HOLIDAY PARTY WINES should be affordable, quality wines with a broad appeal. Everyone’s palate and tastes are different, but these wines are popular because they appeal to wine drinkers of varying knowledge and experience levels. Many of the wines on this short list were customer favorites at my former wine bar, Roux Wine & Spirits in Prairieville, Louisiana. Others are personal favorites of mine that I keep coming back to for my own parties.
1. Segura Viudas Brut Cava, NV, $10.99
It’s the holidays, so sparkling wine is important. One of the best values in sparkling is this inexpensive Cava from the Penedes region of Spain. This wine offers flavors of crisp apple along with floral notes. It’s great by itself or mixed with cranberry juice and a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur for a festive holiday cocktail.
2. Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $11.99
This is a fresh and lively fruity white wine from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Expect aromas and flavors of pineapple and grapefruit with a subtle green aroma of fresh cut grass and herbs. This is a crisp white with a long finish and will pair well with cheeses and creamy appetizer dips.
3. Dr. Loosen Doctor L Riesling 2014, $13.99
For party guests with a taste for sweeter wines, this Riesling from the Mosel region of Germany is a great choice. The best sweet Rieslings are, like the Doctor L, balanced by high acidity, which keeps the wine crisp on the palate. Expect fruity aromas and flavors of peaches, apricots and honey, along with mineral notes of wet stone.
4. Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano Rosso 2013, $12.99
For lovers of Italian wines, this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon makes a great party wine. This young “Super Tuscan” offers the best of both worlds, the fruity cherry aroma of a young red Tuscan wine along with elegance and balance from aging in wood. This wine pairs well with both lighter appetizers and heavier dishes.
5. Petroni Rosso di Sonoma 2009, $18.99
This is a wine made in the Sonoma region of California, but using traditional Italian grape varietals. It offers complex aromas of sweet ripe blackberry and cherry, baking spices, vanilla, caramel and cedar. This wine has enough acid and tannin to stand up to a meal, but the tannins are smooth and the wine is easy to drink. The wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
6. Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $10.99
This Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills region offers bold flavors of black cherry and blackberry, currants, and vanilla before finishing with a hint of cocoa. The wine finishes with smooth velvety tannins. This is another great dinner party wine, as it pairs well with the rich flavors of roasts and strong cheeses. This is one of the best values on my list as it offers a lot of complex flavors for a small price tag.
7. Damilano Marghe Nebbiolo Langhe 2010, $16.99
This will please the wine connoisseurs at the party. It’s a bold red from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and made from the Nebbiolo grape. Wines made from Nebbiolo are characterized by having high acidity and tannins, making them a great choice to bring to a holiday dinner. The wine has aromas and flavors of plums, violets, hazelnuts and a hint of cocoa on the finish. It is one of the most elegant wines on this list.
And for the splurge…
Chapter 24 Fire and Flood The Fire Pinot Noir 2012, $49.99
If you’re going to splurge, you might as well go big and save it for your more special friends. This wine is named “The Fire” in reference to the volcanic soils where the grapes are grown in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. On the nose, you will find the scents of cherries, cedar, and forest floor. On the palate, you will find vibrant acidity balanced by refined tannins for a polished, steely finish. This is a wine you will want to decant for an hour or so before serving, as it will develop more fully when contacted with air. Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile grape varietals for food pairing and goes well with almost anything. My favorite pairing for Pinot is duck.