The holidays are racing toward us like a turkey being chased by a farmer with a hatchet, so it’s time to start thinking about holiday wines. That doesn’t mean just Thanksgiving, though. The holiday season sees more entertaining than any other time of year (a huge percentage of wine is sold in the fourth quarter of the year); a little pre–wine planning isn’t a bad idea. Here are some suggestions I floated on a recent episode of CNBC’s On the Money.
A Rosé for Thanksgiving
I’d like to dispel the myth that rosé is just for summertime drinking. In fact, dry rosés are great Thanksgiving wines, as, walking a nice line between white and red, they go with practically everything on that overloaded table we look forward to. Plus, right now a lot of leftover stock from the summer is on sale in wine stores, which is still drinking perfectly. One good choice: 2014 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé ($14)
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A Dry Riesling for Just About Anything
Dry Rieslings are my go-to whites for holiday parties. They’re light enough to work as an aperitif, and they go fantastically with food as well. Unfortunately, Riesling in the U.S. suffers under the impression people have that all of it is sweet. Not in the slightest; dry versions are crisp and zingy, not in the least bit sweet. An easy tip for finding dry styles is to remember the three As: Austria, Alsace and Australia. The vast percentage of Rieslings from these three regions are dry. Look for: 2013 Hugel Alsace Riesling ($24)
A Pinot for Housewarming or Hostess Gifts
The rise of Pinot Noir’s popularity is remarkable, and it just keeps climbing. A good bottle from California’s Sonoma County or Oregon’s Willamette Valley is an ideal gift to bring to a dinner party, or really any other kind of party. And Pinot also works extremely well as a red wine pour for Thanksgiving. Try this wine: 2013 Benovia Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($38)
A Champagne to Blow Someone Away
Almost literally: Bollinger’s SPECTRE Limited Edition Champagne ($229) comes in an insulated gift box that mimics the look of the grip of a Walther PPK, James Bond’s preferred tool for exterminating bad guys. That would be a big whatever, but the 2009 Bollinger vintage Champagne inside the bottle is terrific: plush from the warmth of the ’09 vintage, but with an elegant citrus edge. (As a general rule, Champagne is always a great gift—not least because it’s endlessly regiftable.)