Wendy Li and Frank West of Coastal Wine & Brew have the perfect recommendations for wine gifts and menu pairings.

‘Tis the season for gift-giving and mixing and mingling. What better way to do both than with fine wines? Wendy Li and Frank West, owners of Coastal Wine & Brews, offer guidance on holiday wines for entertaining and gifting.


Following their passion for sharing fine wines, delicious craft beers and friendship with their new community, Li and West opened Coastal Wine & Brews in 2017. Located on East 2nd Street in Ocean Isle Beach, Coastal is the first of its kind on the island and has a well-earned reputation for the quality of its extensive wine offerings — more than 350 world-class wines to be exact. They also carry a wide range of North Carolina craft beers.

The knowledgeable staff at Coastal Wine & Brews can answer any of your questions and help you select just the right wines for entertaining or gifts. Holiday gatherings can include casual get-togethers with appetizers to full traditional sit-down dinners, and knowing what wines to serve can be tricky. “Because there are so many flavors going on, the important thing to remember is not to serve wines that overpower the food,” Li says.


Depending on the number of courses, and the main dishes prepared, a safe bet is to serve two whites and two reds. “But there are no real rules set in stone, so when all else fails, serve what makes everybody happy,” Li says. Start with the whites. A sparkling wine pairs with everything and complements a first course of appetizers.

For traditional holiday dinners that include turkey, ham or roast beef as the main entrées, West suggests pairing “with a chenin blanc and a chardonnay, both whites, and lighter reds like pinot noir or Rhone-style red blends.” If you go the less traditional route and serve a rib roast, a bolder, richer, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon is an excellent pairing.

When it comes to serving wine with dessert, Li says the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. If not, the wine will taste sour. “I suggest a moscato or a late-harvest riesling or a port,” she says.


Wine is a popular gift this time of year, and if you aren’t sure whether the recipient prefers red or white, West recommends bringing one of each or going for something that is unusual. Because wine is so accessible at grocery stores and even convenience stores, pick something that isn’t as common. For a chardonnay, consider Prescription or Rombauer and for a cabernet, try Silver Oak, Venge or Catherine. All of these options are at varying price points to fit any budget.


Coastal Wine & Brews offers a Wine Club membership that makes a great holiday gift for the wine lover on your list. There is no membership fee, just a two-bottle-a-month commitment at your selected price point. While you are there, check out their Pay it Forward board. What started as a Secret Santa board has become an entertaining part of every visit in which patrons can buy a drink in advance for someone using amusing and creative descriptions.

Want to try it?
Coastal Wine & Brews
20B East 2nd Street, Ocean Isle Beach
(910) 393-2125

Photography by Laura Glantz