Wine for Thanksgivng: Quick Picks

winePhoto by gcfairch, via Flickr

Last year here on the blog, I wrote two posts on picking wine for Thanksgiving. It was the first time covering the subject for me, but it’s a tried and true annual staple for wine writers. And it’s often one that is forced and full of clichés from “there are no rules”! to “you must follow these tips!”

So instead of rehashing all of the suggestions and tips, I’m just going to keep it simple. Here are the links to last year’s posts:  Critics’ Tips and My Tips.  And below you’ll find two of the wines that I’m bringing to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

But first, here’s the MOST important tip that you’ll ever need – make sure you buy enough wine!



2010 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier – $12

From the Winery: “This unique marriage of two varietals that would never share the same bottle in their native France unites the crisp, honeyed fruit of Chenin Blanc with the plush body, light floral aromas and juicy stone fruit notes of Viognier, for a wine that is both sophisticated and easy to enjoy.”


2009 Erath Pinot Noir, Oregon – $19

From the Winery: “This lustrous beauty showcases aromas of raspberry pie with pleasing hints of mint, citrus and a provocative suggestion of smoke. Fresh and bright flavors on the palate are balanced with a blend of juicy cherry and racy pomegranate. An easy sipper yet enough acidity to pair beautifully with your favorite dish.”


Wine for Holiday Parties: Tips and Suggestions

img_3006Photo by ksbuehler via Flickr

A few weeks ago, I did a couple of posts on wines for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit. I really enjoyed writing the posts too, so I thought I’d follow them up with some tips and wine suggestions for holiday parties. ‘Tis the season, after all.

Choosing wine for a holiday party is much easier than for Thanksgiving. First, you’re not constrained by the somewhat impossible task of trying to pair the wines with the food. In most cases, you’ll just be serving hors d’oeuvres and snacks – so forget trying to pair with food. Second, you’re likely buying wine for a larger group of people. Ultimately, you want wine to go with wines that people will simply enjoy and probably not think too much about. So keep it simple for yourself as well.

Holiday Party Wine Tips
Here are five tips to simplify the wine selections for your holiday party.

1. Buy by the case It’s a party, stock up. Plus, most wine shops will give you a discount when you buy by the case, which helps keep your costs down (see tip #4)

2. Pick crowd pleasers, easy drinkers No need to over think your choices and seek out some esoteric wine for a big party. Just go with crowd favorites. Serving two red and white options each is ideal, and I’d suggest choosing both lighter and heavier bodied wines. So think sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, pinot noir or merlot and big blends.

3. Screwcaps are key You’re hosting a big party, do you really have time to stand around and open up all of the those bottles? If the wine is flowing freely, screwcaps are great for minimizing the hassle of uncorking a dozen or more wines in a night. And while there’s plenty of debate over the longevity of screwcap wines, most are perfect for drinking right now.

4. Look for value There’s a time and a place for bringing out the expensive stuff, but I’m not sure a Holiday party fits the bill – especially if you’re hosting a big party. Personally, I’d reserve the good stuff for smaller parties with close friends so you can be sure the wines are fully enjoyed and  appreciated. Similar to my advice for Thanksgiving, there’s plenty of great wine available for under $20, especially among screwcaps. In fact, the $8-$12 range seems to be the real sweet spot.

5. Go with Prosecco for the bubbly In keeping with nearly all of the previous tips, you really can’t go wrong with prosseco. It’s cheap too. Plus, prosecco is a great sparkling wine to use in drinks like mimosas or poinsettias, which expands your cocktail options.

Holiday Party Wine Picks
Following those tips, here are a few wine picks. These wines can be found fairly easily in wine shops and supermarkets. For those in the DC area, I’ve found all of these wines at Total Wine stores in Virginia, and sold at big discounts too.

2009 La Vielle Ferme Côtes du Ventoux ($8)

2009 La Vielle Ferme Côtes du Luberon ($8)

NV Fess Parker Frontier Red Lot ($10)

2009 Angeline Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($11)

NV Zardetto Prosecco di Conegliano Brut ($12)

2009 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir ($13)

2009 A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris ($14)

2009 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($17)

2008 A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir ($18)