Lettie Teague has planned out a full year of wine in her 2009 Wine Diary (.pdf format). Below, we’ve excerpted her picks, along with recipes, features and many more bottles for each month.
When the ball drops, nothing beats a glass of Champagne (or, this year, a cost-effective sparkler).
F&W’s Champagne Guide (left)
Sparkling wine is also the perfect Super Bowl party pairing. The Dibon Cava Rosado ($15) is a delicious sparkling Spanish rosé that Lettie calls a dream with pigs in a blanket.
For Valentine’s Day, splurge on a bottle of the 2005 Dalla Valle Maya ($200). This beautifully balanced bottling is a classic Napa Cabernet. For the rest of the month, try these two everyday bottles:
2005 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva ($15) An easy-drinking Sardinian red.
2007 Tu Tu Pinot Grigio ($12) A bright California white.
Pairing Chocolate and Wine (above)
Irish wine merchant Peter Dunne “loves Bordeaux in poor vintages,” writes Lettie. In his honor on St. Patrick’s Day, open the 2004 Château Cos d’Estournel ($80)—a good wine in a middling year.
Getting a tax refund? Time for a splurge:
2007 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes ($125) A substantial yet elegant wine from one of Lettie’s favorite producers.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Croatia, “especially its famed Dalmatian Coast, a.k.a. the Croatian Riviera,” writes Lettie. If you can’t make it out, try a few bottles of good Croatian wine. Lettie recommends “lush reds made from the Plavac Mali grape and dry, minerally whites like the 2006 Kozlovic Estate Muscat ($28).”
It’s time to pull out the grill, as well as F&W’s Ultimate Summer Wine Guide.
Comprehensive Grilling Guide (left)
At your Fourth of July picnic, break open some American wines. If you’re on the East Coast, show some local pride with one of these:
Massachusetts 2003 Westport Rivers Brut RJR ($23) The full-bodied signature bottling of a Bay State sparkling-wine specialist.
New York 2006 Peconic Bay Winery Riesling ($18) A minerally Long Island white with lovely apricot notes.
Georgia 2007 Persimmon Creek Vineyards Seyval Blanc ($23) From a hardy hybrid grape, this fruity white is a bit off-dry.
Hot weather practically begs for a chilled wine, like an aromatic German Riesling. Try the 2007 Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett Bernkasteler Lay ($26).
“This is traditionally a month of new beginnings—for schoolchildren and wine drinkers alike,” writes Lettie. “For the former, it means new notebooks and pencils (or, more likely, new laptops); for the latter, it’s time to drink fresh and zingy Sauvignon Blancs from the Southern Hemisphere, particularly from New Zealand and Chile. Try the ’09s from New Zealand producers like Kim Crawford, Cloudy Bay and Babich (Babich is a perennial value); from Chile, look to wineries like Santa Rita, Concha y Toro and Veramonte for always-reliable and well-priced wines.”
Itching to pick some grapes? It’s harvest season, and you can get in on the action in California: 5 Dream Harvest Vacations (left).
Lettie recommends celebrating Thanksgiving with bottles from great winemaking families:
The Drouhins: 2005 Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches blanc ($97)
The Martinellis: 2007 Martinelli Jackass Vineyard Zin ($75)
The Massouds: 2007 Paumanok Vineards Chenin Blanc ($28) (left)
A holiday party is the perfect venue for Champagne—and lots of it. Lettie recommends Henri Billiot, “a big, rich Brut Reserve.” A magnum (the two-bottle size) is $135. Also, don't miss these 10 Top Affordable Champagnes (left).