Wine Night with Newbies
Wine occasion #1: Setting the Scene – Your friendly neighbor wants you to come over for a fun occasion, and you can smell the Barefoot a mile away. You want to put a stop to this, but how? “I like sweet wines,” she says. “Nothing too offensive” (read: tannic). It is your job to find that gateway to good wine to get your neighbor on the right track! What to get?
- Clean Slate Riesling – This wine strikes the right balance of sweet that your neighbor is accustomed to while still showing some depth with its mix of fruits and minerality. The price is right too – in the $10 – $15 range – which may lure your neighbor away from the domestic section and sample other staples of Mosel and Alsace… One can hope!
- Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau – Beaujolais is a great wine for beginners as it is low in tannins and high in fruit flavor. The Gamay grape even gives it a unique bubblegum-like taste! Priced in the $10-$20, this wine will leave newbies wondering what other flavors can be found in vino.
- Vietti Tre Vigne, Barbera D’ Asti DOCG, IT – While there may be a possibility that your neighbor is a supertaster who finds tannins too astringent, there is also a chance they are just resistant. To ease them into the deep side of the tannin pool, start them off with a tasty low tannin Barbera such as this. Priced around $20
Final Thoughts: It has been my experience that novice wine drinkers would like to try more wine than their usual go-to’s but often don’t know where to begin. Wine can be intimidating at first, and giving a little guidance can go a long way.
Wine Night with Connoisseurs
Wine occasion #2: Setting the Scene – Your Sommelier friend is hosting a wine night with other vino aficionados of a similar caliber and is requesting everyone bring a bottle. The pressure is on! Knowing that the bar is set a tad higher than normal, you really want to make a good impression. But what to bring?
The Right Wines: Your first inclination is to spend some serious coin on fine wine. The more expensive the better, right? Not necessarily… While yes, a 1982 Haut Brion would certainly win the night, you do not have to spend thousands or even hundreds on a show-stopping wine (unless you want to, of course)! Here are some fan favorites to prove it:
- Elena Fucci ‘Titolo’ Aglianico del Vulture – This Italian red will be well-received amongst the pros with its robust flavor and long lasting finish. Be sure to decant the wine for an hour before serving and remember to take in its heavenly aroma of cherry and tar. It can be found for around $40 on wine retail sites.
- Kanonkop Pinotage Stellenbosch – Wine nerds are sure to geek out over South Africa’s beloved Pinotage, which is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsault and exudes a delicious funkiness. The flavors of dark cherries are a highlight in this well-balanced wine. Kanonkop’s Pinotage is highly regarded and this vintage does not disappoint! Priced around $40.
- Casas del Bosque Pequenas Producciones Sauvignon Blanc – This crisp white hailing from Chile’s Casablanca Valley will impress with its energetic elegance. Hints of jasmine and jalapeños on the nose and creaminess on the palate make for an interesting wine that will not soon be forgotten. Priced around $50
Final Thoughts: While the suggestions above are sure to impress, half the fun is in the hunt. Researching and finding a bottle that makes those who know wine do a double-take is almost as satisfying as drinking it!
Wine for a Holiday Party
Wine occasion #3: Setting the Scene – It is the time of year to eat, drink, and be merry! Don’t let deciding what to drink impede on the other aforementioned activities and follow this guide:
- Domaine Serene ‘Evenstad Reserve’ Pinot Noir – For holiday dinners, it is sometimes hard to find a wine that complements the variety of the food on the table, but Pinot Noir is up for the task. Willamette Valley’s Domaine Serene will be the talk of the table with its silky dark-fruit deliciousness. Priced at $75
- Banyuls – Dessert is plentiful this time of year and the perfect pairing for it is something equally as sweet, like the French dessert wine Banyuls! While it may seem like overkill on paper, on taste it is heaven! Pro-tip: Bring it to a party with a side of chocolate truffles. Minds will be blown! Priced between $30- $40
- Benjamin Bridge Brut – It is the time for celebrations, and what better way to celebrate than with some bubbly. This sparkling wine from Nova Scotia will bring cheer with its notes of notes of orange blossom and Fig Newtons. Priced around $45.
Final Thoughts: This is the time of year to go all out! With all the parties and events, you are probably drinking more than usual. Make all the extra calories worth it with out-of-this-world wine!
Wine for a Summer BBQ
Wine Occasion #4: Setting the Scene – The sun and grill are a-blazing which only means one thing: it is a day-drinking season…also known as Summer. To combat the heat, wines should be light and refreshing. Here are some options:
- Martín Códax Rías Baixas Albariño – With Passion fruit and lemon zest on the palate, Albariño is the perfect wine for summer! This Galacian wine pairs great with summer staples such as salads and seafood. Priced around $15.
- The Palm by Whispering Angel Rosé – They say to not judge wines by their label, but The Palm by Whispering Angel Rose is the exception. With the pink hues of the Rosé serving as the perfect background to the palm tree aesthetic of the label, it is hard to resist. Luckily, it also tastes great with its refreshing raspberry palette. Priced around $20.
- Bodegas Familia Bastida ‘Alceo’ Tempranillo, Castilla La Mancha, Spain – Cherries and spices make this Tempranillo the perfect companion to a BBQ Dinner. Refreshing with a balanced acidity, this wine will be a hit around a summer night bonfire. Priced around $10 – a steal!
Final Thoughts: In the summer, you shouldn’t have to think too hard about your wine pairing: it is too hot for that! Have a little fun and venture off the beaten path. You may find your next favorite.