With the Christmas holiday only a few days away and New Year's 8 days away (and my wife baking for the holiday table), I thought that I would share some wine and beer picks for your holiday celebrations. My suggestions range from the affordable to "worth the splurge".
For reds, a best bet is usually Columbia Crest's Grande Estates and H3 line of wines - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends - all usually under $15. Also, from Washington State is the Eroica Riesling, a collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Germany's Ernst Loosen (around $20 to $25)
Other holiday wines to pick up, some of which have wide distribution in the U.S. include:
American Sparkling Wines (non-vintage): Gruet (NM); Roederer (CA); Schramsberg (CA); Mumm (CA); and Chateau Ste. Michelle (WA)
American Whites: Conundrum (from makers of Caymus); King Estate Pinot Gris (OR); Chardonnay from Neyers and Newton Red Label (both CA); Pacific Rim and Kung Fu Girl Riesling (WA)
California Reds: Joseph Swan Pinot Noir; Copain Tous Ensemble Syrah and Pinot Noir (2007 or '08 vintage); Sean Minor Pinot Noir (the '09 might be out now); and Siduri Sonoma County Pinot NoirEuropean Reds: Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages and Vinsobres (seek out Rhone reds from '07 and '09 - skip the thin 2008's) and look for deals on juicy Cru Beaujolais (please not Nouveau!) from the hyped 2009 vintage
Most breweries release a Winter or Holiday brew each year, ranging from spiced ales to heavy Belgian strong dark ales, or they release one of their flagship beers in December. Some of our favorites each year include the Anchor Christmas Ale, the Vintage Ale from Trader Joe's (also a great value at $5) and the delicious Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn Brewery (we're still drinking bottles of last year's). Even Samuel Adams has released Infinium, a Biere de Champagne, which we'll be drinking at New Year's (it's pricey at nearly $20 per bottle). Last year, The Bruery released 2 Turtle Doves and this year's the brewer's holiday offering in their series is 3 French Hens (though we personally liked the stronger 2 Turtle Doves better).
Other seasonal beers to try are the hoppy Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (great value for a specialty beer), Troeg's Mad Elf (fruity and boozy) and of course some hearty European brews: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Mikkeller's Santa's Little Helper. For desserts, try (with pie) the Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious (an American tripel aged in Laird's apple brandy barrels) and Dogfish Head Bitches Brew (an imperial stout brewed with raw honey and gesho root) as a dessert on its own.
If you need tips on where to find some of these wines or beers, feel free to email us and we can often point you in the right direction on where they may be available.
Cheers and Happy Holidays!