Best Iowa Wines for Upcoming Holiday Celebrations

Wine choices and pairings for seasonal festivities

December 23, 2020, 8:10 am | Aude Watrelot

wine paired with food.AMES, Iowa – Aude Watrelot, Iowa State University assistant professor of enology, offers these helpful tips for finding the right Iowa wine for your seasonal celebrations.

During the holiday season, sparkling wines are especially popular.

“A sparkling white from Esprit grapes, rosé or a sparkling cuvee from Brianna will look great on the table and will be perfect for toasting,” says Watrelot. “These wines are fun, festive and perfect for celebrating any occasion. They can also pair well with buttery-fish, fried fish and salty sea food.”

White wines produced in Iowa are slightly acidic, with strong varietal aroma. Watrelot says some of the best choices for Midwest white wines are La Crescent or Edelweiss among many other varieties such as Seyval Blanc, Vignoles and La Crosse.

“The acidity of La Crescent wines pairs well with fish, chicken or spicy vegetables and usually is great for balancing out the richness of holiday food. A semi-sweet Edelweiss wine rich in pineapple and pear flavors would pair well with scallops, spicy food, cheese and fruits,” Watrelot said.

Red wines produced in Iowa are slightly acidic and tend to have low tannins so are not fully bodied, according to Watrelot, which make them better suited for dry pairings and to balance out fatty food.

“Marquette is a very popular grape grown in the Midwest, close to Pinot Noir and is an ideal wine for red meat such as lamb or grilled meat. Frontenac is another grape grown in Iowa, more acidic than Marquette, that is good to pair with beef,” she says. “Red wines that have been oaked will have smoky, oak, vanilla flavors and will be a good pairing with grilled meat and dry meat.”

To learn more about Iowa wines and availability, visit the Iowa Wine Growers Association website and Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute online. Watrelot can be reached at

Original photo: Wine with food.

About the Authors: