Whether you’re hosting a merry gathering or simply enjoying a cosy evening by the fire, the Christmas season isn’t complete without a cup of good cheer.

This time of year plays host to so many beautiful flavours, and whether you choose to whip up some festive cocktails or find a wine to pair with your Christmas dinner, now is the perfect time to explore brand-new flavour combinations.

To help you get into the party spirit, the experts from Bottled & Boxed share their top festive drinks pairings and recipes for your holiday celebrations.

The perfect pairing

If you’re searching for the ultimate tipple to enjoy alongside your festive feast, try pairing wines with your courses. From starter to dessert, there’s a whole range of flavours to explore. Here are our favourite picks for each course.


If you’ve opted for a seafood starter, choose a light, crisp white to accompany it. Something fresh and citrusy like a Chablis or sauvignon blanc will provide a sweet zing that cuts through the richness of smoked salmon or lobster without overpowering the flavours. Of course, there’s nothing more festive than fizz, and a glass of dry prosecco or champagne will also make the perfect pairing.

If you’re serving up a classic prawn cocktail, any dry white wine will be a great match. However, an off-dry Riesling can offset the sweetness of a Marie Rose sauce, making it a particularly suitable pairing. You could also try a Provence rosé with a dry and delicately fruity finish to offset the slightly tangy nature of your cocktail sauce.


Moving onto the main event, you may want to opt for a different wine to enjoy alongside your hearty dishes. White meats like turkey and chicken and most vegetarian dishes call for lighter, less tannic wines so as to not overpower their subtle flavour. A light- or medium-bodied red such as a Valpolicella or Pinot Noir will work well. Look for wines with notes of red fruit such as cherry to pair nicely with your cranberry sauce too. If you’re searching for something a little heavier to pair with beef or lamb, look for richer varieties like a deep Bordeaux or Malbec.

A Pinot Noir, especially one from New Zealand, is a good all-rounder if you’ve opted for a variety of meats, as it’s light enough for white meat, but heavy enough for richer dishes. What makes a New Zealand pinot noir particularly special is the country’s climate. Pinot Noir grapes are notoriously hard to grow and will ripen too quickly in warmer climates but won’t ripen at all in colder areas. New Zealand has the perfect combination of bright sunny days and cold night-time temperatures which help produce some of the freshest, fruitiest, and most well-balanced Pinot Noir varieties in the world.


With your main course out of the way, it’s time for dessert. The general rule here is to pick a wine that is sweeter than your dish. This is because sweet foods can make a wine taste more bitter or sour, so pairing dessert with a sweet dessert wine can help retain a balanced flavour profile.

Most of us will be tucking into a Christmas pudding this festive season so will want to look for something like a tawny port to pair with the rich fruitiness of this dessert. These ports generally have mellow woody notes with delicate hints of nuts and berries and a smooth jammy finish that pairs perfectly with a classic Christmas pudding as well as decadent chocolate-based desserts. 

If you’ll be serving up a cheeseboard for dessert, it can be tricky to match just one wine with every cheese on your board. Creamy cheeses like brie or camembert pair well with more acidic and less tannic white wines like chardonnay, while crumbly cheeses like Wensleydale suit dry wines like sauvignon blanc or Riesling. Strong cheeses such as stilton need a deep and fruity wine to cut through the flavours, so are best paired with a port. For the most universal pairing for your cheeseboard, look for a fruity chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Christmas cocktails

The festive season wouldn’t be complete without a few cocktails. Whether you prefer something fresh and fruity or strong and spicy, let these Christmas cocktail creations warm you through this winter.

Cinnamon apple whiskey sour

This cinnamon apple whiskey sour is a delightful twist on the classic whiskey sour, combining the warmth of whiskey with the tartness of apple. The addition of homemade cinnamon syrup adds some subtle comfort, making it the perfect tipple to enjoy this festive season. Add some apple slices and a cinnamon stick for extra flourish.


For the cinnamon syrup:

  • 120ml water
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 4–5 cinnamon sticks

For the cocktail:

  • 60ml whiskey
  • 30ml apple cider
  • 15ml cinnamon syrup (recipe below)
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Cinnamon stick and apple slice for garnish


For the cinnamon syrup:

  • In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let it cool.
  • Once cooled, strain out the cinnamon sticks.

For the cocktail:

  • Shake whiskey, apple cider, simple syrup, and lemon juice with ice.
  • Strain into a glass with ice.
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.

Spiced cranberry mule

If you’re searching for a cocktail with a kick, look no further than the spiced cranberry mule. This vibrant and festive cocktail melds the zest of ginger beer with the tartness of cranberry and a touch of warming spices. Vodka forms the spirituous base, offering a clean canvas for the lively combination of flavours, but you can switch it out for soda water to make a non-alcoholic version.


  • 50ml vodka
  • 120ml ginger beer
  • 50ml cranberry juice
  • 15ml lime juice
  • Ice
  • Fresh cranberries and rosemary for garnish


  • Combine vodka, ginger beer, cranberry juice, and lime juice in a glass over ice.
  • Stir until well mixed.
  • Garnish with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Festive rum punch royale

Toast to the holiday season with a festive rum punch royale. This Christmassy tipple seamlessly blends the rich and spiced character of rum with the vibrant, seasonal notes of citrus and cranberry. The inclusion of ginger syrup or liqueur elevates the drink with a spicy kick, reminiscent of gingerbread and holiday desserts. The final flourish of festive fizz and a Christmas garnish brings all the fun and sparkle of the season to your cocktail celebrations. 


  • 50ml dark rum
  • 25ml orange juice
  • 25ml cranberry juice
  • 10ml ginger syrup (or ginger liqueur)
  • Prosecco or sparkling wine
  • Ice
  • Orange slices, cranberries, maraschino cherries, and/or a cinnamon stick for garnish


  • In a shaker, combine spiced rum, orange juice, cranberry juice, and ginger syrup. Shake well.
  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice.
  • Top with Prosecco or sparkling wine for a festive fizz.
  • Garnish with orange slices, floating cranberries, and a cinnamon stick for a Christmas touch.


“This time of year is perfect for exploring new flavours and embracing old favourites. Whether you’re adding some festive twists to classic cocktail recipes or elevating your Christmas dinner with the perfect wine pairing, you may very well find a new favourite sip.

“When it comes to wine pairing, the goal is to enhance the flavours of both the food and the wine, creating a harmonious dining experience. The biggest consideration is the intensity of the dish. Lighter wines complement a lighter fare, while heartier dishes pair well with robust wines.

“Next, take note of the flavours in the dish and choose a wine that complements or contrasts them. Crisp wines cut through rich and creamy dishes, while highly acidic, zesty wines can provide a refreshing contrast to fatty or oily foods.

“Finally, let your personal preferences guide you and don’t be afraid to break the rules if you’d like to explore new combinations. “

-Steve King, Managing Director of Bottled & Boxed

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