The Holidays are in full swing, which means nights filled with eating, drinking and celebrating. The question is, what to drink? For many, regarding wine, this decision is simple. Just buy the cheapest recognizable label.
However, for wine lovers or even just “wine likers” this decision can be a bit more confusing. With so many tastes and preferences to please, picking a wine that everyone will like can be a headache. So in the Holiday spirit, I hope to make this decision a bit easier. These are my recommendations for some great wines to drink for the Holidays.
Let’s start with party wine. Unless you are going to a party where everyone has sophisticated wine tastes, this is not the time to go into the cellar and dust off the prized bottle you have been saving for that right moment. Many times, drinks at parties are a free-for-all. You lay your bottle on the table and the closest person gets the prize. It’s smart to bring a crowd-pleasing style that is drinkable and won’t break the bank. My go-to wine style for just these moments is among the Spanish reds. Some of the most value-driven bang for your buck wines are Spanish. Whether spending $10 or $30, it is easy to find a good Spanish red. My first choice is Rioja, where the grape Tempranillo has its finest representation. Rioja’s are full-bodied wines with bright fruit when young that will develop into deep, hearty, spice driven wine, when aged a bit. It is a crowd pleaser at any budget. Other Spanish red styles like the Jumilla region wines or Spanish Garnacha’s tend to be affordable crowd pleasers as well, so don’t be shy.
Let’s move on to the Holiday meal. Whether you are having poultry or roast beef, the American Holiday table pairs well with many wine styles. You can’t go wrong with California Zinfandel or Pinot Noir from Oregon if turkey is the star at the table. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons make a great pairing with a roast. As for myself, my favorite wine for a Holiday meal is Riesling. Be it sweet or dry, Riesling has enough body and flavor to stand up to the many flavors of the Holiday meal. With sweeter dishes like cranberries and sweet potatoes the vividly perfumed fruit from this grape will surely stand up and not be washed out. At the same time, Riesling’s high acidity will be refreshing next to the fattier dishes like mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. There are three easy to find areas of the world that grow and make world class Riesling: Germany, Alsace region of France, and Washington State. Each area will make both sweet and dry wines, so look to the alcohol percentage as your guide. If it is lower than 10% ABV then it will be sweet, 11-12% the wines will be off-dry, above 12% and the wine will likely be dry. You can usually find decent Rieslings in the $13-$15 range, but if you go up just a little to that $20 range you can find an excellent wine.
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