Wine School

Your Winter Wine Pairing Guide

With winter around the corner, it’s time to start making your own fun. Here’s a guide to a cozy soiree, complete with tasting notes and food pairings.

A headshot of Logan Davis, a blog author.

By Logan Davis

November 02, 2020

Your Winter Wine Pairing Guide


Holiday season has arrived, and we’ve rounded up a menu to serve with 3 of Maker’s festive favorites: Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Just because rambunctious holiday parties aren’t on the agenda this year doesn’t mean celebrating needs to take a backseat; invite your quaran-team for a warm, delicious night of wine, cheese, chocolate, and more. We asked Warner Dowlearn, Certified Specialist in Wine, to walk us through these pairings, including some of our winemakers’ favorite dishes to enjoy with their wines. Cheers to you, and happy cooking!

2019 Sparkling Sauv Blanc + Artisan cheese & veg platter

The citrus and mineral notes of the wine pair perfectly with tangy goat’s milk cheese and the earthy elements of veggies. We’ve thrown in some Brie, too, for good measure.

What to pair with the (delish) Chris Christensen Maker Sparkling Sauv Blanc.


  • Fresh goat’s milk chevre

  • A yummy block o’ brie (pairs well with bubbles, and we’ll take any excuse to buy brie)

  • Hummus

  • Crackers

  • Raw veggie platter (EX: pepper, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, celery)

  • Castelvetrano olives

  • Raw almonds

  • 1 pear


  1. Grab a wooden cutting board, serving platter, or any other charcuterie display device. 

  2. Unwrap the goat cheese and brie and arrange them on either side of the board (cheese should be reachable from all angles).

  3. Put the hummus in the center, surrounded by the fresh cut veggies. 

  4. Slice the pear, and arrange it throughout the board along with the olives, almonds and crackers. Drop a little honey here and there for those like a little sweet with their tangy goat cheese. 

  5. Devour. 

Pro tip: add a cucumber dill yogurt as a veggie dipping option; the herbs pair beautifully with the Sauv Blanc. Here’s a recipe we love.

2019 Pinot Noir + Roast half chicken or Porcini mushroom polenta cake

We’ve got 2 delicious, warming options for you for the main dish – both meant to be washed down by our Pinot. Both are inspired by Maker Pinot producer Handley Cellars’ favorite local dishes at Luna Cafe and Wicksons in Mendocino, CA.

What to drink with the Maker Pinot Noir from Handley Cellars.

A juicy, herby, lick-your-fingers worthy Roast Chicken. This particular recipe is adapted from Taste of Home. 


  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed

  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crushed

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (5 to 6 pounds)

  • 6 small red potatoes, halved

  • 6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 2 medium onions, quartered


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Place a small saucepan over medium heat to slowly melt the butter.

  3. Stir in all the yummy herbs & seasonings & garlic. 

  4. Place chicken breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, then tie drumsticks together with kitchen string. 

  5. Spoon half of the buttery goodness over chicken. Place the potatoes, carrots and onions around the chicken. Drizzle remaining butter over the veggies.

  6. Bake at 350° for 1 and a half hours. Baste with cooking juices (if you’re like us and don’t have a baster handy, just spoon it with a large ladle-like thing). 

  7. Throw it back in the oven for another 30-60 minutes longer, basting occasionally. You can tent some foil over the chicken if it’s browning too quickly.  A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh should read 170°-175°.

  8. Let it stand 10-15 minutes. 

  9. Carve, serve, eat up. 

For the vegetarian in your life: a creamy Porcini Polenta to celebrate shroom season. Even carnivores go back for seconds. We found this particular recipe in the New York Times Cooking section. 


Polenta – 

  • 1 ¾ cups whole milk

  • A hefty pinch of salt

  • 1 ¾ cups polenta (cornmeal works, too)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Mushrooms –

  • ½ oz. dried Porcini mushrooms

  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

  • 1 clove minced garlic

  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms 

  • 1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Pour 4 ½ cups water and the milk into a medium-size saucepan and bring ‘em to a simmer.

  2. Add the salt, and slowly whisk in the cornmeal or polenta. Keep at it as the mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. 

  3. Turn the heat to low and cook for approximately 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick, drizzle in ½ cup water. 

  4. Add the butter and parm, stir it well. To keep the pot warm, cover it and palace it in a pot of barely simmering water while you work on the rest. 

  5. Cover the dried mushrooms in a small bowl with ½ cup of boiling water, then let them soak for about 20 minutes. 

  6. Remove them – set aside the stock – then pat them dry and chop roughly.  

  7. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan over high heat, then add the garlic and cook it until it sizzles – mmm, take a good whiff. 

  8. Add all the mushrooms – fresh & soaked – to the pan with the thyme. Saute for 3-4 minutes, ‘til they brown. 

  9. Add ¼ cup of mushroom stock to keep the shrooms from sticking – make sure to scrap up all the brown bits, they’re full of flavor! 

  10. Once the stock is reduced to half, turn the heat to medium-low and whisk in the last 3 tablespoons of butter, soy sauce, cream, and olive oil. 

  11. Taste for seasoning, let it thicken, then remove from heat. 

  12. Put the polenta in a bowl, top it off with mushrooms and the sauce. Bon appetit! 

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon + Chocolate lava cake 

The velvety texture and dark-berry fruit of the Cab is divine with dark chocolate - lava cake is the go-to pairing for Alice Sutro, producer of the Maker Cabernet

What grub to pair with Maker's Cabernet Sauv by Sutro Wines.

This particular recipe is extra special. Sarah’s (Maker co-founder), brother Michael Hoffman is a chef, and this is his signature dessert. We guarantee it won’t disappoint. Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 15 oz. dark chocolate or semi sweet chocolate

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter

  • 1/2 cups brown sugar

  • Vanilla extract

  • Grand Marnier

  • 7 T AP Flour

  • Raw sugar


  1. Start by making the chocolate ganache. Melt together 10 oz. of chocolate with the heavy cream (preferably in a double boiler) then put in the freezer (30+ mins).

  2. In a separate bowl: whip together the eggs, brown sugar, a splash of vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier. Set aside.

  3. Melt the butter with the remaining chocolate, and then temper that melted mix into the bowl from step two.

  4. Add the 7 T of AP flour to the mix. 

  5. Prepare your ramekins by buttering the inside and coating with raw sugar to prevent the cakes from sticking.

  6. Pour your mixture 3/5ths the way up in the ramekin, then scoop a ball of the frozen ganache into it, then cover that ball with more mixture. 

  7. Put the ramekins in a 400 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, moving them around after 10 minutes to prevent uneven baking.

  8. Remove from the oven and detach the cake from the sides of the ramekin with a knife, then dump upside down on a plate so the bottom of the ramekin becomes the top of the cake.

  9. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top for garnish. Add blueberries and raspberries if desired, also serves well with ice cream and whipped cream.

Have ideas for pairings that would go well with our wines? Get in touch at

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