookies.
Cookies with Holiday Spices (Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, etc.)
Holiday spices that are found in gingerbread cookies and molasses cookies can be tricky, since the spice profile can make the flavor of the wine taste very different.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without these White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Snaps. We usually serve them after a meal with coffee, but for the wine lovers in the house, try them with a sherry instead, such as Nectar. This is almost like a dessert itself, and its hints of cinnamon and ginger make it the perfect pairing with dipped ginger snaps.
If you’re making Gingerbread this holiday season, try pairing it with a ginger wine, such as Stone’s Ginger Wine. Ginger wines have a really unique taste, almost like ginger beer or ginger ale.
With fruit-flavored cookies, you can get away with lighter wines. It’s great to have a few bottles of fruity, light wines on hand for guests who aren’t huge wine drinkers.
I love to pair lemon-flavored cookies like these Lemon Cookie Cups with bright, crisp Reisling or Gewurztraminer wines. My personal go-to brand for Reislings is Chateau Ste. Michelle. Plus… they are definitely budget wines, without tasting like it, so they are perfect if you are hosting a large number of people and need to keep your costs low.
Shortbread cookies are extremely buttery, so you want to pair them with wines that have buttery flavors as well. I think they go great with Chardonnay, and you can even pick up dry wines for shortbreads that are super sweet. Of course, shortbread comes in just about every variety under the sun, so pair your wine based on the sweetness of the cookie itself.
I hope this list gets you started finding that perfect wine and cookie pairing! Remember, no pairing is “wrong” if you like it!
Got a favorite wine and cookie pairing? Tell me about it in comment below!
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Allison is one of the co-founders here at The PinterTest Kitchen. She also works as a content marketing consultant and freelance writer - find out more at AllisonBoyer.com.