Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday House Wines

Brace yourselves.  The Holiday Trifecta has officially begun.

As the busy-ness of Thanksgiving fades into the early evening darkness, we catch our breath only to realize that the annual Holiday Trifecta is under way in earnest. The month-long blurr, someplace wherein lie Christmas (or Hanukkah) and New Years, is upon us.

Before we know it, good-intentioned neighbors and guilt-motivated relatives will be descending on our homes, mumbling something about cheer, miserable jobs, and...well, you know how it is.

Okay, okay, not all our relatives are Cousin Eddie.  But like it or not, we have to fill these people with holiday cheer. It's what we do as good hosts. At least being a good host doesn't mean suffering through egg nog four nights a week.

So, to keep relations, sanity, and hangovers in check, we recommend keeping some house wines on hand throughout the holidays. Coping mechanism, indeed. But what the hell, you can make it up with a New Year's resolution.

With that as a backdrop for this year's recommendations, let's recap what we're after before getting into specifics.  What we're looking for here is...
  • Wines you can drink and be happy about drinking - with or without food.
  • Wines you can watch your Cousin Eddie drink and not feel badly that it's wasted on him.
  • Wines you can buy by the case at a bargain - not just because your going to go through so much of it, but because you might also want some leftovers.
  • Wines pretty much anyone will find unobjectionable - if not down right quaffable.
With those objectives in mind, we've assembled a list of readily available wines of all colors and shapes - and all of the wines listed here retail for $12 or under.

Okay, in the whites category:
- Torres Viña Sol
Rodney Strong Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc
- 2007 Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay Sonoma County

Sparkling:
- Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava
- Cavit Lunetta Prosecco

And in the red corner:
Root 1 Cabernet Colchagua Valley, Chile
Colores Del Sol Malbec Reserva Mendoza, Argentina
St Francis Red
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet
- Huntington Petit Sirah
McManis Cabernet California
- 2007 McManis Syrah California
- 2007 Simi Zinfandel Sonoma County

Another thought.  Port.  If you're fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that gets an honest change of seasons, then the holidays are the perfect time to bust out some tasty dessert wine.  Being mostly under-appreciated in the US, you can get a decent bottle of non-vintage port without breaking the bank.  And a little goes a long way, so even if you only have a bottle or two of these on hand, chances are it'll last you the season.

Whatever wines you pick as your house wines, please remember to help your family and friends enjoy the holiday season responsibly.

Cheers!