If red is your Christmas wine color, but cab is too tannic and merlot too mellow, there are other options for your holiday feast.
A syrah-grenache blend is a a fantastic alternative red for Christmas. The classic French ones are Châneauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Expensive. Worth your bucket list. Fortunately, there are less-expensive options.
Garnacha is Spanish name for grenache; excellent regardless of moniker. Tempranillo is other special Spanish red. Both are restrained enough to go with lighter meats, and they are beauty when blended together. Tempranillo does well in Texas, too. Worth a holiday thought.
Desperate for value after your holiday shopping sprees? Malbec from Argentina is perfect pour with world-class quality-to-price ratio. Delicious, lush, ripe, not too tannic.
No discussion of reds for festive feasts is complete without sangiovese—mainstay wine in Italy’s Tuscany. You’ll find it in chianti, and blended with Bordeaux grapes in “Super Tuscans” that really are super. Not as palate-seizing as cab, but bigger and bolder than syrah, grenache, and malbec. Can hang with steak if that’s how your yuletide repast rolls.
Beauty of wines and holiday festivities: it is impossible to fail if you are in the spirit of the season. Celebrate our Saviour’s birth with a wine toast. A few years later, when He is a teenager and after urging from His mommy at a wedding, the fruit of the vine will be the stuff of His first public miracle. Merry Christmas.
• D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre McLaren Vale. Lively, wonderful; a Châneauneuf-du-Pape/Gigondas-style wine you can afford. $12
• Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône 2009. Black plum-cherry, spice, minerals; medium body; grenache-syrah-cinsault-mouvedre; excellent value. $12
• Gauchezco Reserva Malbec 2010. Plum, dark fruit, raspberry; nice minerality, [cq, wine term] lingering finish; another value winner by top malbec maker. $15
• Villa Antinori Toscana 2009. Silky, luscious balance; black currant, smoky plum, spice; deep, dark, delicious super value Super Tuscan. $20
• Christoval Vineyards (Texas) Tempranillo 2010. Rustic; cherries, red fruits, leather; nice tannins, oak, medium-full body; CV’s most serious wine. $28.
Last round: All I want for Christmas is enough good wine to get me through Christmas.