There are few holiday traditions as sweet as baking a selection of treats to share with family and friends. This is especially true for the California winemaking family the Mondavis as it is for families across America. As the season begins, Janice Mondavi, wife of third-generation CK Mondavi and Family co-proprietor Marc Mondavi and their four daughters, Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna, always set aside time to gather for an afternoon of holiday baking.
Their Grandma Rosa was an incredible cook, and the tradition continues through the generations. It should surprise no one that in this household, instead of the classic combination of cookies and milk, the Mondavis pair their cookies with wine.
"Enjoying a wine with dessert is common, so why not include holiday treats?" says Janice Mondavi. "The key is to match the sweetness of the cookie, bar or brownie with the right wine, so the sugars and flavors don't overwhelm each other."
Here are some suggestions for classic holiday baking treats with wine pairings from the Mondavi family.
Snickerdoodles and Sauvignon Blanc
A classic holiday cookie, Snickerdoodles get their unmistakable soft, chewy texture and tangy flavor from cream of tartar. The cinnamon sugar topping adds sweetness and a little heat. Refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, with its subtle aromas of lemon and kiwi and notes of savory herbs, perfectly complements these sweet-tart cookies.
Jam thumbprint cookies and Merlot
Fruit flavors make jam thumbprints and Merlot a delicious pair. Merlot is plush, with hints of cherries, plums and oak. The soft fruity finish enhances the flavor of strawberry, raspberry and lingonberry jam, while the buttery dough is a match for the silky smooth wine.
Lemon bars and Chardonnay
A bright Chardonnay enhances the zesty, tangy sweetness of a lemon bar. Medium-bodied, with hint of sweet spice, citrusy Chardonnay meets the cookie in a mouthwatering match made in vineyard heaven.
Chocolate Chip Biscotti with Red Blend
Wine and cheese are delicious together, but wine and a touch of chocolate? Extraordinary. However, not all red wines pair with chocolate. A full-bodied, fruity red wine boosts the flavor of sweet biscotti with chocolate chips. The CK Mondavi and Family Red Blend, combining the finesse of Merlot, the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and the boldness of Malbec, with flavors of black cherries and plums, is the perfect choice.
Sugar cookies and Pinot Grigio
This versatile holiday cookie can take many forms, from a simple sugar cookie to a frosted, decorated masterpiece. The intense sweetness of a sugar cookie needs a light to medium-bodied partner, like Pinot Grigio, with its aromas of wildflowers, peaches and pears, plus a touch of spice and bright acidity.
Almond Biscotti with Cabernet Sauvignon
Buttery almond biscotti can stand up to a full-bodied, powerful pairing. Deep, rich Cabernet Sauvignon filled with cherry and blackberry flavors, a hint of oak and a long velvety finish is the perfect accompaniment.
The holiday baking tradition is a time for family, friends and festivity in the Mondavi household and families nationwide, and the perfect wine pairings enhance the whole experience. So, when you're entertaining friends and family for the holidays this year, bring out a plate of cookies and a selection of wines to enjoy a new kind of holiday treat.