Stop Whining and Get Wining!

Guys, it’s time we face the facts. I know it’s a harsh reality to swallow but … we all need to stop looking at Joe Biden memes and start prepping for the holiday season. Trust me, I feel your pain, which is why I’ve put together a list for those of you who want to lift some spirits this year by providing boozy merriment. Whether it’s holiday dinner parties, Secret Santa swaps or gifts for the host(ess) for your 15th ugly sweater party of the season, these are some wine options that are bound to impress, no matter the occasion.

Muller-Catoir Haardt Scheurebe Trocken [Germany, organic] is a mouthful, both in its name and the flavor-packed liquid in the bottle. Though scheurebe is one of the more obscure winemaking grapes, you’re more familiar with its style than you think. Picture all the great things you love about the best sauvignon blanc you’ve ever had. Got it? Good, now multiply those favorite characteristics by 250%, and that’s scheurebe. Ripe apricot, grapefruit and tropical pineapple roll across your palate, only having their assertive flavors interrupted by delicately placed white flower notes and silky minerality on the mid-palate.

Next up, let’s talk about JH Meyer Carbonic Pinot Noir [South Africa, organic]. Yes, you read that right, the pinot noir I’m recommending isn’t coming from a Premier Cru in Burgundy (at least not this time), it’s coming from South Africa. JH Meyer is producing some of the coolest pinot noir out there right now using whole cluster carbonic maceration, a wine-making process you’d more likely see used on the Beaujolais wines in France (teaser: we’ll talk more about these in a bit). Implementing this method of winemaking leaves you with a wine that is light, lean, fruit-forward and, best of all, gets better day after day once opened — not that anyone will have the self control to not crush the entire bottle immediately. Bright, juicy strawberry, pomegranate and orange zest are the main characters on the palate, but there’s an intriguing earthiness that complements all of those flavors oh so perfectly. While Meyer’s Pinot Noir might be some of the best, he unfortunately isn’t making very much of it. Only 850 bottles of this bad boy were produced (though I’ve personally put a good dent in that number already), so be sure to tell whomever you gift this to that they’ve got a rarity in their possession. Also, it’s worth noting how hard it’s been for me not to make one single bologna joke in this entire paragraph.

It wouldn’t be a true holiday list without a nod to the style of wine most popular this time of year and the grape that made it famous. The Dufaitre Beaujolais Villages Nouveau [France, organic] is a stunner. The Gamay grape so perfectly embodies everything a holiday, food-friendly wine should have: rich fruit flavors, mild acidity, subtle tannins and, most importantly, the ability to complement almost any dish you pair it with. Look for tart cranberries and raspberries up front with a strawberry bubble gum mid–palate and a waft of tannin on the finish. Made with the same carbonic maceration method we touched on previously with JH Meyer, the Beaujolais Villages Nouveau from Laurent and Remi Dufaitre is an example of how the simplistic nature of this style can be brought to great heights without breaking the bank. I’ve been lucky enough to bring this into the shop from the New York importer for three years in a row now, and it never disappoints.

If you’re looking for a wine that’s fun, flirty and makes you selfishly want to hide the entire bottle by the fruitcake where no one will look for it or be able to share it, the Tre Monte Barbera Frizzante [Italy] is for you. Barbera is a grape widely renowned for its ability to fit in so nicely on the landscape of perfect holiday wines with its rich, ripe fruit flavors like blackberries, cherries and plums and mild acidity. Tre Monte takes it a step further and does this Barbera in a frizzante style so tiny, smile-inducing bubbles add an extra refreshing note to the wine’s already impeccable pairing ability.

Last but certainly not least, Wonderwall Pinot Noir by Field Recordings [California] is a pretty modern twist on a classic, well-known style. Strawberry and cherry baked-fruit notes with a cola-like quality up front and a undertone of fresh-cut roses on the mid-palate. There’s a lot going on in this Edna Valley Pinot that you wouldn’t expect to find around the $20 price point, but it’s there, loud and proud. If you’re serving this one up yourself or bringing it to a dinner party, I’d recommend saving it to pair with the main dishes given its robust nature, but it will work well with all sorts of holiday fare.

Whatever you end up choosing, make sure you double down and bring an extra bottle. You’ll thank me for that piece of advice once you realize you didn’t care about your family members’ drunken political rants at the dinner table. Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Colleen Arruda is the manager of High Spirits Liquors, where you can find these and many other bottles of cheer this holiday season. 

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