Holidays: that 6 week stretch of consumerism and indulging. Wine plays such a natural part of that celebrating, gathering and feasting, that it’s probably wise to have some perspective on how to spend your already stretched dollar.
Hosting a party? Great move! Pigs in the blanket? Check. Crudite? Check Turducken? Check. The baseline festive beverage of choice should be wine. This way everyone can have a great time in moderation. How do you shop for your party? How many wines do you offer? Unless you are a real wine geek, I suggest you keep it simple, Go with a dry white, a couple of dry Reds, and maybe an off-dry wine (please no White Zinfandel). You can get some great party wines for around $10-$12/ bottle, and most local wine shops offer case discounts that will save you 10%. Don’t attempt this on your own; seek professional experience assembling the lineup. The best advice I can give is to place trust your wine merchant. Their career is built upon trying to find you the best wine for the money. They carry brand names because they have to, but if you want to see their face light up, utter the following phrase “I trust you”, and you will be rewarded. Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget. Some general guidelines though, should you decide to go it alone: When choosing a white, keep the acid in moderation. I love a great Sauvignon Blanc, but high acid whites need food, and sometimes these gatherings are more about conversation than sitting down and eating. Chardonnay is always safe (avoid oaky-
Ok. Your party is over and now you want to buy something special for your friends and associates. How do you select something that will be appreciated, remembered and ultimately consumed? Set your budget; know something about their wine preferences, then try to find them something that is a discovery. Often a gifted wine that is gifted is the “gifters” favorite wine, because they want everyone to love it as much as they do.But remember, just because you like it doesn’t mean everyone else will like it, everyone has different palates. Let’s say your friend loves Napa Cabs. Well, you could try to find a Napa Cab they haven’t had, but if they’re astute, they may have beaten you to the punch. The best strategy is to take a style or region, and find a twist. Syrah is a great alternative to Cabernet, and very few people have explored this varietal as deeply as Cabernet, and they have great versions in
Finally, you’ve taken care of wine for others and now it’s time to personally enjoy the holidays with wine for you and yours. What goes with holiday fare? Everything. This isn’t really true, at least not from a culinary standpoint, but at some point, it’s important to just drink great wine without putting any importance on it. Great wine goes best with great times, friends and family. Open something old or new, just make sure you have a great time and happy holidays!