It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and for many of us, the most hectic. The Garden State Wine Grower’s Association and New Jersey’s wineries are here to help you with your holiday needs: wines, gifts, and a break from all the hustle and bustle.
In addition to special events, the tasting rooms and knowledgeable staff at wineries across the Garden State are happy to guide you through pairing all your holiday meals with quality, local wine. Let them know what you’ll be serving and allow them to suggest the perfect wines to take you from appetizers to dessert.
Focus on Dessert Wines
Speaking of dessert, an increasing number of our local wineries are crafting quality dessert wines in a variety of styles.
Chef David Burke recently gave a shout out to “Jersey” dessert wines and vineyards on Mornings With Maria, boasting to her national audience that he used one of our sweet wines as an ingredient in his Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
We asked the celebrity chef and restaurateur—who has 8 restaurants in our state—about pairing New Jersey dessert wines and food during the holidays.
“Port-style wine is good enough that you don’t have to have it with a food pairing after a big dinner. You can drink it by itself. Or, you can pair it with chocolate, holiday cookies, Bûche De Noël [yule log cake], pumpkin pie or anything nutty,” says Burke. He also suggests drinking a Port style wine, like Auburn Road’s Ruby Port style wine that won best fortified wine at the 2022 New Jersey Governor’s Cup, wines as an aperitif before a big meal.
“Cream sherry,” says the chef, “goes well with something crispy like a meringue, a souffle, or bread pudding.” He also suggests drinking cream sherry, like Balic Winery’s award winning version, with gingerbread.
And, for a sweet, balanced white wine, like the Tomasello Winery Epilogue Ice Wine that took home the prize for best dessert wine at the Governor’s Cup, he gives a unique take on a dessert pairing. “Roll your grapes in flour, egg, and coconut and fry them,” says Burke.
His final piece of advice for pairing dessert wines during the holidays?
“Jersey sweet wines work especially well under the mistletoe.”
The Ultimate Gift for a Wine Lover: Wine Club Membership
A winery might not be the first place that comes to mind when holiday shopping, but you’ll find unique gifts in tasting rooms and not all of them are wine. Think magnets with clever wine sayings, wine stoppers, and jars of local honey or jams for gift exchanges, stocking stuffers or teacher gifts. For the special person on your list who has a favorite winery, consider a branded winery sweatshirt or t-shirt.
Of course, the most common gift from a winery is wine, and the ultimate gift for a New Jersey wine lover is a wine club membership. Many New Jersey’s wineries offer club memberships, making the member a VIP with member-only perks. Each winery does it a little differently, but these are some of the extras your gift recipient may get out of a membership.
- Regularly scheduled wine club allotments, often quarterly, with new releases, bottles reserved for club members only, and special surprises.
- Pick up parties for members only with live music and invitations to other member only events.
- Discounts on tastings, bottles, and non-wine products available at the winery.
- Access to new releases before the general public.
- First access to library wines (past vintages with limited supply) when they’re offered.
- First access to reservations for special events.