The Right Wine to Drink with All of Your Favorite Holiday Movies

updated Dec 6, 2019
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Credit: Minette Hand

There’s something about watching a holiday movie on a cold December day that calls for holding a beverage of sorts. Maybe it’s hot chocolate? Tea? Or wine? If you’re most interested in the last option, I’ve got you covered. I just put my professional wine education to good use and paired classic holiday movies with the best wines. Pick your favorite movie and then read on for my suggestion of what to curl up with. (Yes, my parents are very proud.)

Credit: Ace Spirits

It’s a Wonderful Life 

A classic film that never gets old, and one that many people watch every year. Some things in life offer comfort in both how familiar they are and how good. Classic Champagne is that for me. One sniff of that familiar yeasty aroma, the bubbles — it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. For an option that’s not quite as expensive, try Badoz Cremant de Jura, a Champagne-style sparkling wine that tastes like fresh pears and crisp apples, from a region whose climate is similar to Burgundy and Champagne, but hasn’t built up the reputation (and thus prices) of those regions. It’ll make you feel like life is pretty wonderful indeed.

Buy: Badoz Cremant de Jura, $23 at Ace Spirits

A Christmas Story 

Between the broken furnace and all the time spent out in the snow, A Christmas Story always makes me feel like I need to warm up, even if I’m sitting on a warm couch with a weighted blanket on top of me. Cozy mulled wine is the perfect pairing for this holiday classic. When you’re shopping for wine to use, I recommend an inexpensive, fruity Tempranillo like good ol’ La Granja from Trader Joe’s. You’ll feel like you’re wearing that giant snowsuit yourself.

Watch how to make it: Why Mulled Wine Is the Sangria of Winter

Credit: Uva Wines

Love, Actually 

What, actually, the hell is this movie? As someone who watched this for the first time fairly recently, what struck me about this movie is how unromantic it really is, despite all the attractive people and holiday music. So what better pairing with a movie that’s not really what it says it is than a style of wine that’s not always what people think it is? People often expect Nebbiolo to be a “big” wine — as in rich, inky, and unctuous like a Cabernet from Napa. They are often surprised to find that its color is actually often a pale, coppery reddish orange, and it doesn’t bonk you over the head. De Forville is a fantastic producer based in Barbaresco, a town that is famous for Nebbiolo, but not quite as famous as its neighbor Barolo, which in my opinion is a bit unfair. Their Nebbiolo d’Alba is the perfect introduction to the house style. Don’t think of Nebbiolo as a “big,” wine — think of it more like Pinot Noir with more tannin (that sensation that makes your mouth feel like you ate chalk). Sometimes things that aren’t what you think are pleasant surprises. Sometimes they’re Love, Actually.

Buy: Nebbiolo d’Alba, $26 at PJ’s Wines & Spirits


A rare family comedy that kids and adults can laugh at, and that can make even the most Grinch-y among us feel a little mushy inside. I like the wines from Argentina’s Passionate Wines for the same reason; they are serious wines that don’t take themselves too seriously. Their new Del Mono, a blend of Malbec and Syrah, is easy-drinking and uncomplicated enough to drink with movie snacks on the couch, but has enough peppery spice and minerality to make you pleasantly surprised that it’s only $12!

Buy: Del Mono, $12 at K&L Wines

Home Alone 

For this 1990 classic, try a wine that also has almost-retro appeal: Merlot. Merlot gets a lot of unnecessary eye rolling and suspicion because of the bad reputation it built up in the 1990s for being a blandly fruity, mass-produced wine for people who don’t know what else to order — sort of what “red blends” (don’t even get me started on how annoying this category of wines is) are today. But Merlot, one of the classic blending grapes in Bordeaux, can be plummy, with dark berry fruit and a whiff of peppery spice when it’s not made in a too-ripe style. Try the Textbook Merlot, from a winery that makes wines just like their name sounds: Textbook examples of popular California varieties. Their Merlot is the perfect plummy, slightly peppery backdrop to all those familiar jokes and gags. 

Buy: Textbook Merlot, $22 at Fine Wine House

What’s your favorite holiday movie? And what will you be drinking while you watch it this year? Let us know in the comments!