Pinot Noir

Holidays mean different foods for different folks—turkey, ham, lamb, fish, throw in clutch of vegan demands and a beef steak dripping with blood. What is a host to pour for multifarious family and friends?

If your bank account is flush, credit line untouched, year-end-bonus big, go pinot.

If you tremble when price pushes $20, this column is not for you.

Glory of pinot noir: good pinot is really good, really versatile. Trouble with pinot noir: you must spend bucks for good pinot.

Pinot noir is incredibly fickle grape. It demands adoration from vineyard workers, from weather gods, from vintner. Sublime when there is harmony, pinot plonk when not. Quality and hard work is not cheap in your line of work, why would it be different in wine?

Pinot noir is reflective of terroir (expression of the place where vines grow), and offerings from different places can have dramatically different tastes. It also is sensitive to fermentation methods. Famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff wryly whined: “God made cabernet sauvignon; the devil made pinot noir.”

Light to medium in body, pinot is ideal wine for turkey-based Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

If your guests wrung their wine wisdom from book/movie Sideways and its sequel, you will really shine with a pinot pour.

If you need strategy, quality pinot enhances main course, followed with wallet friendly offerings of other varietals for the rest of the repast.

Tasting notes:

• MacMurray Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2011. Restrained, elegant, silky; medium mouth; tasty cherry, raspberry, plum; light finish. $24

• Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir SV Estate 2011. Extravagantly elegant palate pleaser; raspberry, red fruit; acidity with soft, polished tannins; why God created pinot noir. $25

• Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2011. Red fruit, plum, berries; balanced, fresh, tame tannins; light-medium body, smooth. $29

• Gallo Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2011. Effortlessly smooth, rich, nuanced; cherry, vanilla, plum, boysenberry; tasty tannin, spot-on oak, lingering finish. Pinnacle pinot at price. $35

Last round: A good man/woman makes you feel sexy, strong, able to take on the world. Oh, wait. That’s wine. Wine does that.