The Event
Choosing the Best Holiday Wines
© by Sheral Schowe
Once the holiday season begins, there seems to be no end to the parties, the dinners, the gatherings, and the buffets. If you are in charge of the wine selection, from the first delicious meal down to the leftovers, there are quite a few cost effective selections from which to choose that are sure to enhance every wonderful bite that you have painstakingly prepared.

There are a few rules of thumb that I use in selecting wines for these complex holiday feasts. For appetizers of many flavor, texture, and ingredient combinations, I choose a no-fail sparkling wine, or if the budget allows, a French Champagne. My favorite selections include Paul Cheneau Blanc De Blancs Spanish Cava ($8.15), Mumm Blanc de Blancs and Mumm Blanc de Noirs, and Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs. One of the most reasonably priced French Champagnes, and an excellent choice for any food, is Pol Roger Brut NV ($39.10).

If you are still in the process of preparing the stuffing or the gravy for the turkey, try adding some Spanish sherry. For the past 10 years, I have used Emilio Lustau Dry Amontillado ($14.85) in the gravy, the mushroom and pinenut stuffing, and in the mushroom soup.

For your turkey soup with an herbaceous broth base, topped with fresh herbs, there is nothing better than a sauvignon blanc. The 1997 Kenwood is a good choice. It has 15% semillon in the blend and is not overoaked. If you really want to stay away from those oaky buttery flavors, try a French sauvignon blanc. The 1996 Colour Volant is an incredible bargain for $6.95. I also enjoy the 1997 Reverdy Sancerre ($17.95). Turkey casserole will be a gourmet feast when paired with Carmenet’s sauvignon blanc, Semillon Meritage.

The Nouveau Beaujolais are really spectacular this year. At Deer Valley’s annual celebration last Sunday, three selections were offered. The Georges Du Boeuf was full of bright cherry flavors. The flavor lingered in the glass for the duration of the meal. The Bouchard Pere et Fils was a little oaky in the nose at first, with no apparent fruit. It had a nice acid finish which was the best choice to cut through the richness of some of the pates, rillets, meats, and cheeses. The Italian Zenato Bardolino was bright, racy, and exciting, full of fruit and flavor. Each of these wines are excellent choices for your holiday buffet table. They are simple, fresh, fruity wines which are pleasing to most wine drinkers.

For a more serious dinner setting filled with many flavor complexities, choose a Spanish Tempranillo from either the Rioja or the Duero regions. Try La Rioja Alta Alberdi, Marques de Caceres, Arzuaga, or Murrieta Reserva.

Dec. 2, 1999

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