Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Wine Christmas: What to bring for a holiday party?

I have often felt like wine purchasing decisions should be based on your family - what you know they will like (or not like) is valuable information.  For Thanksgiving this year, "Johnny Depp" and I were warned that no one drank wine, but it was always made available for the Thanksgiving meal.  As we were the wine-picker-outers, "Johnny Depp" and I spent a lot of time thinking about 2 good wines (a red and a white) that would be universally accepted:

  • something with a varietal name that was well known (like Chardonnay) because most of the company were not wine drinkers,
  • that probably carried a little residual sugar (aka a slight sweetness... because market research shows that the majority of the U.S. population finds wines with a slight sweetness to be preferred), 
  • something clean (because we would be drinking it and know basic defects), 
  • and something under a $15 price point (just in case no one drank the wine...).  

Surprisingly, our choices were a hit, and other than a small volume of the red, everything was enjoyed by all who tried it.  

The above bullet-points are listed to give you an idea for something that would be a sure hit for any party, holiday gathering, or extravaganza where need a wine selected.  And Christmas (...if you are like my family...) is another day where someone brings the wine, it gets cracked open, and the family enjoys.  Use the list - print it out and take it to your local grocery store or wine shop, and give it to a person that works there that can help you select a wine.  As all retailers differ in what they carry, having some basic guidelines can help a person pick something out for you that will be good to try.

Photo From Google Images

Now, I've already recommended mimosas on yesterday's Blog for those who are enjoying an intimate affair with a small brunch.  But if there is a larger family involved, I suggest 3 wines - a red, a white, and a dessert (which I would recommend at least having a red and a white).

  • Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon - This goes very well with traditional beef-based Christmas dinners.  Cabernet Sauvignon also has the advantage of being well recognized as one of the most prestigious varieties in the wine world.  However, this is a dry wine... meaning that there is no sweetness to it.  Make sure that if you purchase this variety, the people you are serving it to will enjoy dry, red wines.
  • White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc - I guess I'm on a Sauvignon Blanc kick, because I find myself purchasing it more and more these days.  However, unless you are a definite lover of New Zealand and Australian Sauvignon Blancs, I would encourage you to try an alternative style from another region.  (The New Zealand and Australian regions produce Sauvignon Blancs that are very acidic and green, which may not be appropriate for the holiday food pairings.)  Many states offer Sauvignon Blancs that are locally produced.  If you want a full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, I already blogged about Provenance 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.  And I recently purchased SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc, but I have a feeling this will be more New Zealand style than Bordeaux style (like I'm recommending).  If worse comes to worse, Sutter Home and Gallo make some semi-sweet Sauvignon Blancs that you can find universally through the U.S.
  • Dessert Wine: A Port - This is a good after dinner sipping wine, but it also goes well with chocolate.  So if there is lots of chocolate around, grab a nice ruby port and pair up.  It will be sure to impress!
Remember, the holidays are to celebrate with loved wines.  The wine is only there to keep the memories alive!  Happy Holidays!

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