You celebrate wine. Family members grudgingly acquiesce you know more about it than they do. They anoint you to select and, if they are deviously clever, to buy wine for a festive family meal. This is the season for such repasts and such familial strategies.
Boldly inserting drama, your brother-in-law tsktsks [cq] turkey and grandiloquently boasts he is cooking filet mignon, lobster tail and king crab legs. Then he challenges you, the “so-called family wine expert,” to match wine with his ostentatious fete fare.
Relax. What seems a difficult pairing puzzle has an easy solution. Bubbly goes with everything. Depending upon your bank account, ego, and sibling rivalry parameters, you have several options.
You can go passive-aggressive with Spanish cava—matching his high-dollar cow-crustacean play with a value pour to remind everyone you are the fiscally responsible sibling (some may mumble “cheap”).
Or, you can counter with a patriotic proffering: sparkling wine from New Mexico, New York, or California. It’s American. It’s good. It matches bubba-in-law’s flaunt in financial and palate terms. Praise his cooking as you crack crab and hum “God Bless America.”
Or you can do “I’m all in, dude” with bottles of haughty French Champagne, stuff that swallows Benjamins without a burp. “I’ll see your filet-lobster-crab brag and raise you a Bollinger. We’ll see how momma scores this.” This particular gambit is not much fun when you are the actor, but delightful when you are the eating and drinking audience.
• Freixenet. Black bottle from Spain (about $8): Wide selection of clean, crisp, value buys. Segura Viudas is another Spanish value winner (about $9).
• Gruet. Hecho in New Mexico, multiple styles (about $15): Demi-Sec—sweet, smooth, sip with dessert; Extra-Dry—peaches, snippet of sweet; Rosé—fruity, strawberries; Brut—green apple, crisp, dry classic; Blanc de Noirs—complex flavors.
• Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley NV. Apple nose; spice, cinnamon, pear; dry, rich, smooth, complex; drinks like bottle twice price. $25
• Bollinger Blanc de Noirs Vielles Vignes Francaises. Around $400. Invite me to the meal.
Last round: Couple enjoying wine. She: “I love you and can’t imagine life without you.” He: “Is that you or the wine talking?” She: “It is me. I’m talking to the wine.”