Sometimes for big holidays it is good to stay in. So you can open a great bottle of wine and share it in intimate company. So herewith are some solid suggestions of great wines with which to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
Spoil them with Champagne. This is always a high-end note to start on. Delamotte and Ayala are two of my favorites. They are both crisp, fresh and food friendly. Without a doubt they also cost much less than some better-known, more commercial brands.
If you want to take it step down, in terms of price point, think of sparkling alternatives from France, Italy and even the United States. Cavas from Spain can be nice, high-end Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) Proseccos from Franciacorta and Asolo are even better and there are great sparkling wines being produced domestically in the U.S. as well.
The Update on Sparkling Wine
While California is making some great bubbles—in regions like Carneros and Mendocino— there are often other great sources of sparklers in places like New Mexico: believe it or not. A family with roots in Champagne started up a little winery called Gruet in New Mexico.
While they are relatively private, their wines are splendid and incredibly affordable: think $16.99 a bottle in many regions. Their Blanc de Blancs, made of Chardonnay, and rosés are delicious and elegant.
Champagne is a wine designation given only to wines produced within that region. They have their own finesse and style, however the rest of France excels at producing sparkling wines from a variety of grapes. Two of my favorite regions are the cool-climate areas of the Loire Valley and Alsace, the later of which is close to the border with Germany. Many of these wines are made with the off-dry Chenin Blanc grape varietal.
Franciacorta is one of Italy’s top bubbles and Bellavista’s rosé is impressive. Keep in mind the that two DOCG regions of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and the neighboring Asolo are where some of the best sparkling wines are made in Northern Italy.
Ramp Up with Rosé and Red
Pale, yet vibrant, rosés are perfect for dinners at home. While Provence—in Southern France—has stolen much of the spotlight in recent years, some of my favorites have been coming out of regions like Bordeaux and Lake Garda in Northern Italy. Chiarettos from Garda have an amazing salinity to them and hence pair well with a wide range of foods. One of my favorites that is easily available in the States is Le Fraghe.
You could practically pair them with anything from steak tartar to Turkish-inspired dips made of chickpeas and pomegranate syrup. These wines are usually made from a mix of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes which are generally grown in the region to produce red wine.
Angelo Peretti, director of the Bardolino wine consortium, says that these wines are selling more and more throughout the year and noted in a recent interview that rosé sales tend to be more challenging in Italy than other countries. Few of the Chiarettos I have tasted and adored are currently available in the United States.
However there are many other charming Italian reds that will fit the bill for the occasion. One of my favorites is Produttori del Barbaresco’s wines. They are among the best cooperatives in the country and make brilliant, and elusive, Barbarescos. Keep in mind that this region is contiguous to Barolo and makes less-intense, and often, better value wines.
There are so many great wines out there that there’s no need to fret about what to open for the holidays. The choices are abundant.