With holiday season upon us and everyone preparing to entertain, whether it includes traditional or non-traditional meals, the tricky question is what wine to serve without breaking the bank. Here are some recommendations to consider for your holiday dinner parties. Retail prices vary depending on geographic location.
Campo Viejo, Spain, $14
Holidays and sparkling wine simply go together. Aside from being festive, sparkling wine is also amazingly food friendly. Going for a deep-fried turkey this year? Pair it with a sparkling. The acidity and effervescence cuts through the fat and creates a luscious mouthfeel. It also goes great with a baked brie. Cava—think Spanish version of Champagne—is a great value, and the Campo Viejo is crisp, fresh, and star bright.
Pine Ridge, Napa, $12
Holidays are a great opportunity to surprise your friends and family with a unique blend. This crowd-pleaser offers lots of tropical fruit flavors and pairs wonderfully with white cheeses, dried fruits and other pre-dinner nibbles you might put out. It is unoaked, fresh and medium bodied, so you may even decide on another glass with your turkey and mashers.
Mulderbosch, South Africa, $10
It’s easy to get in a festive mood when you have a beautiful rosé in your glass. This one made from Cabernet Sauvignon is versatile and can please white and red drinkers alike. Plus it’s a bargain! It offers crisp, light fruit you would expect from a rosé but because of the tannic structure of Cab, it has some muscle to it. Serve with appetizers or put it on the table with the turkey or ham.
Rodney Strong, Russian River Valley, California, $18
A lighter red that pairs well with poultry and is practically a Thanksgiving staple, Pinot Noir is always a versatile choice and usually appeals to both white and red drinkers alike. Rodney Strong is consistent in quality and, coupled with Russian River fruit, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. If you can find it and want to splurge, the Russian River Reserve (~$40) is well worth it, too.
1000 Stories, California, $18
The fruit and spice of zinfandel makes it a good partner for ham, which does well with wine that also has a touch of sweetness. The 1000 Stories is particularly fun for the Thanksgiving table. It spends time in Bourbon barrels before going in the bottle, giving it flavors that epitomize the holidays—dried herbs, vanilla, and clove.
Cline Ancient Vines, Contra Costa County, California, $16
Serving lamb, duck, or game? Put a Mourvèdre on the table to make a splashy impact. With a nose that jumps out of the glass, Mourvèdre (a Rhone-style varietal) is abundant in dark fruit and, in the case of Cline, there are aromas of eucalyptus with bold cherry that lingers on the finish.
Pepperjack Barossa Red, Australia, $18
Pork and blackberry compote is an unbelievable combination, so if you plan to grace your table with a pork roast this season, serve it with this Pepperjack Barossa Red. It practically mimics the berry compote. It is juicy and full of dark fruit, such as plum, blackberries and blueberries.
Daou, Paso Robles, California, $25
Going for the big guns and serving filet mignon, a rib eye roast, or some other hearty red meat? Let the star of the show meet (no pun intended) its match with a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon to cut through the fat. This full-bodied Daou is elegant and has a good balance of fruit, acidity and tannins that keep it from being overpowering, but still bold enough to stand up to red meat.