This time of year, too many people are thinking about what they should be drinking at parties or on New Year’s, instead of what they might like to try. If you don’t love Champagne, don’t drink it on New Year’s Eve. Instead, toast with a buttery chardonnay served with shrimp or lobster cocktail at the stroke of midnight. If family and friends love sweet wines, try one with dessert—it may start a new tradition. Or serve pinot noir with that favorite lamb chop recipe or zinfandel with a prime rib or beef tenderloin dinner. Happy holidays.
This month’s selections are available at Old Vine Wine and Spirits, Mall of America, 952-858-8800.
Chateau Hallet 2003 (Sauternes, France), $17.99
Semillon. Wines from Sauternes run the gamut in price from affordable to an option such as Chateau d’ Yquem, which is off-the-charts expensive. This wine is inexpensive, and if you love it, you can trade up. It’s sweet like honey with a nose of fresh apricots. Pair it with a fruit dessert. The half bottle (375 ml) is enough for eight.
Deco Natural Chocolate NV (Santa Rosa, California), $21.49
Tinta madera, zinfandel, shiraz, grenache. Made like a port, this wine is a blend of grapes from around the globe, and a touch of dark chocolate is added before bottling. It thus has a rich raspberry and chocolate nose and taste. This is dessert on its own—or pair it with the most decadent chocolate you can find. Your friends will be waiting for it next year.
Franciscan Oakville Estate Chardonnay 2005 (Napa Valley), $17.99
Big, buttery, oaky, and absolutely not up my alley, but paired with a little lobster, it’s an unbeatable combo. You would usually dip lobster in butter, so a buttery wine makes perfect sense. Also try it with shrimp or crab.
Clos Du Bois Zinfandel 2004 (North Coast, California), $12.99
The back label says bold and full-bodied, and while I think most label descriptions are overly flattering, this one is right on. Plus, it’s affordable enough to serve at your holiday open house. It has good berry fruit and balanced acid and pairs nicely with any beef on the buffet. Try it with slow-roasted prime rib rubbed with herbs and pepper and you will be pining for next Christmas.