November and December are the heaviest wine-buying months of the year. People not into wine—or even alcohol—indulge during the harvest feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas and the bacchanalian excesses of New Year’s.
Insufferable wine aficionados may glorify the virtues of a bottling of an obscure grape. Wine you can’t pronounce, much less purchase, unless your wealthy grandparent enrolled you in the allotment program. Okay, fine. That leaves the rest of us.
We drink wine made in much larger batches—tens of thousands, even millions of bottles—costing from $10 to $30 and available at your local supermarket or wine store. There are brands that cut corners and bottle any juice they can buy by the tanker-truck, but there are scores of makers that create wines of substance made by real people dedicated to consistency and value. You have an excellent chance of enjoying one this holiday season.
E. & J. Gallo—the world’s largest family-owned winery—offers many examples. So do Constellation Brands, Treasury Wine Estates, The Wine Group, and others. Their portfolios may contain labels where massive supply and cheapest are lodestars, but they also produce a plethora of delicious, drinkable, affordable, accessible wines. No reason to blush when you pour them at your holiday table.
Mega winery or mom-and-pop enterprise, fundamentals are the same. Good fruit. Winery skills. Good wine. Jessica Tomei, vice president at Cupcake Vineyards, the largest brand in the U.S. in the $8-11 category, notes: “We have more efficiencies, but it is the same process—just at a larger scale. It’s still agriculture. We’re subjected to weather, drought, smoke—all the different things that are thrown at us during the season.”
Mega-makers strive for consistency. With a nod to The Fantasticks—“Plant a radish. Get a radish. Never any doubt.” Nothing wrong with that. As the seasons of joy cascade upon us, don’t fret when you go safe and familiar for your family festival. All wine should be what you enjoy, not what what some snob tells you to enjoy. If you take away anything from my weekly efforts, let it be that.
• Valdo Floral Rosé Brut NV is a bright, delightful, substantial rosé. Easy drinker that invites you to take another sip, and—at 11.5% ABV—you can. $16-19 Link to my review
• Bota Box Breeze Dry Rosé, California NV fresh red fruits in a low-alcohol, low carbs, refreshing boxed wine. $20-23 (three liters). Link to my review
Last round: People who eat snails must not like fast food.