Food & wine
What to Drink on New Year’s: Your Wine Guide
December 28, 2020
Written By Coravin
It might seem obvious: Drink bubbly on New Year’s Eve. However, we’re excited to share that Champagne and prosecco aren’t the only beverages to enjoy as you ring in the new year.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is celebrated differently around the world and some of these cultural superstitions and culinary traditions pair best with a classic red or refreshing white. We travel across the globe to pair different New Year’s Eve celebrations with the perfect wine.
Let’s get loud
From bright, colorful fireworks to church bells, most countries love to make noise. In ancient Thailand and China, guns and firecrackers were (and still are) fired to ward off demons. Today, we ring bells, honk horns, and bang pots and pans to bid the old year farewell once the clock strikes midnight.
Your pairing: This is the perfect time to pop a bottle of bubbly and shout out your best “Woo!”
Chow down on these 5 lucky foods
See what we did there? You might’ve heard of the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes – one grape for every chime of the clock when it strikes midnight. There are also other, more flavorful culinary traditions – ones that we asked three expert sommeliers to help us pair with the perfect wine. See suggestions from Matthew Pridgen from Underbelly Hospitality (Houston), Steven Grubbs from Empire State South and Five & Ten (Georgia), and Carlton McCoy from The Little Nell (Aspen) below.
1. Hoppin’ John
In the South, Americans eat Hoppin’ John – a dish made of black-eyed peas and pork – on New Year’s for wealth and prosperity. Our experts recommend a rich, sturdy wine for this dish:
Pridgen’s Pick: Furmint, Kovács Nimród Nagy-Eged (2011): “This wine carries richness and weight due to some Botrytized grapes [meaning grapes with fungus] and oak aging, making it a perfect partner to a bowl of peas cooked down with a smoked ham hock.”
Grubbs’ Pick: Pinot Grigio, Russiz Superiore Collio (2012): “Pinot Grigio from the Collio typically has a particular sturdiness to match the starchy peas and a woodsy spice note to go with any pepper that should be in the prep.”
McCoy’s Pick: Syrah, Marcel Juge Cornas (1999): “Juge is rarely seen in the U.S., but it’s not very expensive and it’s 100% Syrah. With a very, rustic earthy dish like this, the wine complements that. Smoked meat also goes well with a smoky, meaty syrah.”
2. Collard Greens
Also sound on Southern tables during New Year’s Day celebrations is collard greens to symbolize, again, wealth (green bills). For a dish like this, two out of three expert recommend a Gruner Veltiner:
Pridgen’s Pick: Albariño Blend, Luis Rodriguez Viña de Martin Os Pasás (2012): “[Greens are] always a tricky pairing, but this wine’s floral notes and light minerality will put any vegetable pairing naysayers in their place.”
Grubbs’ Pick: Gruner Veltliner, Weingut Nigl Kremser Freedom (2013): “Gruner Veltliner has notes that mirror that of fresh green vegetables—green bean, cut okra, green lentil—along with good acidity to handle the slightly bitter character of leaves.”
McCoy’s Pick: Gruner Veltliner, Weingut Hirtzberger Honivogl (2008): “Leafy vegetables can be difficult to pair; but green veggies with their chlorophyll go really well with the greeny, vegetal characteristic of Gruner. This one is big, ripe, lush, but still very vegetable and earthy.”
Another food suspected to bring good fortune is a ring-shaped treat like a donut. The donut symbolized things “coming full circle.” For this sweet treat, our experts explain that it depends on the donut:
Pridgen’s Pick: Moonlight Meadery’s “Sensual” Londonderry: “I’ve never thought of pairing wine with doughnuts, but I can’t imagine the layered floral and honey notes of this mead wouldn’t be a joy to drink with a big box of donuts as the dawn breaks.”
Grubbs’ Pick: Moscato d’Asti, Cascinetta Vietti (2013): “If it’s a cakey, powdery and fruity donut, then the lightly sweet fizz of Moscato is a good match of texture and sugar.”
McCoy’s Pick: Royal Tokaji Company Essencia (2003): “With a glazed donut, I’d like something that has big, luscious texture. This is the national wine of Hungary, and these people taught the French how to make Sauternes. What’s unique about this wine is its high acid and high sugar as well, which makes it a great food wine. Dessert wines can be too cloying, but the acid balances it out perfectly.”
4. Soba noodles
In Japanese culture, soba noodles are enjoyed on New Year’s Eve to bring about longevity (from the length of the noodles) and resiliency (from buckwheat flour). Superstition says slurping the noodles is best because once a noodle is broken by biting, the luck runs out. For this dish, our experts suggest rice wine or white:
Pridgen’s Pick: Rice Wine, Pagoda Shàoxīng jiǔ (Non-Vintage): “This 10-year-old rice wine is full of umami, mushroom, and beef stock; a natural pairing for noodles with similar ingredients.”
Grubbs’ Pick: Riesling, Rebholz Estate Dry (2012): “The limey fruit, high acidity and floral aromatics complement a lot of standard Asian ingredients, and the texture on this wine isn’t too hard-edged for a dry Riesling, which makes it pretty versatile.”
McCoy’s Pick: Scheurebe, Theo Minges (2012): “Scheurebe is the more approachable cousin of Riesling. This wine is austere, super limey, really floral but not as acidic as Riesling, which can be a little intense for some people. Asian flavor profiles go really well with citrus notes of scheurebe.”
In Poland and parts of Scandinavia, bountiful herring is enjoyed at the stroke of midnight to bring a year full of, well, bounty and prosperity too. For herring, our expert sommeliers suggest either a rosé, Muscadet, or Riesling:
Pridgen’s Pick: Rezabal Txakoli, Getariako Txakolina (2013): “This is a rosé with a delicate spritz, spice, and saltiness that begs for food like pickled herring and its accouterments.”
Grubbs’ Pick: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Michel Delhommeau ‘Clos Armand’ (2012): “Muscadet is a total champ when it comes to difficult foods. Delhommeau’s version is fuller than most, so it can handle the richness of the fish as its natural acid structure deals with the pickling vinegar, which would derail most lesser wines.”
McCoy’s Pick: Riesling, Robert Weil Keidreich Graffenberg Spatlese (2010): “Traditional Scandinavian herring is sweet and sour, so a nice, dense, very ripe Riesling would be phenomenal. This is my favorite Riesling in Germany—it’s very sweet, unctuous, very rich, but not like a Sauternes, it’s nice and off-dry, with a flavor that will stand up to herring.”
Food and fireworks aren’t the only traditions worth noting. There’s also wearing red underwear to bring about love, running around the block with an empty suitcase to bring about more travel, or opening all of the windows and doors to let bad energy out and good energy in.
We’d love to see how you’re celebrating New Year’s! Tag us in your photos on social, @Coravin.