What wines will I most enjoy and share with my friends during this holiday season?
I have to first consider that we want to be festive, that the temperature is considerably lower than the norm but also that the economy is down the tube and I want to serve good stuff but break the bank. So armed with a thin wallet, but a reveling attitude, here are my recommendations.
Let’s start with the bubbly: we have to crack a bottle or two to bring in the New Year!
Rosé would be my color, the champagne houses have tremendous inventory after record harvests and they are heavily discounting, Henriot, Piper Heidsick, Roederer and Nicholas Feuillatte are some of the affordable rosés you should toast with.
For the white wine lover, I would definitely avoid chardonnays and rather purchase Rhone varietals like Roussane, Marsanne, Grenache, etc., these wines are lighter in weight and their flavors are more mineral, more of winter fruits like pears and apples and fit the season better.
Of course we have to have reds for our roasts and I recommend the spicier wines that will go great with lamb, duck, turkey and game,
Zinfandel and Pinot Noir fill that bill and will not kill your budget.
If you chose a Zin, try to get one that is produced from older vines, it’ll be spicier and have more character, my pick would be a Gamba, a Seghesio or Ridge to name just a few.
If your pick is a Pinot Noir, gravitate to pinots from Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma Coast or Oregon’s Willamette Valley, they will exhibit more fruit and better weight. I will recommend a Tantara, Hitching Post, Lucia, Brewer Clifton form Northern California or a Ken Wright, Domaine Serene or Chelalem from Oregon, again, just to name a few: you have to trust your favorite wine merchant once you have given him these parameters.
Do not forget to pick up some dessert wines, after dinner, by the fire relaxing or watching the football games it is always nice to sip on a rich glass of 10 or 20 years old Tawny port from Graham’s or Fonseca, I also cherish a nice Ice Wine from our Canadian cousins: Inniskilin or Domaine Pinnacle (for their apple ice wine).
Voila, armed with this list I believe that you are well prepared to affront the rigors of our Southern California Holiday season and the New Year.