What Kind of Holiday Cheer Are You Serving?

The Root asked four African-American wine and beer experts what they'll be serving with their holiday meals. Take their cues and try a dry rosé, or maybe some pumpkin beer -- anything but another box of sangria!


Everyone knows that you sip eggnog at Christmas parties and toast in the New Year with champagne, but there are plenty of other options for bringing cheer to your holiday gatherings. The Root turned to four African-American experts — leading winemakers Mac McDonald and Andre Hueston Mack, and expert brewmasters Garrett Oliver and Celeste Beatty — to find out what they are serving with their holiday meals. 

Mac McDonald, Vision Cellars

“You want a little sweetness in the wine.”

The son of a Texas moonshiner, Mac McDonald fell in love with wine more than 50 years ago when he first tasted burgundy. As a young adult, he moved to northern California wine country, but he made wine only for his family and friends. Then, in 1995, he founded Vision Cellars, and it has since become one of the most respected vineyards in California, specializing in a small-production pinot noir. He has also worked tirelessly to increase interest in fine wine within the African-American community. 

“Oh, that’s a challenge,” he bellowed warmly, when I asked him about the best wines to serve with the holiday meal. “At my table, there are so many different flavors, different meats, stuffing, corn bread, it’s hard to pick a single wine to match everything, but I like a dry rosé.” He went on to note how a dry rosé will also appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers, from novices to enthusiasts. That same criterion led him to suggest dry rieslings. “Get them from a cool-weather setting where the fruit stays on the vine longer,” he recommended.

Oregonian pinot gris is another style that McDonald favors for the holidays. “There’s just a little sweetness, hints of passion fruit,” he said. “You want a little sweetness in a wine with food,” he counseled, “but not too much.”