Pair Biltmore Wine with Cookies for Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season to pair Biltmore wine with your favorite cookies to create plenty of holiday cheer!

Pairing wine and cookies

“Whether you’re baking at home, participating in a neighborhood cookie swap, or sending sweets to someone far away, our wine and cookie pairing ideas are the perfect way to pour on the cheer this holiday season,” said Courtney Miller, Vanderbilt Wine Club® Manager.

Bottles of Biltmore wine, cookies, and other foods
Pour on the cheer by pairing Biltmore wines with cookies this holiday season

In the recipes below, we’ve paired each cookie with Biltmore wine to make it even easier to match the distinctive flavors with wines that complements them.

“Go ahead and sweeten the season by purchasing Biltmore wines,” advised Courtney, “then bake some cookies, or snag similar styles from your local bakery; we won’t tell!”

Pour on the holiday cheer

According to Courtney, you generally choose a wine that’s a little sweeter than the treat with which you plan to pair it, but richer, heavier sweets can stand up to dryer wines.

“Either way, you’ll be ready to savor a sophisticated treat for the holidays,” Courtney said. “And if you upgrade Santa’s usual glass of milk to a glass of Biltmore wine, I’m pretty sure he’ll add you to his ‘nice’ list!”


Gingersnap cookies paired with Biltmore Estate Riesling
Spice up your holiday wine and cookie pairings by serving Honey Gingersnaps with Biltmore Estate® Riesling!

Honey Gingersnap Cookies

Heidi Badger, Pastry Sous Chef at Cedric’s® Tavern, developed this recipe. “These honey gingersnaps are soft, tender, and nicely spiced, especially if you use freshly grated ginger. The honey flavor is very subtle,” said Heidi.

Chef Heidi recommends serving these traditional holiday favorites with lightly sweet wines such as our delightful Biltmore Estate® Riesling.

Yield: approximately 3 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1½-2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 large egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger or freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Method
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and honey until fluffy. Mix in egg and set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir into wet ingredients until combined.

Chill dough for 1 hour or until slightly firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Biltmore Estate Limited Release Petite Sirah paired with holiday cookies
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside–these chocolate cookies pair perfectly with our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Petite Sirah

Flourless Fudgy Chocolate Mudslide Cookies

“These cookies have a rich, intense chocolate flavor, especially when enhanced by the coffee liqueur,” said Angie Chan, Pastry Chef, Deerpark/Amherst/Lioncrest/Biltmore Catering. “They feature a crispy outer shell that reminds me of meringue and a fudgy, soft interior. Because the recipe is already flourless, the cookies can be made gluten free.”

For a match made in heaven, Chef Angie suggests pairing these rich chocolate cookies with red wines like our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Petite Sirah.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: about 15 minutes
Total Time: about 2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup cocoa powder
3 egg whites
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur or coffee syrup*
1–2 tablespoons milk

*Coffee syrup: dissolve 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder with 1/3 cup sugar in 1/3 cup hot water. Allow to cool and use the same amount noted in the recipe.

Method
In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites, coffee liqueur, and vanilla extract until lightly foamy. Combine wet and dry mixtures and stir until well mixed. Dough will be very thick and sticky once it comes together. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to help with mixing, if needed.

Add in the chocolate chips and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and coat with a thin layer of non-stick vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking.

Scoop 1 tablespoon worth of dough and place onto prepared cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the top is slightly cracked and dry. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Orange Muscat wine paired with Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread cookies
Pair these citrus-and-cranberry-kissed shortbread cookies with our lightly sweet Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat

For an updated version of a classic treat, Chef Angie also created Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies with bright hints of citrus and the tart tang of cranberries.

“There’s nothing more perfect for the holidays than shortbread cookie like this with fresh flavors to lighten the richness of the recipe,” Chef Angie said. “In addition, they pair perfectly with the hints of tropical fruit in our lightly sweet Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat.

Yield: about 2 dozen
Preparation Time: about 15 minutes
Total Time: about 2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice as substitute)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon salt

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter, and lemon extract together until light and fluffy.

Add flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined. Add lemon zest and milk, mix well. Gently fold in the dried cranberries. Mixture will be crumbly.

Work dough by hand into a ball and then roll into a log about 2-3 inches thick. Wrap with parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Once dough is chilled and firm, use a sharp knife to carefully slice dough into about ½-inch pieces and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake for approximately 11-12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Enjoy Biltmore wines this holiday season!

Biltmore wines and cookies
Enjoy perfect pairings with Biltmore wine and cookies this holiday season

Whether you’re pairing them with cookies, entertaining friends, or simply enjoying a peaceful glass by a crackling fire, you’ll find all our award-winning Biltmore wines in our estate shops, online, and close to home with our Retail Locator.

For a special gift for yourself and others, consider joining our Vanderbilt Wine Club®. You’ll enjoy hand-selected Biltmore wines delivered to your door each season, plus all the other privileges membership brings.


Our Sparkling Wines Make New Year’s Shine!

Biltmore sparkling wines make New Year’s shine–and they’re perfect for any other holiday or special occasion!

Sparkling wines with cake and macarons
Add Biltmore sparkling wines to all your holiday and New Year’s celebrations

“George and Edith Vanderbilt were known for their hospitality,” said Heather Jordan, Director of Wine Marketing. “And when it came to their holiday and New Year’s celebrations, they made sure to add even more sparkle, so to speak, for their guests to enjoy while visiting Biltmore.”

We love to carry on Vanderbilt family traditions—and create new ones—by adding our sparkling wines to New Year’s celebrations along with favorite red, white, and rosé selections from our estate Winery.

Here are Heather’s helpful tips for serving and pairing sparkling wines:

Serve sparkling wines like a pro

Pouring Biltmore sparkling wine into a glass
Biltmore sparkling wines are characterized by fine, tiny bubbles
  • Sparkling wines are best served at 33-40 degrees.
  • Chill the bottle in the refrigerator prior to opening. The cold temperature helps preserve the bubbles when opening the bottle.
  • To open sparkling wine, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Loosen the cage and hold the cork. Gently twist the cork until you hear a whisper of a pop.
  • Holding a towel over the cork when opening will help catch any spills that may occur.
  • After opening, all sparkling wines begin to lose their bubbles, so it’s best to drink them as soon as possible.

Biltmore bubbles add sparkle to any occasion

Celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines
Our handcrafted Biltmore bubbles make any occasion more special

From easy appetizers and classic cocktails to decadent desserts, add extra sparkle to your New Year’s celebrations with the exceptional handcrafted bubbles of Biltmore sparkling wines!

  • Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs: Good acidity and balance are complemented by hints of green apple and pear.
    • Pairing suggestions: oysters on the half shell, crab, scallops, smoked trout, soft cheeses
  • Biltmore Estate® Brut: This refreshing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offers a good balance of strawberry and key lime flavors.
    • Pairing suggestions: eggs Benedict, caviar, sashimi, scallops
    • Classic cocktail to toast the New Year: French Rose 75
  • Pas de Deux® Sec: Semi-sweet and bursting with tiny bubbles, this aromatic wine features the essence of orange blossom and flavors of wild strawberry and lemon.
    • Pairing suggestions: fresh fruit, chocolate-covered strawberries, crème brulee, pumpkin pie
    • Decadent dessert to start the year off right: Praline Pumpkin Pie

Stock up on sparkling wines now for your New Year’s celebrations

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine and gourmet food

Just in time for New Year’s toasts and midnight munching, stock up on all your favorite Biltmore wines and gourmet foods in estate shops and online.

Select Special Gifts They’re Sure to Savor!

Let Biltmore’s experts in holiday hospitality help you select special gifts that your recipients are sure to savor. From thoughtful thank-you gifts to perfect pairings and more, we’ve got everything you need to uncork the cheer all season long.

We asked Natalie Hackney, Vice President of Retail, and Alisha Forester, Wine Sales Director, for recommendations on selecting special gifts for everyone you want to delight during your seasonal celebrations. Here are some of their personal favorites:


Gifts for Her

Couple gives woman a gift bag with Biltmore wine
Give her special gifts–including our award-winning wines–from Biltmore this holiday season!

“For all the ladies on your gift list this season, we’ve got everything from award-winning Biltmore wines to estate-inspired jewelry, elegant handbags, and more,” said Natalie.


Gifts for Him

Man holding a glass of red wine
Surprise the men in your life with special gifts from Biltmore to celebrate the season

“If you’re looking for gifts for guys during the holidays, consider a mix of Biltmore wines, gourmet foods, and a selection of our delicious seasonings, rubs, and sauces,” Alisha advised.


Gifts for Kids

Biltmore sparkling grape juice with star ornament
Biltmore Sparkling Grape Juice is a perfect gift for the kids on your list (or anyone who prefers an option without alcohol)

“We’ve got so many ideas for the young, and the young at heart, that it’s hard to choose!” said Natalie. “But the following list is a fun selection filled with estate-related items that many ages can enjoy.”


Gifts for Foodies

Biltmore wines and charcuterie board
All the foodies on your list are sure to love delicious pairings with Biltmore wines and gourmet goodies

“The holidays offer so many opportunities for foodies that it’s easy to give gifts of good taste with perfect pairings of Biltmore wines, serving accessories, and gourmet delights,” Alisha said.


Gifts for Wine Enthusiasts

Biltmore Grown Beef Brisket with a bottle of The Hunt
Perfect pairings: The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County and Biltmore Grown Beef Brisket


“We know how important fine vintages are to wine enthusiasts, and these are wines you’ll want to share with those who appreciate the craft of winemaking. As for a gift membership to our Vanderbilt Wine Club®, your recipient will thank you all year round!” said Natalie.


Gifts under $50

Facebook fans helped choose the labels on Biltmore Christmas wine
The 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wines makes a perfect gift for someone special

“In this category, we’ve got some delightful wines that make great gifts,” said Alisha. “The three I’m recommending are lightly sweet and pair perfectly with holiday desserts, as well as being a thoughtful way to thank your host for including you in a seasonal celebration.”


Gifts under $100

Antler Hill wines
Handcrafted from premium vintages, Antler Hill® wines are extraordinary

“If you want to give someone a very special gift during the season, our Antler Hill® wines are truly extraordinary. You can savor them now, or allow them to mature and deepen with time,” Natalie said.


Gifts for Biltmore Enthusiasts

Bottle of Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and two glasses
Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is aged 18 months in oak

“This is a special category,” said Alisha, “because these are the folks who love Biltmore in every season! We’ve selected some wonderful wines that they’re sure to savor, whether giving or receiving them as special gifts.”


Seasoned with Cheer


Group of friends toasting with Biltmore wine
With Biltmore wines, all your gatherings are seasoned with cheer!

In addition to these ideas, find more inspiration and stock up on award-winning Biltmore wines for all your celebrations with our Seasoned with Cheer guide to holiday hospitality.

Holiday Décor Ideas from Biltmore and Balsam Hill

Once again, Biltmore® and Balsam Hill® have teamed up to help with all your holiday décor ideas, from beautiful basics to helpful hints that tie it all together.

An expert partnership

“Our holiday decorating traditions are always something we look forward to sharing,” said Lizzie Borchers, Biltmore Floral Manager, “and as you prepare to deck your own halls, we hope you’ll be inspired not only by Christmas at Biltmore, but also by our partnership with the experts at Balsam Hill. Together, we can offer helpful ideas for filling your home with the spirit of the season!”

Choose your holiday décor theme

Three decorated Christmas trees by Balsam Hill

Featured: Biltmore Spruce Tree, Biltmore Legacy Sapphire & Gold Ornaments, Ribbon, Tree Skirt

“Consider your theme and the type of decorations you want to use, including ornaments and matching ribbons or garlands,” said Lizzie, “just like we do each year at Biltmore.”

For 2021, Lizzie and her team of talented floral designers chose “Christmas carols” as their theme to inspire the holiday décor in Biltmore House.

“You can find inspiration anywhere,” Lizzie noted, “from your interests and hobbies to a color you love or a time period that excites you.”

Since the Christmas tree is usually the central element of any holiday décor, Lizzie recommends completing the look of your tree by picking a tree topper and a skirt, collar, or replacement stand such as a galvanized tub or decorative basket that suits your overall theme.

Light up your holiday décor

Holiday decor: prelit Christmas trees by Balsam Hill

Featured: Silverado Slim Christmas Trees by Balsam Hill

“Pre-lit Christmas trees are a convenient option since they minimize the time you spend setting up,” said Jennifer Derry, Balsam Hill’s Executive Vice President of Product Merchandising, “and they provide effortless elegance and sparkle to your holiday décor.”

Jennifer also noted that you can choose between traditional incandescent lights or energy-efficient LEDs. “Go classic clear, multicolored, or look for pre-lit trees that offer twinkly light shows you can control from your phone,” she said.

5 expert tips for staying on track

Holiday decor: Biltmore Legacy Collection blue and gold ornaments

Featured: Biltmore Legacy Sapphire & Gold Ornament Set

Now that you’ve considered some of the basics of how you’d like to decorate, here’s are some tips to help you make the most of your time while creating the perfect holiday mood in your home:

  1. Choose a theme
    Start considering a theme as early as three months before Christmas. At Biltmore, we begin planning a year in advance to make sure we’re ready for the holiday season in America’s Largest Home®!
  2. Make an inventory of your collection
    After selecting a theme, list items needed and set a working budget. If you’re reusing existing decorations, check their condition and look for any damage. Test light bulbs and repair or replace anything as needed.
  3. Clean up before decorating
    It can be tiring to clean and decorate at the same time. If possible, clean the house a day or two before adding holiday décor. This makes the task easier and more enjoyable.
  4. Work with a team
    Ask for help from family members and friends to make setting up more manageable. Start with the big tasks first, and leave simpler jobs for last.
  5. Make time for gift wrapping
    For a special touch, consider matching your gift wrapping materials with your decorative theme. If you have young children or indoor pets, you may want to wait a day or two before Christmas to lay out the gifts.

Ready…set…decorate!

Woman fluffing the branches of an artificial Christmas tree
Take time to properly fluff up artificial trees and greenery–it makes a big difference in how good your holiday décor looks!

“One of the most important things we do when we begin decorating for Christmas at Biltmore is to properly fluff up the branches of any artificial Christmas trees or greenery before adding decorations,” said Lizzie. “It makes a world of difference in how full and natural your display looks.”

To prevent dislodging or breaking ornaments, Lizzie suggests working your way down from the top of the tree. Start with those items that need to be hung all the way around your tree, such as light strings, ribbons, and garlands.

Expert Tip: Spread out ornaments in various sections of your tree. Every once in a while, step back to check if everything looks balanced.

Holiday décor ideas to make your mantel merry

Holiday decor: Biltmore Gilded Stockings hanging on a mantel
Make your mantel merry with Biltmore Gilded Stockings

Featured: Biltmore Gilded Stockings

“Once you’ve decorated your Christmas tree, think about other focal points in the room,” said Jennifer. “A wreath above the fireplace mantel draws the eye and immediately establishes a holiday tone.”

The addition of garland or greenery softens the architectural details of the mantle and can also enhance family pictures or holiday collectibles you want to highlight in that space.

“One of my favorite holiday touches is to hang a group of stockings on the mantel,” Jennifer said. “It creates a merry mood and helps bring out the child-like wonder in all of us!”

Jennifer also suggests creating holiday scenes with tabletop accents like musical snow globes and figurines, noting that console tables also provide nice display areas for flameless candles, greenery, and more.

Expert Tip: Small details matter—they make your holiday décor individual to you and much more meaningful.

Find holiday décor and more!

Perfect pairings: Biltmore wine and cheeseboard gift
Perfect pairings: choose an elegant Biltmore cheeseboard and a favorite Biltmore vintage as a gift for someone special

We hope these ideas have helped you prepare for your own holiday decorating.

Look for more holiday décor inspiration throughout the season, plus browse the newest Biltmore Legacy Sapphire & Gold Collection by Balsam Hill featuring ornaments and accessories in glorious jewel tones that are sure to delight!

Find everything you need to celebrate the season, from award-winning wines and gourmet food to jewelry and gifts, in our Seasoned with Cheer holiday hospitality guide.

Featured image: Biltmore Spruce Tree, Biltmore Legacy Sapphire & Gold Ornaments, Ribbon, Tree Skirt


Celebrate Small Moments That Matter With Biltmore

This season, celebrate the small moments that matter most with Biltmore.

“Gracious gatherings, special events, and festive decorations accompany the holiday season, but many times it’s the small moments that we really remember most, like catching up with friends over a glass of Biltmore wine,” said Jan Douglas, Director of Guest Relations.

Group of friends toasting with Biltmore wine
With Biltmore wines, all your gatherings are seasoned with cheer!

Make it meaningful

“Amidst the exciting rush of the holidays, it’s important to celebrate small moments that matter. Remembering what’s meaningful, carving out time for ourselves, and prioritizing family and cherished friends is truly what this joyful season is all about,” Jan said.

We’ve gathered some of our guests’ favorite memories and traditions to inspire your own celebrations.

Collecting special memories

Jim Shore Biltmore Santa keepsake
Discover all the delightful details that make this collectible Jim Shore Biltmore® Santa so special!

For Cheri Compton, a long-time Passholder from Knoxville, Tennessee, time spent at Biltmore with her mother was a cherished Christmas tradition.

“My mother and I went to Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore for several years before she was unable to travel,” Cheri explained. “We would spend hours looking at the trees and the beautiful decorations, and her favorite thing was to be sure we were there while there was seasonal music in the house.”

When her mother could no longer make the trip, Cheri continued the tradition with friends and always brought her mother a keepsake Biltmore Santa for her collection.

Handwritten holiday wishes

Bottles of Biltmore wine on a table
Celebrate the season with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine

Mailing handwritten Christmas cards is Paige Price’s favorite way to send a hug to the special people in her life.

“At Christmas, I like to take time to remember friends and former co-workers whom I no longer see on a regular basis,” she said.

“In preparation, I make a trip to Biltmore every fall from my home in Lexington, Kentucky, to choose my Christmas wine to save for the card-writing occasion,” Paige said. “When I sit down to begin composing notes to each person and reflect on the memorable times we spent together, I celebrate them, and the season, by having a glass!”

This year, Paige opted for a bottle of our Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs to add special sparkle to the small moments that matter most to her.

Sounds of the season

Hands playing a piano
Music strikes a special chord for many guests at Biltmore

Kim Meade of Tennessee has been a professional pianist for most of her life, but a Christmas performance at Biltmore 30 years ago still holds a special place in her heart.

“I was blessed to be part of a church group that performed at Biltmore House,” Kim said. “Talk about a dream come true! There are few places left that allow you the feeling of stepping back in time. Biltmore is one of those, and that night was an evening I will never forget.”

Kim remembers the decorated trees in every room, and the feeling that for one moment in time, she and all the others were special guests of the Vanderbilts.

“We felt as if George and Edith Vanderbilt might just walk in at any moment to make sure every detail was in place!” said Kim. “Being a small part of the magic of Biltmore during Christmas was a forever moment for me.”

Seek out small moments that matter most

Couple toasting a small moments with Biltmore wine
Savor all your special small moments with Biltmore wines!

As the holiday season gets under way, we hope you’ll make time to visit Biltmore and discover your own small moments that matter.

Like many of our guests whose special Christmas memories are created with Biltmore as the backdrop, we invite you to join us to celebrate your own small moment traditions—or create new ones—that will bring you closer to family, friends, and what matters most to you.

Find everything you need to celebrate the season, from award-winning wines and gourmet food to jewelry and gifts, in our Seasoned with Cheer holiday hospitality guide.

Take Note: Pairing Biltmore Wines with Christmas Carols

Take note: we’re pairing Biltmore wines with Christmas carols in honor of this year’s dazzling carol-themed holiday décor in Biltmore House.

Seasoned with Cheer

“Happy memories are sparked when you hear the opening notes of traditional holiday music, and pairing Biltmore wines with Christmas carols can certainly season the moment with even more cheer,” said Jeff Plack, Senior Director of Wine Production Operations, and a wine enthusiast on his own time.

We asked Jeff to catch up with Biltmore’s team of talented floral designers and discover some of the Christmas carols that inspired this year’s décor for Christmas at Biltmore. Based on that inspiration, Jeff shared some light-hearted pairings of the season’s merriest melodies with our award-winning Biltmore wines.

Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina + Deck the Halls

Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay
There’s nothing finer than a glass of our smooth Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay handcrafted of estate-grown grapes

Lesley Tobar, a member of Biltmore’s floral team, has quite literally “decked the halls” of Biltmore’s unforgettable Winter Garden with the timeless reds and greens of the holiday season.

“I was inspired by the warmth and good cheer of the carol Deck the Halls and its reference to “boughs of holly” because that’s exactly what Mr. Vanderbilt brought in to use for décor during the first Christmas celebration at Biltmore,” said Lesley.

“To capture that feeling of Biltmore’s halls decked for the season, nothing could be finer than a pairing with Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina,” Jeff said, “especially since this smooth, classic wine is handcrafted from estate-grown grapes.”


Biltmore Tree Raising Wine Trio + 12 Days of Christmas

Our Biltmore Tree Raising Wine Trio makes a great gift
Savor the delights of our 2021 Tree Raising Wine Trio

For Biltmore’s baronial-style Banquet Hall, Lucinda Ledford, Floral Designer, chose the beloved English carol Twelve Days of Christmas to inspire her vision for the massive room.

“To complement the baronial splendor of the Banquet Hall, I selected traditional Christmas colors of red, green, and shades of gold,” said Lucinda, “and added touches of blue and orange to reflect some of the more whimsical details included in the song.”

“With that carol in mind,” noted Jeff, “I suggest pairing the majesty of the Banquet Hall and its 35-foot-tall Fraser fir Christmas tree with our Biltmore Tree Raising Wine Trio that includes Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine, Christmas at Biltmore White Wine, and Biltmore® Reserve Rosé North Carolina. That way, you can sip and savor throughout the 12 days of Christmas!”


Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Gewürztraminer + Here We Come A’Wassailing

Biltmore wine with mulling spices
Perfect pairings: Biltmore wines go a-wassailing!

Next door in the elegant Breakfast Room, Cristy Leonard interpreted Here We Come A’Wassailing, another traditional English carol of the season, with “vanilla and spice” hues that echo the ingredients in a seasonal wassail drink.

“I loved selecting a lot of copper, cream, and gold-colored ornaments to follow the theme of the carol,” the floral designer noted. “I think our guests will be dreaming of sipping a welcoming cup of wassail after their visit!”

Jeff agrees with that tasty description, and suggests that our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Gewürztraminer makes a lightly sweet and aromatic pairing. “For a richer, deeper flavor to spice up a winter’s evening,” he said, “go a’wassailing with our award-winning Biltmore Estate® Cabernet Sauvignon.”


Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina + Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Bottle of Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and two glasses
Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is aged 18 months in oak

This year, Don Holloway is responsible for the Christmas décor in the Library, and he chose to interpret the room with inspiration from Jolly Old St. Nicholas, a lively carol that’s sure to set a cheerful mood.

“I chose classic reds, greens, and golds for this room that houses nearly half of George Vanderbilt’s collection of more than 23,000 volumes,” said Don, “but I also allowed the playfulness of the song to shine through, lightening the formal tone of the Library.”

“It’s easy to imagine Mr. Vanderbilt here by the crackling fire, his beloved St. Bernard named Cedric napping by his side, waiting for jolly old St. Nicholas to arrive,” Jeff said. “I think that’s a worthy pairing with Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina—an outstanding wine handcrafted from estate-grown grapes.”


Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs + Joy to the World

Bottles of Biltmore wine on a table
Celebrate the season with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine

Inspired by Joy to the World, the most-published Christmas carol in America, Joslyn Kelly, Floral Designer, created a monochromatic magenta color scheme for the Christmas décor in Edith Vanderbilt’s room.

“I wanted a unique seasonal complement to Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom because it has such a distinct look to it,” said Joslyn, “from the purple and gold hues of the wall coverings and draperies to the beautiful furnishings and the remarkable oval design of the ceiling.”

Jeff suggests that you allow the sweet strains of the joyful carol that Joslyn chose to bubble up into a perfect pairing with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. “Let’s raise a glass to Mrs. Vanderbilt,” he said, “who definitely added joy to the world with her gracious hospitality for the holidays.”


Vanderbilt Reserve wines
Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with Christmas carols!

Vanderbilt Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir + O Holy Night

Inspired by the beautiful words of O Holy Night, Kyla Dana, Floral Supervisor, selected translucent, jewel-toned decorations to complement the rich, vibrant colors of the recently restored Oak Sitting Room.

“The carol has a worshipful tone,” said Kyla, “and that led me to think about All Souls Cathedral and the Vanderbilt family’s ties there, so I chose ornaments reminiscent of stained glass to adorn their private sitting room.”

As a perfect partner for pairing with this carol, Jeff suggests our Vanderbilt Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

“It’s an exceptional wine that’s still very approachable,” said Jeff, “It starts out soft and lovely, then soars, and then it lingers with you, much like the notes of O Holy Night.”


Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec + Canta, Rie, Bebe

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec on a tray with candles
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec

Floral team member Lesley Tobar created the design for the Louis XV Hallway. She pulled in shades of red, pink, blue, and pewter to portray the energetic beat of Canta, Rie, Bebe (Sing, Laugh, Drink), a traditional Spanish Christmas carol.

“This hallway provides access to the Damask Room, Claude Room, Tyrolean Chimney Room, and Louis XV Room—the grand guest bedrooms of the magnificent Louis XV Suite,” said Lesley, “and it also showcases a wonderful painting entitled Rosita by Spanish painter Ignacio Zuloaga.”

For Jeff, this is the perfect Christmas carol to pair with the bold flavors of Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec, “This spicy, award-winning wine has Spanish origins, just like the artist who painted the intriguing portrait of Rosita that graces the hallway,” said Jeff.

Celebrate the season with Biltmore wines

We hope you’ve enjoyed our perfect pairings with Biltmore wines and Christmas carols. You can find our award-winning wines—and everything else you need to celebrate the season—with our holiday hospitality guide: Seasoned with Cheer.

Top 10 Staff Favorites for Christmas at Biltmore

What are the top 10 staff favorites for Christmas at Biltmore? Among the multitude of joys experienced during the holiday season at America’s Largest Home®, we’ve collected a special list to inspire your imagination and assist with gift giving.

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine and gourmet food

“Many of our staff members have been part of the Biltmore family for decades, but their joy and wonder during the holiday season never fades,” said Terri Koestler, Senior Director of Employee Experience. “From festive food and drink to mementos and special moments, these top 10 staff favorites offer a special glimpse into our employees’ perspectives.”

Our holiday legacy continues

On an unforgettable Christmas Eve in 1895, more than 20 members of George Vanderbilt’s family gathered at Biltmore House for the first time. Their awestruck delight has been repeated throughout the decades as today’s guests experience Biltmore during the holidays.

Here’s how even our long-time Biltmore staff members catch the spirit of the season every year:

1. Laura’s favorite: the sounds of music

Staff favorites: Harpist playing in the Third Floor Living Hall
A harpist plays Christmas carols in the Third Floor Living Hall

Laura Cope, Collections Manager, ensures the proper care of Biltmore’s priceless furniture, art, and objects. An avid music lover, she enjoys the talented musicians who play at Biltmore–especially at Christmastime.

“I always get sentimental at Christmas when I hear a harp play inside Biltmore House,” she raid. “To hear What Child is This? or The Nutcracker Suite within these beautifully decorated rooms really gives you a sense of what guests of Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt would have experienced. It’s something that I look forward to every year!”

2. Jeff’s favorite: going a-wassailing

Biltmore wine with mulling spices
Perfect pairings: Biltmore wines go a-wassailing!

“Love and joy come to you” are among the New Year wishes sung in this traditional Christmas carol, and Jeff Jones, Carriage House Supervisor, enjoys the song’s warm sentiment while sipping a cup of spicy wassail.

“Nothing tastes as much like Christmas as a cup of wassail,” said Jeff. “It’s not just one of our staff favorites—our guests love it as soon as they sample it in our estate shops!”

According to Jeff, all three varieties of Biltmore’s Wassail Spice Blend can season your favorite wine, cider, or other hot beverage with cheer during the holidays and all year round.

3. Staff favorites: party starters

Staff favorites: Biltmore cheeseball and wine
Make entertaining easy with Biltmore’s delicious cheeseball and dip mixes

Another staff favorite? The ability to bring a bit of Biltmore elegance to any holiday gathering with our best-selling gourmet cheeseball and dip mixes.

With festive options such as Christmas at Biltmore Cranberry Pecan Cheeseball Mix, along with traditional crowd favorites like Biltmore® Spinach Dip Mix, no more than two additional staple ingredients are needed for a quick and easy way to let the fun begin!

4. Staff favorites: dazzling “decorations”

Staff Favorites: Oaken Necklace by Southern Gates®
Drawn from elements in Biltmore House, the Oaken Necklace by Southern Gates® is a favorite with staff and guests!

Biltmore staff members carry the legacy of the estate close to their hearts at Christmastime and beyond by wearing a piece of Biltmore-inspired jewelry or choosing it as a gift for someone special.

Staff favorites include collections by CRISLU, ALEX AND ANI®, and Southern Gates® that feature tiny tokens of timeless luxury found at the estate and highlight some of Biltmore’s most memorable features using precious gemstones and custom-designed charms.

5. Hannah’s favorite: wrapping up gift giving

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon make wonderful gifts for the holidays

As Visual Assets Coordinator, Hannah Parks sees the beauty of Biltmore through photographs and videos, including places that guests rarely visit, like the vineyards on the west side of the estate.

“I’m excited that the 2019 vintages of Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Franc North Carolina and Biltmore Reserve® Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina have been released just in time for the holidays,” said Hannah. “Not only are they two of my all-time favorite Biltmore wines, but the fact that they are handcrafted from estate-grown grapes makes them really wonderful local gifts. I’ve already bought several bottles to share with friends and family, and I may go back for more!”

6. Kyle’s favorite: the nicest spices!

Perfect pairings include wine and meatballs
Enhance all your Biltmore Grown® Beef selections with Spicewalla® Rubs

Many Biltmore staff members are fans of Spicewalla, a home-grown Asheville business that has gained worldwide attention for its unique small-batch spice blends.

“To complement your holiday meals, I suggest the robust rubs that Spicewalla has created especially for the estate’s Biltmore Grown® Beef selections, including Biltmore Grown Brisket Rub, Biltmore Grown Steak Rub, and Biltmore Grown Burger Rub,” said Kyle Mayberry, Director of Agriculture for the estate.

7. Courtney’s favorite: sipping and savoring all year-round

Women with Vanderbilt Wine Club shipment
Give someone special the gift of membership in our Vanderbilt Wine Club®

According to Courtney Miller, Wine Club Manager, membership in the Vanderbilt Wine Club® is a fabulous gift for a loved one, or a decadent one for yourself!

“Surprise someone special with a gift membership that lasts for 12 whole months,” Courtney said. “You’ll definitely be on their ‘nice list’ every time a seasonal shipment arrives!”

Wine Club members receive their preference of red wines, white wines, a mix of red and white wines, or sweet wines each season along with tasting notes and chef-inspired recipes, plus exclusive access to special discounts, promotions, and invitations to members-only special events. 

8. Staff favorites: seasonal spreads

Sideboard filled with Biltmore wine, spreads, and dips
Delight your guests with gifts of good taste, including Biltmore’s jams, jellies, spreads, and syrups

Just as the Vanderbilts loved to host and entertain family during the holidays, our staff knows how to show hospitality to their own Christmas guests with more than two dozen gourmet flavors of Biltmore jams, jellies, preserves, honey, and syrups that delight at the breakfast table, enhance a charcuterie board, and make perfectly delicious gifts throughout the season—especially when paired with Biltmore wines!

9. Staff favorites: crowdsourcing our Christmas wine labels

Facebook fans helped choose the labels on Biltmore Christmas wine
The 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wines makes a perfect gift for someone special

Since 2018, Facebook followers of Biltmore have weighed in on the one-of-a-kind labels found on our bottles of Christmas at Biltmore’s Red and White Wines. This year, our employees couldn’t be happier that one of their own—Craig Sponseller, who works in Mail Services—was chosen to create the original artwork.

Our Biltmore staff members love giving these special bottles as thoughtful hostess or Christmas gifts, and many buy an extra bottle for themselves as a collectible keepsake.

10.  Brent’s favorite: raising the Banquet Hall Christmas tree

Celebrate Biltmore's tree-raising tradition virtually
Raising the Banquet Hall Christmas tree is a guest and staff favorite tradition at Biltmore

The rooms of Biltmore House will be filled more than 60 hand-decorated Christmas trees this year, but the one that stirs the hearts and imaginations of our guests and staff members the most is the 35-foot-tall fresh-cut Fraser fir in the tapestry-lined Banquet Hall.

Brent Merrell, Director of Engineering Services, oversees the installation of the towering tree. “Every year, we experience excitement mixed with some nerves on the day we bring in the massive tree, which weighs 2,500 to 3,000 pounds,” explained Brent. “The tree-raising is virtual again this year, but this tradition is always a staff favorite because it truly marks the beginning of the Christmas season at Biltmore.” 

What are your top 10 favorites for Christmas at Biltmore?

Our employees, both new and seasoned, enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for this special time of year with our guests. We hope you will join them and create your own top 10 list of favorites during Christmas at Biltmore!

Find everything you need to season your celebrations with cheer at Biltmore, or from the comfort of home with the convenience of online shopping at biltmoreshop.com.

Pick Perfect Pairings For Seasonal Celebrations

It’s that time of year when you want to pick perfect pairings for your seasonal celebrations, and Biltmore’s holiday hospitality experts are ready to help you!

“For more than 125 years, Biltmore has been sharing our expertise in gracious entertaining,” said Jill Whitfield, Senior Wine Marketing Manager. “Whether you’re planning a holiday happening in your home, traveling to Biltmore for a family getaway, or hosting a virtual visit with faraway friends, we’ll help you pick perfect Biltmore wine pairings for all your gatherings.”


Friendsgiving (Saturday before Thanksgiving)

Perfect pairings include wine and meatballs
Enhance all your Biltmore Grown® Beef selections with Spicewalla® Rubs

Traditionally celebrated on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is often a less formal gathering of friends and loved ones, with dishes ranging from traditional to potluck to leftovers.

“If you’re not sure what your host is serving, or if you expect a lot of different dishes, it’s a good idea to have both red and white wines on hand,” Jill said.

Friendsgiving food-and-wine pairing suggestions:


Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November)

Biltmore wines make perfect pairings with your Thanksgiving menu

“Thanksgiving is probably the most food-oriented holiday of the year,” said Jill “and that’s why we created our Thanksgiving Wine Trio featuring three outstanding Biltmore wines to pair with a wide variety of your favorite dishes.”

For a traditional Thanksgiving menu, Jill suggests these perfect pairings with wines from our Thanksgiving Wine Trio:


Hanukkah (November 28–December 6, 2021)

Biltmore Grown Beef Brisket with a bottle of The Hunt
Perfect pairings: The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County and Biltmore Grown Beef Brisket

Known as the Festival of Lights, this Jewish tradition encompasses eight nights of celebration including stories, music, gifts and a variety of special dishes.

“While Biltmore wines are not certified Kosher, we would like to offer pairings that complement the delicious foods that are such an important part of the Hanukkah festivities,” Jill noted.


Winter Solstice (December 21, 2021)

Biltmore wine with mulling spices
Perfect pairings: Biltmore wines go a-wassailing!

The winter solstice marks the start of winter in the northern hemisphere. Many cultures celebrate it in some fashion, although there are no well-established traditions for foods or activities.

“If you’re planning a winter solstice gathering, or just enjoying some star gazing on the longest night of the year, it’s a good time to sip something hearty like our award-winning Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec,” said Jill.


Christmas (December 25)

Perfect pairings with Biltmore wines
Celebrate Christmas with perfect pairings of Biltmore wines and your favorite holiday dishes

“There are as many ways to celebrate Christmas as there are people who celebrate it,” said Jill. “Instead of individual of wine-and-food pairings, we suggest choosing one of our convenient Biltmore wine bundles to have on hand for the holidays. That way, you’ll be able to pick perfect pairings for all your seasonal occasions.”


Kwanzaa (December 26–January 2)

Perfect pairings: pumpkin pie and Biltmore wine

This week-long celebration of African cultures and principles is usually individualized by families or communities, but often includes singing, dancing storytelling, and a bountiful meal on the final night.

“A Kwanzaa menu can incorporate many different foods, with as much emphasis on the sides and desserts as the main offerings,” said Jill. “For that reason, we’ve suggested Biltmore wine pairings with a selection of some of the more traditional dishes.”


New Year’s Day (January 1)

Vanderbilt Reserve wines
Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with Christmas carols!

While New Year’s Eve is all about sparkling wine, the traditional menu for New Year’s Day calls for a bit more than bubbles to bring good luck in the coming months:

  • Pork tenderloin, Hoppin’ John, and collard greens
    • Some bold red wines are too much, while some white wines are too little, so we recommend pairing your New Year’s Day meal with our soft, approachable Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir–it’s just right for the occasion!

Valentine’s Day (February 14)

Ventageo Red Dessert Wine with candles
Set a romantic mood with Ventágeo® Red Dessert Wine

“On this most romantic holiday, there are numerous ways to celebrate, so we’ve listed some wine-and-food suggestions that allow you to pick perfect pairings for your special occasion,” Jill said.

Pick perfect pairings for all your seasonal celebrations!

Find these Biltmore wines for perfect pairings–plus all your other handcrafted favorites–in estate shops, online, and close to home with our Retail Locator.

For more holiday inspiration, visit our Seasoned with Cheer hospitality guide.

Wrap Up Holiday Gift Giving with Biltmore Wines!

When you wrap up your holiday gift giving with Biltmore wines, everyone on your gift list will know how much they mean to you!

Floral designer Hope Wright recently retired from a 23-year career at A Gardener’s Place, the charming gift shop located below the Conservatory in Biltmore’s Walled Garden. We caught up with Hope for some expert guidance on gift wrapping wine to make it even more special.

Bottle of Biltmore wine in a gift bag
Dress up a plain wine gift bag with a bright bow and a tassel or other ornamentation

“I love Biltmore wine and I often give it as a gift, especially during the holiday season,” said Hope. “And while there’s nothing wrong with simply placing a bottle of wine in a gift bag, it’s also nice to wrap it in a creative way that says ‘you’re special’ to your recipient.”

Timeless natural elements

“Here are two easy ideas that look beautiful using a little bit of ribbon and the kind of greenery you can often cut from your own backyard or local park,” Hope said. “It doesn’t take much to make a big impact.”

Crown of ivy

Biltmore Estate Dry Rose wine with a crown of ivy
Create a simple “crown of ivy” for the top of a wine bottle

To create this “crown of ivy” topper for our Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé, Hope clipped an 18-inch strand of small leaf ivy and wrapped it several times around the neck of the bottle, tucking the end of the vine into itself to keep it in place.

She used about 18 inches of narrow, patterned ribbon to tie a simple shoestring-style bow and attached it to the ivy crown with wired twine. “I purposely attached the bow off-center,” said Hope, “so the wine label shows prominently,”

As a finishing touch, Hope clipped the ends of the bow to a length she liked and wound the ends of wired twine into a few whimsical tendrils that complemented the ivy.

Ribbon wrapping

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon wrapped with a ribbon and greenery
This gift-wrapping treatment couldn’t be more simple–or more beautiful!

Hope wrapped a length of burlap ribbon around the bottle just below its mid-section, making sure not to cover up the label on this outstanding Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina. Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, it’s an excellent local item for gift giving.

She used a different type of ribbon to tie a simple bow around the bottle, centering it over the first ribbon for contrast.

“Once you have the ribbons and the bow in place, you can tuck in any type of greenery you like. I used two different colors of arborvitae to create more interest and texture, but sprigs of ivy would work, or a twig with berries–the possibilities are endless!” Hope noted.

Wrap up your holiday gift giving

To wrap these wine bottles for gift giving, Hope used the same wrapping technique on each of them, but varied the wrapping material and trimmings.

Global journey

Wine bottle wrapped in a map
Create serious travel vibes by wrapping a wine bottle in a vintage map

“For the travelers on your gift list, wrap a bottle of wine in a vintage map like this one I found in a thrift store. You’ll need a 24″x24″ section of the map to cover the bottle.”

After wrapping the wine, Hope knotted a length of raffia around the neck of the bottle, then added a simple bow of red ribbon and a bit of greenery for some holiday flare.

Wrap it royally

Biltmore wine bottle wrapped in elegant fabric
Look for rich fabric remnants like this to repurpose for wrapping a bottle of Biltmore wine

“In addition to vintage maps, I look for beautiful fabric remnants that will make gorgeous gift wrap for wines,” said Hope. “Simply wrap the bottle, then tie a coordinating ribbon around the neck–that’s all you need to make it special.”

As a bonus, Hope created an elegant pine tassel to set off the regal look of this wine gift, She clipped enough white pine needles to get a full-looking tassel, hot-glued the tops together, and bound the top with narrow wired twine to hide the glue. While binding the top, she also made a loop of the wired twine to go around the neck of the bottle.

Step-by-step: tea towel wine gift wrap

Collage showing steps for wrapping a wine bottle in a tea towel
To gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel, follow these easy steps

Hope chose a Biltmore tea towel with a Christmas pattern to gift wrap this exceptional bottle of The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County. After fluffing the ends of the tea towel, she tied an elegant bow of wired silk ribbon around the neck.

To make the gift twice as nice, Hope added Biltmore’s annual dated Christmas ornament to the bottle.

“Look at each of steps shown in this instructional collage,” Hope said, “and you’ll see how easy it really is to gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel!”

Gift giving: bundles and baskets

Biltmore cheeseboard, wine, and dip mixes bundled for gift giving
Bundle several items with a similar theme, like this stylish cheeseboard with a bottle of Biltmore wine and a selection of our gourmet mixes and dips

Wrap up a bountiful bundle

“Here’s an easy way to create a bundle of gifts that share a common theme,” said Hope. “This handsome wood-and-slate Biltmore Cheeseboard with Drawer includes a set of three brass cheese knives. I pulled out the hidden drawer and secured the wine bottle to it with a ribbon, then added a stack of delicious Biltmore mixes and dips to the board and tied a wide gold ribbon around the whole bundle.”

For an extra surprise, Hope used the cheese knives as a special topper for the bundle, then tucked a few sprigs of fresh rosemary round them.

“The rosemary is the crowning touch that pulls the culinary theme together,” Hope noted, “and it smells wonderful, too!”

Holiday hospitality in a basket

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine and gourmet food

Who wouldn’t want to receive a basket of holiday hospitality full of Biltmore wine and gourmet goodies, especially when it is embellished with fresh greenery and ribbons?

“For this gift giving example, I chose a medium-sized basket that would easily hold a bottle of Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, a selection of Biltmore mixes and dips, wassail drink spice, seasonings and sauces, and a holiday tea towel,” said Hope.

She lined the basket with a type of honeycomb packaging paper that’s recyclable, and tucked in a few cardboard risers to keep smaller items from falling to the bottom.

Once everything was arranged to Hope’s satisfaction, she filled in the background with magnolia leaves and pine cones, wired an elegant golden bow to the basket’s rim, and balanced the look with a Biltmore Christmas ornament on the other side.

Make holiday gift giving more merry!

Bottles of Biltmore wine wrapped for gift giving
Wrap up your gift giving with Biltmore wines!

“All the ideas I’ve shown here easy to recreate,” Hope said, “and that was my goal. I hope you’ll be inspired to surprise friends and family with special touches like these that make your holiday gift giving even more meaningful.”

Find everything you need to celebrate the season in style–including Biltmore wines and gourmet foods–at estate shops and online at biltmoreshop.com.

Menu Makeover: Updating a 1904 Thanksgiving Meal

Biltmore’s experts have done a complete menu makeover to update the Vanderbilt family’s 1904 Thanksgiving meal.

A food-focused holiday

“Thanksgiving is a food-focused holiday,” said Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation, “and that tradition is as true today as it was in 1904 when George and Edith Vanderbilt celebrated the holiday with a multi-course dinner for family and guests.”

According to Leslie, Biltmore’s archives include a handwritten menu for Thanksgiving Dinner 1904 that features time-honored favorites like turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes, plus more unusual offerings such as cutlets of calves’ brains.

Archival Biltmore House menu book
Archival menu book dated Saturday, November 12, 1904

“While some of those dishes like the cutlets don’t sound as appealing today, they were the height of elegant dining during the Gilded Age,” Leslie said. 

In addition, the original holiday menu topped out at eight courses. That seems like a lot of food to modern diners, but Leslie noted that the portions were fairly small, and it was also common for a formal dinner of the era to last two hours or more.

Fresh takes on classic fare

Knowing how much tastes have changed in the last century, we asked Executive Chef Sean Eckman of The Inn on Biltmore Estate® to look at the 1904 menu and suggest updates for a modern menu makeover on some traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

“There was a real emphasis on meat on the Vanderbilts’ menu—both roast turkey and Virginia ham were served, plus those previously noted calves’ brains,” said Chef Eckman. “While turkey is still the main feature at most Thanksgiving dinners, today’s cooks also give just as much attention to the accompanying dishes.”

Menu makeover: easy appetizer

Salmon rillettes paired with Biltmore wine
Salmon rillettes make an elegant appetizer that’s easy to prepare ahead of time

The Vanderbilts’ 1904 celebration began with oysters on the half shell, followed by “Consomme Royal” and broiled Spanish mackerel. For a more modern adaptation, Chef Eckman kept the seafood theme with an appetizer of Salmon Rillettes.

“This is an elegant appetizer that’s really quite easy—you can even make it a day in advance and chill it until you’re ready to serve with toasted baguettes,” Chef Eckman said.

Wine pairing suggestion: Savor the salmon rillettes with our Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley—it’s a perfect complement for the rich, savory appetizer and a wonderful way to welcome family and friends to the table!

Menu makeover: updating George Vanderbilt’s favorite dish

Roast turkey paired with glasses of Biltmore white wine
Pair traditional roast turkey with Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay

We know from archival information that George Vanderbilt loved roast turkey and it was frequently served at Biltmore. For our modern menu makeover, Chef Eckman recommends brining your bird with our Simple Brined Turkey recipe to ensure you bring the most tender, flavorful turkey to the table. 

Wine pairing suggestion: Enjoy the classic varietal character of our smooth Biltmore Reserve® Chardonnay North Carolina—handcrafted from estate-grown grapes—with your Thanksgiving turkey, on its own, or as part of our Thanksgiving Wine Trio, carefully curated to complement your celebration.

Menu makeover: sensational sides

Thanksgiving menu makeover with green beans
Dress up green beans with brown butter, pancetta, and hazel nuts!

Cranberry jelly and a medley of vegetables appear on the 1904 menu. Our modernized dinner brings brighter flavors to the meal with two styles of cranberry sauce—elegant and easy Red Wine Cranberry Sauce and the sophisticated flavors of Bittersweet Cranberry Sauce—alongside Green Beans with Pancetta and Hazelnut Brown Butter, a dish that elevates green beans to something sublime!

Wine pairing suggestion: While it’s normally considered a bit difficult to pair certain sides with wines, our Thanksgiving Wine Trio, which includes Biltmore Reserve® Chardonnay North Carolina, Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, and Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs covers most options.

Menu makeover: dessert decadence

Thankgiving menu makeover with Pumpkin-Pecan Layer Cake
We think Edith Vanderbilt would have enjoyed this delicious Pumpkin-Pecan Layer Cake!

Cake was one of Edith Vanderbilt’s favorite desserts, so the inclusion of pineapple cake (along with mince pie) on the 1904 menu is not surprising. For our updated interpretation of classic holiday flavors, try our Pumpkin and Pecan Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting—it’s a flavorful combination to round out your holiday meal in style!

Wine pairing suggestion: Uncork the festive bubbles of Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine with a decadent dessert like this and offer a toast to celebrate the occasion.

Bring our Thanksgiving Wine Trio to the table

Menu Makeover with Biltmore Thanksgiving Trio wines
Our Thanksgiving Wine Trio offers perfect pairings for your holiday menu!

Whether your Thanksgiving table is laden with tried-and-true classics or modern new dishes, we hope your holiday is filled with fellowship, good memories, and delicious wine-and-food pairings like our menu makeover options and the following alternate suggestions that work with our Thanksgiving Wine Trio: