Holiday Wine Traditions and Recipes


Holiday Wine Traditions and Recipes

Basic Gravy
Cabernet Gravy

The holidays are the quintessential time to both enjoy and share wine. In fact, the right wine adds elegance to any holiday occasion and plays an important role as a gift, an entertaining staple, and a key recipe ingredient for celebration dishes throughout the season. 

"For my grandfather, my father, and for me, wine has always been a way of life in our family," said Mike Martini, third-generation winemaker for Louis M. Martini Winery, established nearly 80 years ago in the heart of California's Napa Valley. "Special occasions are invitations to open special bottles of wine with great friends. We usually share our Christmas with friends and family, and everybody contributes wine, so it is like a big tasting session with food. It is the most significant thing that occurs other than giving thanks for a wonderful life."

To help you choose a wine to celebrate the season, Mike suggests a selection from the Martini family's ultimate Christmas Cab Collection: the Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, a perfect pairing for casual holiday get-togethers; the Napa Valley Cabernet, for more formal holiday gatherings; or the Monte Rosso Cabernet, for going all-out with an extra special bottle of wine.

Wine also adds rich flavor to holiday recipes. This recipe for Cabernet Gravy starts with a classic gravy, which should be made the day ahead of when it will be served. By cooking it down and letting it sit overnight, the flavors will marry together. Once the base is done, it can be flavored and customized easily; so easy in fact that you can make more than one to satisfy all palates at your table.

For more Martini Family recipes and wine pairing suggestions visit, or

California Table Wine, (c) 2012 Louis M. Martini Winery, St. Helena, CA.  All rights reserved.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Basic Gravy


  • 1 cup stock, cooled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour


  1. In heavy sauce pan, melt butter and add flour. Being careful not to burn flour, stir continuously and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until it is a deep chestnut color. The darker it becomes, the more depth of flavor will develop.
  2. Whisk in cold stock, bring to a simmer. Once it has reduced to the desired consistency, season to taste and store overnight in the refrigerator.

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Note:Make proportionally to the desired amount. For example, if you need six cups of basic gravy, start with eight cups of stock, 1 1/4 cups each of butter and flour.


Gravy Tips:

  • If your gravy is too salty, add a 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar or a pinch of brown sugar.
  • To minimize lumps, use a handy immersion blender to smooth texture.
  • If your gravy is too thick, whisk in additional stock. Or if too thin, reduce over heat until it is the desired consistency.


Cabernet Gravy


  • 3 cups Basic Gravy
  • 1 cup Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Bring basic gravy to a simmer, whisking in wine. Add peppercorns and black pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the gravy reaches desired consistency.

Louis M. Martini Winery

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