Buying guide for holiday wines

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By Brian Fry

The holidays are a wonderful time, with families and friends gathering for evenings of fun and food. In most households, these gatherings include some adult beverages, especially wine when it comes time to sit down to the holiday dinner table.

There are numerous challenges faced by those hosting the gathering or the people tasked with bringing the wine. How much wine do I need? What kind of wines should I bring? How will the wine selections pair up with the food on the table?

All of these questions can make the wine buying process overwhelming for some and flat our uncomfortable for many. Let’s face it, people remember what happens during the holidays more than they do other events or gathering, so it’s even more important to get it right. Here’s a little guide to help you nail it.

How much wine do I need?

A regular sized (750ml) bottle contains five 5-ounce glasses of wine. Do your best to get an accurate number of guests and estimate each of them enjoying two glasses. If your group is one that tends to drink a little more or less than the average, simply adjust up or down accordingly. I always estimate high and bring a coupe of extra bottles. The worst thing you can do is run out of wine in the middle of a holiday dinner or party when all the stores are closed.

What kind of wine do I need?

This one can be a little tricky, especially if you are guessing blind. Preparation is key here. If you’re not sure what the guests like to drink, it can really pay off to ask. If you’re buying for family members, think back to what they enjoyed at previous gatherings. Keep some mental notes this year to help you prepare for next year.

If you don’t have a clear picture of everyone’s preference then, diversity is the key. Most wine shops are happy to sell you a mixed case or half case of wine and will offer a discount for doing so, this gives you some nice flexibility.

What wines will work with the food being served?

This is where it is wise to seek some help. Most independent wine shops in our area have the owner in the store or at least employees knowledgeable enough to help you out. It’s probably not a good idea to walk into a large chain grocery store or wholesale club and wing it, as you aren’t likely to get the help you need.

Here’s a look at a few of my recommended wines for your holiday table:

Mionetto Avantgarde Prosecco, $13.99

This delightful Italian bubbly is light, crisp and refreshing. It’s great way to start the party (aperitif) and will pair well with most light appetizers and cheeses.

Danzante Pinot Grigio, $11.99

A wonderfully fresh and fruity white, which will pair really well with any seafood offerings and has just enough body to work well with poultry.

Clear Night Riesling, $11.99

This classic German wine has a good level of sweetness without being a “sugar bomb”. This wine will pair fantastic with turkey.

Prophecy Pinot Noir, $12.99

A lighter bodied red that offers great diversity for food pairings. You can serve it with salmon, turkey, or ham. It will satisfy most red drinkers or isn’t overly bold.

Chloe Cabernet, $12.99

Cabernet is the number one varietal (type of wine) sold in America. Many cabernet drinkers are very loyal and don’t like to substitute. This cab leans to the elegant and subtle side, which will help it appeal to a larger group of people.

I hope you found this guide helpful in your holiday wine planning. Cheers to a holiday season filled with friends, family, food and fun (and of course wine)!

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