Friday, December 21, 2007

Best Affordable Holiday Wines

We thought we’d list three wines – sparkling, white, and red – perfect for the holidays. All are affordable (under $12), widely available, and go good with most any type of food. They may not be our absolute favorites in each category, but all are excellent, versatile, and reliable.

Sparkling – Cristalino Rose Brut Cava Non-Vintage (Spain)
This is a wonderful, fun “adult Kool-Aid” wine. Very little sweetness for an inexpensive pink sparkler. Good with food, or on its own. We generally appreciate the price/quality ratio of nearly all Spanish Cavas. Cristalino also makes a nice regular Brut, just as pleasant and affordable, if you can’t bring yourself to go with a “pink” wine.

White – Barton & Guestier (B&G) Vouvray 2005 (France)
A wonderfully integrated expression of Chenin Blanc. Tastes of pear, apple, and definitely some weight (more so than the typical ethereal California Chenins). The faintest hint of softness (pretty typical of almost all Chenins) but with just the same hint of acidity to balance it out. A pleasant surprise if all your impressions of Chenin are cheap, light, and sweet.

Red – Beringer Founder's Estate Pinot Noir 2005 (California)
It's hard to find a reliably good yet affordable California Pinot. This Beringer tastes like the skin of a red apple, with a nose of roses and blackberries. It's slightly smoky, with some decent tannins. Just enough weight to be sipped on its own, but still light enough to pair well with most holiday dinners.