One of my favorite childhood memories is making Christmas cookies. It was an annual tradition and we had a set menu: chocolate crinkles, cut-outs, snickerdoodles, snowballs, and probably a few others I’m forgetting. We also made fudge and divinity if it wasn’t too humid for the candy to set. When we made the cut-outs my siblings and I each got a pan of cookies to decorate, and then of course we got to eat them when they were finished! I always preferred the smaller cookies (especially the candy cane shaped ones!) because they were a little crunchier than the others. The cookies were, of course, left out for Santa on Christmas Eve and featured prominently on Christmas morning, when we ate cookies and candy for breakfast because my mom was too busy to make breakfast.
I still love to make Christmas cookies, and I love the idea of carrying on the tradition of making them with loved ones each year. If your loved ones are old enough, why not add to the tradition and make it a wine and cookie party? This year, I made 3 of my favorite cookies and sampled them with wine to find the best matches. Here are my picks for Christmas cookie and wine pairings:
Sugar cookies and a white blend
My absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe comes out of the oven with a slightly chewy middle and crispy edges. I usually use vanilla extract in the cookies, but you could easily play with the flavors and make a variety of cookies- peppermint, lemon, strawberry, orange…just make sure to adjust your wine pairings if you change the extract from vanilla. I like an easy drinking white blend with the cookie best because it blended well with the super sweet cookies. Riesling is a good runner-up as well. The big surprise is that a Portuguese red blend from Dao actually went well with the sugar cookies. Usually the tannins in red wine don’t pair well with super sweet desserts, but in this case the tannins and the sugars almost dance on your tongue.
Chocolate crinkles with pinot noir
I have recently learned that not everyone in the world has heard of chocolate crinkles, let alone tasted them. I’m shocked! These cookies have been such a big part of my holiday life that I assumed everyone made them. The best chocolate crinkles recipe is in the Williams-Sonoma cookbook- it calls for both cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which makes the cookies rich. You can change the types of chocolate to suit your tastes- want something dark and rich? Use a bittersweet or dark chocolate. Prefer your cookies ultra-sweet? Go for a milk chocolate, or even throw in some white chocolate chips. The wine pairing will vary depending on the type of chocolate you use. I opted for a dark chocolate cocoa and dark chocolate chips and paired them with a pinot noir, a syrah/Grenache blend, and a cabernet sauvignon. All of these worked well because the cookie is nice and bold with the dark chocolate.
Snickerdoodles with Riesling
While snickerdoodles used to be relegated to my holiday baking repertoire, I now make them year-round because they’re easy to make and a big crowd pleaser. The snickerdoodles are pretty easy to overbake, so don’t be afraid to pull them out of the oven slightly earlier than you think you should. Leave them on the cookie sheet for a minute or two and the heat will help them finish while setting the cookie. Riesling and chardonnay both mix with the cinnamon in the cookies to evoke an apple flavor, which I love.
Whether you’re leaving your cookies out for Santa or packaging them in cute tins as gifts, don’t be afraid to have a little extra fun pairing your favorite cookies with a glass of wine!