Though the pandemic restricts us in our holiday options, don’t quarantine good wine
Christmas feasting may look different this year, but good wine pairings don’t need to be social distanced. Here are my top picks for good wines that go on a holiday table. Whether you’re roasting the ham or just eating mac and cheese, good wine is good wine. And to celebrate the end of 2020, perhaps we all get a pass if we just want some take out and splurge on the vino.
Top Choice for Red Wine: Ridge Three Valleys
Sonoma County is where the real wine from California’s wine region comes from – or so I was told by many winos. And though I love the bold, single varietals of new world California wines, I truly respect winemakers who know how to blend their grapes.
Ridge Three Valleys combines the following: 72% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, 10% Carignane, 4% Mataro. So with a Zinfandel base, it’s a bold heavy wine that’s tempered by some more fragrant grapes. I can’t stand weak French blended wines that are heavy on the price tag. So this checks off all the boxes for me.
I find California wines to be more ‘social’ wines because they can stand better on their own as a drink without a food pairing. So as you lounge around the house with your tiny quarantine bubble or can’t fit plates of food in front of a Zoom holiday party, it’s better to have a wine that can just be sipped with minimal food as distractions.
It also scores very high among the tastemakers:
93 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
93 Points – Anthony Dias Blue, Blue Lifestyle
92 Points – Wine Spectator
Here’s how Ridge describes the wine on their site: Ruby-garnet red color. Pungent cherry and raspberry fruits, sweet oak, and complex minerals. Intense cherry fruit entry, ripe plum, lively acid, and exotic spices and barrel toast. Tannins are supple and coated by appealing fruit. Wonderfully long finish.
Top Choice for White Wine: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc
There is only one region for Sauvignon Blanc: New Zealand. Who says? Says me and thousands of other fans of the grassy, fruity, herbal notes of this choice white wine. If you’ve never tasted a field of grass and flowers in your white wine, you haven’t had wine in my humble opinion. It’s like drinking in sunshine and a summer afternoon. I don’t even remember the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had because it was probably poured by someone with greater access to family winemakers that command higher price tags than I can afford. But for accessibility, consistency and value, Villa Maria wins. It will take you to the fields and it has all of the berries and grassy hills in a glass.
This is how Villa Maria describes its Sauvignon Blanc: Sourced from vineyards across the Marlborough region, this intense Sauvignon Blanc is alive with a myriad of flavours dominated by gooseberry, passionfruit, fresh citrus and herbaceous aromas.
intense and alive with herbaceous aromas
Top Choice for Sparkling Wine: Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Cuvée Brut
No offense, but I can’t stand Australian wines except for this sparkling wine by Wolf Blass. There’s something about Australian wines and South African wines that seem dehydrated or lacking in the floral notes. Perhaps that’s why this champagne knock off is great because it is DRY. And dry with a touch of fruit tastes expensive to me. But this sparkling wine ain’t pricey.
In the summer, it’s the best option for ruby red grapefruit mimosas. Or blood orange mimosas. And on its own, it holds its own for caviar and blinis. But at Christmas time when you want the champagne to flow flow flow? It’s perfect.
Here’s how Wolf Blass describes it on their site: Full-bodied in style, with generous apple and melon characters and a soft, creamy mouthfeel. Refreshing and flavorsome, with a crisp, lingering finish.
Top Choice for Rosé Champagne: Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial
Let’s be honest, this is just for the wow party factor. If you have to signal that you spent some money on a branded champagne that comes in the wine world’s version of a Tiffany’s box, then you have to include Moët & Chandon’s Rosé Imperial. For festivity’s sake the pink color dazzles. And for those who insist on drinking rosé, let them have it in a sparkling version. There’s something gauche about regular rosé at a holiday party.
As for the taste? Who cares? You’re drinking the brand dahling. And it’s pink so it’s a tongue in cheek libation. Plus, it won’t compete with your really rich friend who brought over the truly good champagne from some winery you’ve never heard of.
But if you must know, here’s how Moët & Chandon describes the champagne on their site: Rosé Impérial is a spontaneous, radiant, romantic expression of the Moët & Chandon style, a style distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity.
TASTING NOTES: A glowing colour | Pink with amber highlights | A bewitching bouquet | A lively, intense bouquet of red fruits (wild strawberry, raspberry, cherry) | Floral nuances of rose | A slight hint of pepper
Are they selling champagne or makeup?
So there you have it! Our 2020 picks for top wines to pair with your holiday celebration. Whether it’s for one or on a Zoom gathering, stay safe and healthy please. And if you want to try a wine club that only picks out the best 90 point wines from around the world, check out Ninety Plus Cellars. They’ll ship right to your door.