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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...

Holiday Wines

No excuses, no comments, just an article that the Toledo Free Press ran last week...

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- California versions), but you can wow your guests with a nice Oregon Pinot Gris, White Rhone Blend, or South African Chenin Blanc. For reds, think 2 different style choices. First, something with deep rich fruit and a nice spiciness, like Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Shiraz all of which are great crowd pleasers. Then choose something that has a little more structure like Cabernet and Merlot. Pinot Noir may not be your best choice here simply because it’s nearly impossible to find a decent bottle under $20. You can widen the net to include something imported, because the less you’ve heard of a region, the better the bargain.

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 Napa. Plus, with Syrah, you can get twice as much wine for the money. Or you can take that Cabernet and look for bottlings form other countries; Australia has some great examples of this grape. If you get them something new to them, that will make it memorable. This is a great example of how to use your local wine merchant, with their vast knowledge of all things wine, they will help guide you to find the perfect gift bottle.

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!

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At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Adam,

My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at I am very impressed with the quality of your posts and to that end, I’d like to invite you to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at

Thanks for sharing that article. And congrats on the new little one!


Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant,    

At 1:39 PM, Blogger nerinossa said...


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