An apéritif is a pre-dinner drink meant to stimulate the appetite. However, at holiday parties, they can do even more. A thoughtful apéritif—offered the minute your guests walk through the door—helps everyone switch from holiday-hurry mode to party mode. It’s a gracious glassful that gets conversations going and lets everyone know they’re in for a lovely time at your place.
Bright, enticing Riesling and sparkling wines both work splendidly as apéritifs. Choose bottles from Washington State or Spain, and you can find some excellent values while you’re at it.
In the bubbly realm, Spain reigns when it comes to offering the most panache for the cash. Look for cava—sparkling wines produced using the same demanding method required for French Champagne, yet priced for hosting a houseful.
- Cristalino Brut ($9)
- MPX Mas de Monistrol Brut ($12)
- Paul Cheneau Brut Blanc de Blancs ($15)
- Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut ($17)
Rieslings from Washington State
Rich fruit, fascinating floral notes and an admirable price tag distinguish these Washington Rieslings. Their dynamic pear, apricot and peach flavors flirt with sweetness, yet a vivid freshness keeps them in balance, making them lively partners for those salty little pre-dinner snacks so often served around the holidays.
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling ($9)
- Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling ($10)
- Kung Fu Girl Columbia Valley Riesling ($12)
- Cupcake Yakima Valley Riesling ($14)
By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist. This article appeared originally in the Dec. 2009 issue of Relish.