Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the biggest holidays for wine sales in the U.S.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the biggest holidays for wine sales in the U.S., accounting for 69% more dollar sales than the average two-week period in 2016, ringing up more than $1 billion in sales in the two-week period alone.


When looking at specific wine categories, sparkling wine sees an explosion of sales between Christmas and New Year’s, with sales surging 272% during the two-week period. But it’s not just bubbly wine that benefits from consumer preferences: table wine sales jumped 47% during the two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s Eve last year, with red table wine outpacing white table wine.

While wine of all varieties may be the drink of choice for many, spirits also benefit from the holiday season, as sales reach nearly $964 million in a mere two weeks. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are also the most popular holidays for spirits, which experienced a 79% spike in dollar sales in 2016 compared with the average two-week period. But not all spirits sell equally: brown spirits in particular (e.g., cognac and whiskey) see a dramatic sales lift during the holiday season. Cognac sales rise 104% from Christmas to New Year’s and increase 36% leading up to and including the Thanksgiving holiday than the average two-week period. Whiskey sales get stronger, too, with a 27% increase during Thanksgiving and a 98% increase in sales between Christmas and New Year’s compared with an average two weeks in 2016.

While Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving top the list of most important holidays for wine and spirits, beer, flavored malt beverages (FMBs) and cider sales see greater upticks during holidays in the warmer months. In fact, when it comes to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, beer/FMB/ciders rank only fourth on the list of top-selling holidays, with sales lifts of just 8% over the average two-week period. That slight increase, however, still amounts to more than $1.5 billion in sales, which is more than total wine or spirit sales. Despite beer not being a Christmas favorite, cider beverages see a substantial spike during the holidays with 19% more dollars being sold than the average two weeks in 2016 during Christmas and New Years. Also bucking the trend is craft beers with their diversified flavors and styles trumping other beer segments with seasonal sales around the holidays.

When it comes to U.S. holidays, food and adult libations will always be important. But different libations line up with different holidays. That’s why it’s critical that retailers keep the right assortment of products on the shelf for customers year-round to ensure they can choose the best product for the right occasion.


Liz Palmer

Source: Nielsen


“A little “extra” knowledge on Champagne is a powerful thing!”

Time and Place
The best time for Champagne tasting is in the morning particularly around 11 am. This is when your senses at their best. If you are tasting and comparing several Champagnes, it is best to serve them in the same type of glass and at the same temperature. Avoid tasting Champagne after a meal, and drinking coffee or other substances that will alter your palate. Also, avoid wearing perfume or cologne when you are tasting as they will mask the aromas in the wines.

Stemware: Flute, Coupe or Tulip?
Stemware is a personal preference. Stemware should be spotless, clean and free of any races of detergent or rinsing agent that might flatten the Champagne. The flute works better for young Champagnes served at the proper temperature. If you can, avoid the coupe, it might look sexy and sophisticated, but does nothing for the wine. If you are serving a “tête de cuvee” or super-premium Champagne my suggestion is to use the tulip – they are tall and large enough to allow the aromas to develop while maintaining elegance and depth. The tulip is used by wine makers for their daily tastings.

Decanting Champagne …Why?
Decanting is used to tame the most aggressive fizz, soften the mousse of young, non-vintage Champagne, and in particular, reserved for older mature wines to assist in opening them up to express their full bouquet. Decanting should be done with careful attention to the bubbles. A long decanter shaped like a lyre or “U” shape is used, it aerates the wine to release the aromas while preserving the bubbles. Ideally Champagne should be consumed 30 minutes to an hour after being decanted.

The ideal serving temperature is between 8° and 10° C. Cuvees of high quality and good maturity will be more appreciated at 12° C. The proper way to chill Champagne is to put the bottle in a bucket of ice water for about 20 minutes. Never put the bottle in the freezer as this can destroy the bubbles and aromas.

Fill the glass no more than two-thirds full allowing space for the aromas to circulate. Once the Champagne has been poured, allow some time for the wine to open up revealing its complexities and richness of its bouquet.

Tip: To prevent excessive loss of carbonation before drinking, Champagne should be carefully poured down the side of the flute rather than straight into the glass.

How To Taste Champagne

All five senses are approached when tasting Champagne. For our purposes, we are focusing on visual, smell, and taste.


Start by holding your glass over a white surface to examine its appearance. Define the colours, its depth and intensity. The wine should be limpid, sparkling or silky and absent of any particles. It should be more or less brilliant and transparent but not dull. The Colour Palate ranges from:

pale gold/green gold/grey gold/straw yellow/yellow gold/antique gold

Then examine the bubbles, are they:

do they form a ring?
are they discreet or intense?


Once the initial effervescence has subsided, bring the glass to your nose and inhale slowly, without swirling it around. Then, swirl it lightly two or three times to air it and to release the aromas. Try to identify the family of aromas and isolate the aromas that you recognize. The principal aromas in Champagne:

Floral: rose/lime blossom/orange blossom/ violet
Fruity: citrus/apples/pears/quince/peaches/apricots/nectarines/mango/banana/lychee/coconut/red berries/cherries/currents
Vegetal: Almond/grass/fern/underwood/truffle
Epicurean: Butter/brioche/toast/honey/candied fruit/vanilla/spices
Dried fruit: hazelnut/raisin/dried fig

Gustative Examination/Taste

The mouth indicates the balance of the wine (sugar and acidity) its texture and intensity. Take a sip and take note of the first impression [the attack]. It indicates the balance and the freshness of the wine. Then allow the wine to swirl around your mouth, inhale through your mouth and exhale through the nose to release the aromas and try to identify them.

Overall Impression: Fresh/Creamy/Delicate/Complex

Light/Heavy – Length is ________________

Remember aromas and flavours are subjective and there is no ‘right’ description of a wine – only what your senses tell you.

What was your overall perception of the Champagne? How will it mature? What dishes would you serve with it? A good Champagne deserves to be shares and talked about.


• Add a splash of bubble to your oysters for some added flavors
• A well-balanced and structured Champagne has great capacity to adapt to different food and flavors.
• Champagne has the ability to freshen our palate and never leave us with a dull or heavy mouth.

Liz Palmer


Leaving aside, for the moment, the indisputable fact that tobacco isn’t as popular as it used to be (the reasons for which have no need of being repeated here), the twenty-first century is hardly devoid of connoisseurs eager to set aflame a finely wound Cuban cigar when the right occasion arises. And what could be a better occasion than the upcoming New Year’s Eve, a time when upbeat outdoor and indoor festivities would seem to call for a Cohiba or two? But, would it surprise you to learn that Scotch and brandy are scarcely the only types of alcoholic beverages that have a tendency to pair well with cigars? In fact, believe it or not champagne, among other types of sparkling wines, can serve as an excellent accompaniment to that set of cigars you might have been saving for a special occasion. The reason? Evidently, according to our sources, the inherent flavour profile of tobacco would appear to have a natural affinity for being paired with white wines that sparkle; and the ethereal delicacy of many types of champagne lend themselves incredibly well to only enhancing the enjoyment of as fine a premium Cuban cigar as a Cohiba – La Línea, Clásica, Maduro, or otherwise. More importantly, like all other premium products, there are certain recommended guidelines to follow when deciding on what specific champagne is best paired with what specific type of cigar. As a general rule, it would stand to reason that lighter-styled champagnes, or ones with a greater focus on finesse and style than richness and intensity, ought to be paired with cigars of a more delicate and elegant disposition, perhaps even a cigar of smaller size. Alternatively, for more powerful types of champagne (from top cuvées to the most prestigious vintages) your best bet would be probably to seek out cigars with greater assertiveness and longevity, not to mention ones boasting a larger dimension. And if you have a few champagne and cigar-loving friends to share these with, so much the better. After all, what is the celebration of a New Year without a little company?

By: Liz Palmer and Julian Hitner