Snowflake Wine Cylinder by Roost
© Jane Pennells
Here are three of my favorite bottles that I've tasted this year to help you load up your slings:
2006 Domaine Catherine Auther Vin d'Alsace ($14, find this wine) For folks who are into wine esoterica, this white's the one. Made with the Pinot Auxerrois grape, the wine's ridiculously balanced considering everything it has going on-from nutty aromas to citrus and apple flavors. Makes for great winter white drinking.
2008 Roagna Dolcetto d'Alba ($16, find this wine) I fell in love with this wine at a Louis/Dressner tasting and haven't stopped hunting for bottles since. Dolcetto is superb with food because it has easygoing tannins that won't overpower, alongside nice subtle fruit. This bottling has all that and some intriguing earthy notes.
2008 Vinos de Terruõs Siete 7 ($12, find this wine) This Garnacha-Tempranillo blend from Spain's Navarra region is the sort of wine that you don't want to stop drinking. It's like delving into a farm stand basket of blueberries, blackberries and black cherries at the peak of the season, with enough acidity to keep the wine vibrant on your tongue. And the truly wonderful surprise is that it costs less than $15.
© Jay Penni
© Jay Penni
This year BUILT released a new snappier version of the bag in fish-netted neoprene, which brings me to my third day of 12 Days of Wine Bags. These bags come in a few different colors and cost only $14—perfect for impromptu host gifts.
© Kate Mathis
Now that the holiday season is fully upon us and we’re all schlepping wine to this party and that party, I thought it might be useful to call out 12 really great wine totes—one every day, for the next 12 days—for all of your holiday wine-carrying needs.
I discovered this first one, from Maptote, at the Brooklyn Flea a few weeks back. Beyond Bordeaux, they company also makes Rioja, Tuscany and Napa Valley designated bags—as well as one for Manhattan and one for Philadelphia, which I never knew were burgeoning wine regions! They’re $12 apiece and make terrific gifts. Just be sure to order a couple for yourself, too.
I was on the Today Show over the weekend, suggesting wines not just for the big Thanksgiving meal but all the other activities that go on this week—parades, football games, recovering after being mashed and jostled at the mall, you name it. The clip isn't up yet, but here's a link to my November column, which was the spur for it.
That got me thinking that I should recommend a few other worthwhile wines to hunt down in the remaining couple of days—affordable bottles that will pair well with a wide range of foods, which is pretty much what Thanksgiving is all about (since turkey itself doesn't taste like a whole heck of a lot).
From Spain's Rias Baixas region, Albariño is a terrific food wine, crisp and refreshing, with a kind of saline minerality and juicy citrus notes. I was there recently, and among the wines I liked were the fragrant, focused 2007 Pazo San Mauro Albariño ($17 or so) and the complex, stony 2007 Do Ferreiro Albariño ($22 or so, find this wine). Another good white option would be the 2007 Hugel & Fils Gewurztraminer($18 or so, find this wine). It's less florid and in-your-face than many Alsace Gewurzes, instead dry and crisp with a little white pepper note at the finish.
I also tasted through a heap of California Chardonnays the other day, with almost universally disheartening results. Most of them seemed blocky and blob-like, with too much oak and too much alcohol—the kind of wine that beats up your food rather than partnering with it. But, for a splurge, I did find the 2007 Lynmar Quail Hill Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) extremely impressive, its clean peach character succulent and inviting, with soft creamy lees and oak spice notes.
In reds, a couple of recent discoveries in the tasting room were the 2007 Pulenta Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($25), a lush mouthful of blackberry fruit from Argentina with just enough light herbal character to keep it from being a fruit-bomb, and the 2006 Mazzoni Toscana Rosso ($16, find this wine), a firm-spined, tart, cherry-inflected blend of 72% Sangiovese and 28% Merlot from, well, Tuscany. As the name suggests.
Finally, you have to have a value pick for turkey-day, and this year I'm in favor of the 2007 Vinum Cellars PETS Petite Sirah ($13 or so, find this wine). It's smoky and toasty, with that classic dark, spicy Petite Sirah fruit—think of a melange of blueberries, black plums and blackberries. Very drinkable, and a good deal, too.
1. Be worldly—follow the Swedish tradition of eating birthday cake for breakfast on your birthday.
2. Drink a cocktail before party guests arrive—it'll loosen you up and make you a better hostess.
3. Be a gracious and unflappable hostess, unperturbed by spilled wine or a crying child. Note: See #2, which will help.
4. Lottery tickets make great place cards—that’s one way to make it to Park Avenue.
5. Note for next year: Hand out to-go wine cups for parents accompanying trick-or-treaters on Halloween.