Through the Grapevine

In this multimedia series, we give you the insider's eye on Indiana wines. Tune in each Tuesday for a snobbery-free exploration of a host of viticulture and enology topics.

​​​​​Week 10: Pass the Cheer—
Wine Recommendations for the Holidays

By Natalie van Hoose

The vineyards are bare and the barrels are full—it's time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. In this final episode, we take you into the kitchens of the Purdue Wine Grape Team experts to find out which wines they'll be serving this holiday season and the dishes that best complement their selections.

Jeanette Merritt, marketing director of the Purdue Wine Grape Team
Jeanette Merritt
Huber Winery's Fall Sangria Recipe
  • 3 parts spiced apple wine
  • 1/2 part brandy
  • apple slices and cinnamon sticks
  • 3-5 parts Sprite
  • ice cubes

Combine wine, brandy, apple slices and cinnamon sticks and chill for 1-2 hours. Add Sprite and ice cubes. Stir and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Jeanette Merritt.

My husband and I are hog farmers. That means we have pork for our holiday meals, usually a ham loaf or a citrus-glazed ham. I love serving Chambourcin Rosé with pork dishes. We have quite a few wineries in Indiana that make an exceptional dry Chambourcin Rosé: Huber Winery, Oliver, Butler and French Lick are just a few.

If you want to serve a variety of wines at your Thanksgiving table, I recommend Chardonel, Traminette, Chambourcin Rosé, Chambourcin and Port.

Chardonel (pronounced SHAR'-du-nel) will make any Chardonnay fan happy. The Chardonel grape is a hybrid of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc, so it makes a wine that many people will be familiar with.

Traminette is a very food-friendly wine. Many styles are semi-dry to semi-sweet, so for guests who don't usually drink wine, Traminette is more approachable than a drier wine.

Chambourcin (pronounced SHAM'-ber-sin) is a great choice for a locally produced dry red wine. It can also be made as a rosé.

Port or any fortified Indiana wine makes for a wonderful after-dinner drink. Ports are higher in alcohol, so I serve them in smaller glasses and pair them with cheesecake, a cheese tray or even persimmon pudding.

Jill Blume, Purdue University enology specialist
Jill Blume 

Our family of about 30 people is going "local" this Thanksgiving. Instead of turkey, we'll be deep-frying fish caught by my husband. For dessert, I will be pairing my daughter Dru's homemade Sugar Cream Pie with French Lick's Crema Dolce (a cream sherry-style dessert wine) and her warm apple crisp with some Indiana Traminette.

Watch some football, play a few friendly games of darts, poker and billiards, sing a little karaoke, maybe even take a dip in the hot tub—that's how the Blumes roll on Thanksgiving. And in keeping with tradition, we'll sample some fruit wines throughout the day. Red raspberry wine is always a hit!

Bruce Bordelon, Purdue University viticulture specialist
Bruce Bordelon 

Holidays are a great opportunity to clean out the cellar since you can find a food to pair with any wine. Big meals always include a dessert course, so this is a great time to break out the late-harvest and dessert-style wines that you've picked up through the year.

At Christmas, a portion of the Bordelon family gets together at my parents' house in Sand Springs, Okla. We're Cajun, so it's a family tradition to cook up a duck gumbo with fowl we've hunted, which I serve with a Noiret wine or a red blend. I try to have a nice Traminette and dry Vidal (pronounced vee-DAWL') or Chardonel to pair with the turkey or ham. Because my family members are casual drinkers, I tend to choose fruit wines and semi-sweet wines for them. But we enjoy all types of wine, whether it is sweet blackberry or dry Chambourcin.

Christian Butzke, Purdue University professor of enology
Christian Butzke 

At my house, we kick off the festivities with Easley Winery's Indiana Champagne, and while I'm busy in the kitchen, I like to drink a glass of River City's Vignoles—that's what "cooking with wine" really means.

Turkey always tastes better when it's infused with Traminette. The wine's passion fruit and rose petal characters go deliciously well with the mild-flavored meat. I baste our bird with Wildcat Creek's Traminette, using a generous amount so that the sugars caramelize over the turkey in the oven. The wine also drips down into the pan, so some of that sweet fruitiness gets in the gravy as well.

If you're looking for a red wine to serve at the table, I recommend Larry's Luscious Dry Red, which is the Indiana French-American Wine of the Year. And after you've glutted yourself, Starlight Distillery's apply brandy makes a great digestive.

In the following videos, Butzke offers tips on how to open your holiday wines—including what to do if the cork breaks—and explains what swirling and sniffing wine is all about.

Purdue professor of enology Christian Butzke demonstrates how to open a bottle of wine and what to do when the cork breaks.

Purdue professor of enology Christian Butzke explains how to serve, smell and evaluate a glass of wine.

As we close out Through the Grapevine, we raise a glass to the Purdue faculty and staff, state winemakers and series readers who have made this 10-week exploration of Indiana grapes and wines possible. Cheers!

Credits: Videos by Kelsey Getzin. Photos by Tom Campbell. Web version by Andrew Banta. Through the Grapevine graphic by Russ Merzdorf.

We welcome your feedback: If you have comments on this series or suggestions for future content, please contact us at

Related Links