Holiday Wines

Holiday Wines

by: Barrett Kepfield, Wine & Beer Buyer

“Ding-Dong,” the doorbell chimes, and you smile smugly to yourself. For the third year in a row, the relatives have arrived early for Thanksgiving, but this year you have not been caught off guard. The table looks perfect, except….THE WINE!  Now, disaster looms and you can hear Aunt Mildred’s complaints running through your mind. Quickly, you run to your mini wine stash in the pantry, and yes, there is some Beaujolais Nouveau from the  Co-op wine tasting event on the 19th, which will go perfectly with turkey. Also hidden is that lovely bottle of Organic Vintners Pinot Noir, another light bodied, low tannin red that will go well with all your menu choices. A bottle of Organic Vintners Chardonnay is also on the shelf, with its lovely buttery taste that will compliment the mashed potatoes and cranberry. An organic Thanksgiving it will be, and triumphantly you notice there are backup bottles of Five Rivers Pinot and Chard that Barrett recommended to you just the other day.

Just as people eat produce seasonally, there are also wines that tend to match the changing weather and food selections. While Pinot Noirs are perfect for Thanksgiving, the colder weather of these later months invokes images of thick soups, hearty chilis, and various other heavier meaty, chill chasing dishes. Cabernet Sauvignon is the royal wine to serve. Its heavy tannins and dark plum blackberry taste are not intimidated by beef and other strong red meats, and the Co-op offers several excellent choices. Concannon Cab is a best seller at an excellent price and also look for Cartilage and Brown’s Cabernet, a personal favorite. In addition, look for the big wooden barrel with Calcu wine from Chile. A blend of Cabernet, Carmenere and Cabernet Franc (a juicy relative of Cabernet Sauvignon), it has a bold body and lovely dark berry lingering finish that positively delights the tastebuds. For those spicy chilis, go with a spicy wine to match–Syrah. Smoky and peppery, Stump Jump Shiraz (the Aussie pronunciation) will keep you warm. Don’t forget the ultimate cold weather wine, Petite Sirah. I suggest Huntington Petite Syrah. Deep, thick, inky and dark, its huge flavor chases away the grayest skies. For Whites, delicate summer Sauvignon Blancs give way to stronger bodied Chardonnays such as the Organic Vintners, or try delicious Maroutte Organic Chard, a French organic.  If you are feeling in a bit of a Chardonnay rut, pick up some crisp, peachy Viognier from Cono Sur (a wonderful environmentally conscious-carbon neutral vineyard in California). Don’t overlook Reislings either, which are among the most versatile wines. If hot curries are your winter cure, pair them with Kung Fu Girl or Clean Slate Reisling, whose light sweetness will offset the spicy bite. A diverse wine, Reislings also have lesser known, drier varieties that go with many different dishes. Look for Furst Reisling from Alsace, its mineral taste and dryness makes it a perfect Thanksgiving choice.

The holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are times for celebration and gatherings, and often call for something out of the ordinary and special to drink. Sparkling wines come to mind. Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy are bubbly, with a light effervescence. But to my mind, Moscato di’Asti holds the place of honor at holiday gatherings as a post-dinner dessert or to be drunk on its own. Sweet and tingling, it enlivens any gathering. New this year is Villa Jolanda’s Moscato Rosé–look for its pale red color and unique bottle. In addition, look for the small bottles of Nievole (Italian for cloud, with its shrouded sun on the label hinting at its light, airy qualities). This is Moscato at its best, with melon, nectarine, and honeysuckle blossom hints, plus its slim size makes it a perfect stocking stuffer. Fine wines make excellent presents –  “don’t whine about Christmas shopping, give wine instead.”  This year, think about giving green. There are numerous organic/sustainable agriculture wines on our shelves. Wineries such as Oko, Releaf and Fair Hills have excellent farming practices and also have strong social commitments to their workers and communities. When you give Green, you give twice.

Finally, as you sit back in your chair exhausted after the last guest has left, remember that the day after Thanksgiving is Oneota’s member sale. All wine and beer is discounted–the perfect chance to restock your cupboard or get that gift shopping done.