Grand holiday meals aren’t the time to bring out those cellar-trophy bottles. With so many great foods starring on your table, your wine should cheer on the festivities, but not steal the show.
And yet, it’s the holidays, so you want to pour something worthy of sharing with your favorite people. With those thoughts in mind, I’ve chosen six bottles that are festive enough for the feasts ahead, yet keep the focus where it belongs: on food, family and friends.
Your Holiday White:
• Adelsheim Pinot Gris 2011 (Willamette Valley, Oregon; $19): This bottle brings everything you want in a holiday white. With crisp apple and creamy pear notes, it’s weighty enough to stand up to rich holiday foods, yet so bright and lively it keeps you refreshed and ready for that next luscious bite.
• Gérard Bertrand “Muscat 10” 2011 (Languedoc-Rousillon, France; $12): Some guests enjoy a little sweetness in their sip—you know who they are. Thrill them with this fresh and fruity bottle that’s rife with delicate peach and orchard-blossom notes. Relatively low in alcohol, it makes a marvelous choice for midday feasts.
Your Holiday Red:
• Ponzi Vineyards “Tavola” Pinot Noir 2010 (Willamette Valley, Oregon; $25): A subtle toasty-vanilla sweetness flirts winningly in this silky, elegant wine. Yet it’s the beam of brightness amidst the dark fruit that you’ll appreciate most when you pour it at your generous table.
• Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot 2008 (Horse Heaven Hills, Washington; $22): This graceful wine has all the dark-fruit appeal that Merlot drinkers love, but with enough structure to mesh well with hearty holiday foods.
Your Holiday Sparkling Wine:
• Taittinger “La Française” Brut Champagne (Champagne, France; $40): For those holiday occasions when only a true French Champagne will do, pour this iconic example. Toasted-brioche and golden-apple notes intertwine amidst steady streams of fine, finesse-filled bubbles.
• Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvée (California; $10): When the guest list grows long—but you want to offer some sparkle nonetheless—this bubbly is a real treat for the price. Find all the lemony-apple qualities you like in a crisp California Chardonnay, in a delightfully effervescent package.
—By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist