What wine do you pour for the Christmas feast? For most of the dozen years I’ve written this column the answer is—don’t pour trophy bottles.
The Christmas repast is fulsome and chaotic. You probably have family visiting or close friends coming. Enjoy the love and the sensory assault of bonhomie and pandemonium. Children shrieking in animated delight, oldsters enjoying redolent memories of times past. Don’t waste a memorable (and expensive) bottle amid that cacophony.
Go with your favorite every day wines. The ones that cost less than $20—or if you are fortunate—the ones that cost less than $35. The key here is to open a variety. Aunt Millie enjoys sweet merlot. Open one for her. Flamboyant Uncle Dan covets California jammy fruit and oak bombs. Open one for him. You are a mellow fellow who marvels at malbec’s ability to mesmerize. Open two for you.
Start the whole fandango with sparkling. There is nothing that says “party on” better than popping mushroom corks. Bonus: sparkling pairs with almost any food you can image, including that casserole cousin Lucas’s weird second wife imposes on you each season. Hey, peace on earth, good will toward all.
Consider sweet wines—icewine, port, sherry, madiera—for the finale. All it takes is a sip or two, and it allows you to sidestep your mother-in-law’s pumpkin and rhubarb pie she has been tweaking the past 20 years to get right, and will have to tweak again.
Then there always is the clever, economically savvy play of having guests bring their own favorite wine to the event. That way, if people don’t like the wine, it is not your fault. And your bank balance will bless you when the Christmas reckoning comes next year.
• Becker Vineyards Reserve Merlot Texas 2017: Another proof that Becker is not just a nice Texas wine, but a real player in the wine world. $13-16 Link to my review
• Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2017: Clean, fruit-driven, easy drinker. Silky tannins, soft texture, balanced. $14-18 Link to my review
• Sterling Vineyards Sparkling Rosé, California: Fruit-forward, versatile, tasty. Superb value for price. $15 Link to my review
• Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2015: Rich, silky, flavorful easy drinker. Classic Napa chardonnay. $19-24 Link to my review
• Meiomi Sparkling Wine NV: Fresh, zingy, crisp, slightly sweet, traditional method sparkling wine. $25-28 Link to my review
• La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2016: Deliciously good, lush, wine made by good people with good intentions. $33-40 Link to my review
Last round: Holiday tip—Wine makes mommy clever and squabbling children bearable.