Enjoying a Classic Italian Holiday Season
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Enjoying a Classic Italian Holiday Season

Enjoying a Classic Italian Holiday Season


Are you tired of the same ol’ holiday dishes? This year may be the perfect opportunity to break with tradition and try something new. We suggest that you look into cooking up an Italian-themed holiday meal this year. 


What are some traditional meals, and wine pairings, for folks in Italy during the holiday season?


Christmas Eve


In many European countries, Christmas Eve dinner is the big show. For Italian families, the night before Christmas is the most important time of the whole holiday season. Good food, great wine, and a late evening of conversation and connection with loved ones is in store. In Rome, the church bells ring throughout the city at midnight and cannons from Castel Sant’Angelo are fired, at the same time, to celebrate the birth of Christ. 


For Catholics, the day before Christmas was traditionally for fasting and purification. Today, most Italians skip the fasting period but still observe tradition by eating a lean meal, which consists of seven types of fish and vegetable side dishes. They call this the ‘Esta dei Sette Pesci’ or the Feast of the Seven Fish. 


If you’d like this experience at home, we recommend starting small instead of trying to tackle seven courses. How about some appetizers to get the party going? You can’t go wrong with mini savory chicken handpies, salmon canapes, or shrimp with cocktail sauce. Sound tempting?  We recommend the InVINtions’ Muller-Thurgau as a pairing for your starters.


For the main course, many Italians enjoy spaghetti with clams or shellfish. For the adventurous, fish soup is popular in Southern Italy.  For those who prefer more veggies and less fish, a vegetarian lasagna  is a great choice as well. Grab a bottle of InVINtions’ Pinot Grigio for the fish dishes and our Fume Blanc is great choice for both the fish and lasagna dishes.


Christmas Day

Meat lovers rejoice! The lean dishes disappear on Christmas Day and Italians make up for it with several courses of protein. Here’s some suggestions for your Christmas Day feast, complete with wine pairing recommendations from InVINtions Winery’s Head Winemaker:


  • Appetizers / Starters - Charcuterie meats and cheeses paired with InVINtions’ Sangiovese.
  • First Course - Any pasta with a traditional meat sauce or a lighter tortellini in broth, paired with InVINtions’ Vento Ripassa.
  • Second Course - This is a heartier course usually accompanied by fine game meats, boiled meats, or a large roast. The InVINtions’ Amarone Classico is your best bet for this course.
  • Dessert - A bottle of InVINtion’ Doux Creme Port with a Pandoro or Panettone, served with cream and fresh fruit.


New Year’s Eve


Another late night with lots of yummy food, many Europeans don’t go to bed on New Year’s Eve until the wee hours of the morning. Dinner starts a tad late and is consumed slowly throughout the evening, usually served buffet style so that folks can munch the night away. 


For starters, charcuterie options (prepared meats and fancy cheeses) are common. You could also incorporate a number of finger foods such as an antipasto platter with vinaigrette or mini savory chicken handpies. Break out that bottle of InVINtions’ Fume Blanc again for this spread.


The main dish could be heartier and include any number of baked pasta dishes with meat or eggplant and traditional sauces. InVINtions’Mozzafiato Rossa is the most devine pairing with traditional baked pasta dishes.


After midnight in Italy, the tradition is to serve cotechino and lentils. This dish is believed to bring good luck to those who eat it after the turn of the new year. We recommend a glass of InVINtions’ Cool Climate Pinot for additional luck going into January!


Cooking with Chef Lucas


One of the silver linings of this crazy year is our relationship with Chef Lucas.Hailing from Veneto, Lucas is an Italian chef who has teamed up with InVINtions Winery throughout this year to do some wonderful virtual Italian cooking with us, our Wine Club Members, customers, fans, family and friends. How often do you get the opportunity to cook alongside a chef who lives in Italy? With our Cooking & Wine Pairing series, you can do this from the comfort of your kitchen. Join us for our Christmas session! Call us at (303) 799-9463 to sign up and join us for some delicious holiday fun.