Hello Fall! Cooler breezes are starting and we’re craving sweater weather, the crunch of leaves and acorns beneath our shoes, and stocking up on holiday wine picks!
Fall is a transitional period. It’s not quite summer and it’s not quite winter, but we get days where it can feel like either. It’s also a preparation period for the holidays with big meals, lots of family time, and long days of travel. Some people celebrate fall with the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I like to celebrate with special wines that embrace the season and double as hostess gifts for holiday events.
Holiday Wine Picks – Versatility
The name of the game when picking holiday wines is Versatility. Versatile wines are meant to work with a variety of scenarios. Great for warm and cooler outside temperatures, light and heavier foods, and simpler and more elegant occasions. They may not be wines for the heaviest foods, but typically that’s not what’s served at your average party. There’s a lot of variety on the table, and there will likely be something for everybody. Why wouldn’t you want a wine that also offers something for everybody too?
Enter the holiday wine picks.
Where the Holiday Wine Picks are From: Wine Access
Wine Access, of which I am an affiliate (I do get a very small commission if you purchase from these links, at no additional cost to you), has some amazing options right now. I couldn’t wait to share them with you.
Order a case and your selections will be the talk of every holiday party no matter which one you bring.
Shipping is free if you spend $150 or more, and the warranty is incredible. I order wines for clients from Wine Access all the time, and I’ve had the greatest experiences with their wines. They also ship with temperature controlling ice packs, so you know your wine will arrive in perfect condition.
All these wines go FAST! So, if you’re interested, buy them while you can!
White Holiday Picks
The holidays are sometimes the time to splurge on a good bottle of wine. The family is all together at last. Friends are finally in the same place at the same times. Special dinners are cooked. Memories are made.
If you’re looking for a special bottle of white to bring to a special occasion like this, look no further.
Frenchman Luc Morlet has a famed history of winemaking in Sonoma and Napa Valley. He has worked at Newton and Peter Michael, before beginning his own winery, Morlet Vineyards. Morlet has crafted more than 30 wines with a 98-point score or higher from Wine Advocate. All that to say, Luc Morlet knows his stuff.
The wine isn’t only delicious, but due to the terroir of where it’s grown, it has the body to stand up to beef tenderloin and the verve to pair beautifully with a salad. Not only that, but it will be a white to please the crowds. Due to the expert craftsmanship of the winemaker, plus the acidity from the cooler ocean breezes, this wine won’t be too heavy or too light.
“‘Ma Douce’ or “My Sweet” is named. and dedicated to Luc’s wife. Sitting hillside on the second ridge in from the Pacific, the plot enjoys a mild and sunny mountain climate and cool maritime breezes, which imbue the wine with the sacred balance of ripeness and verve that defines world-class Chardonnay, no matter where it’s grown.”
Only 85 bottles are left currently – so grab your 2019 Morlet Family Vineyards Ma Douce now!
Sancerre? You might be wondering why this can be in the Fall wines or holiday wines category. Yes. Because Sancerre isn’t just for Summer. I had to put a Sancerre on this list because it seems to be the new “it” girl of wines.
Hear me out. Fall can be sunny, and sometimes warm in the sunshine. While you may have enjoyed Sancerre by the pool this Summer, don’t feel like you can’t take it inside to enjoy with a crab and corn soup, or even a tomato bisque with basil oil and those little crunchy brioche croutons. I feel the Fall Vibes already.
The key here is acidity. The acidity in sauvignon blanc (the grape used in Sancerre), is bright and refreshes your mouth between bites of food. Not only is there acid, but there’s also herbal grassy notes to add a savory characteristic. This makes the wine incredibly food friendly. Serve it alongside the smorgasbord of pot-luck appetizers at family or friend gatherings. It will taste great with Turkey or Ham. It’s got a slight grassy/herbal note to even work brilliantly with stuffing.
And this Sancerre is a WINNER. The 2022 Cherrier Père et Fils Les 7 Hommes Sancerre is something you won’t find most places. It can be yours for only $36.
Rosé Holiday Picks
This Rosé was lovely in Summer but keep hanging on because like Christmas on the Hallmark Channel, Rosé is for all year round. If Rosé is your thing, definitely reach for a bottle of this 2022 Longview Nebbiolo Rosato Juno Adelaide Hills. I love when Australia tries something new, and this is unique. Nebbiolo is incredibly high in tannin. So, the strong structure of this wine will be backed with bright zesty and citrus notes (blood orange, grapefruit notes).
Nebbiolo is an anomaly grape. It’s light bodied with bright red fruits, licorice, and then some earthy savory notes. The wine can be “light” but has tannins that can (as one Master Sommelier put it) “rip your face off.” As such, it requires years (decades) of aging and lots of oak. However, tannin is found in grape skins. Because this is a rosé, and they barely bleed the skins (just enough to get the color and body they are looking for), the excess tannin doesn’t get into the wine. It’s all finesse and ready to drink now.
An Italian family that came to Adelaide Hills in Southern Australia and decided to plant some Nebbiolo grapes (native to Piedmont, Italy). Turns out, Nebbiolo makes a beautiful rosé there.
This wine would be awesome on your winter salads with bitter greens (think Endive or Frisée) and goat cheese. Or even that leftover turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. Sure, it can be a summer sipper – but sometimes in the depths of winter we like to remember warmer days. Pour yourself. a glass of summer that can still pair with a blustery winter snack.
The 2022 Longview Nebbiolo Rosato Juno is currently on sale for $18.
Do you ever feel like after Summertime, every Rosé starts to taste the same? Well look no further to shake it up! This rosé is lovely for your Fall Wines selection, and for holidays because it’s a blend of a different color. Literally. 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, made by 100-point winemaker Hubert de Boüard. Boüard is also behind Chateau Angelus (Bordeaux royalty).
Why for Fall and the holidays? Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s got the depth to work with all sorts of food from turkey to beef tenderloin. It will even work well with a pear and balsamic salad (add in gorgonzola and toasted walnuts for good measure!). Again, it will work well with that potluck friends-giving or holiday party. If you’re looking for a quick and fancy dinner pairing, check out the Pan Seared Halibut in Carrot Ginger Broth.
Rosé is food friendly because of the tannin from the skins that helps to add more body to the wine. It’s still light enough to be refreshing and bright but will have a bit more heft than your typical light bodied white. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon have higher tannin levels in the skins (as opposed to Pinot Noir or Cinsault for example). Furthermore, the taste profile is much more savory with peppery notes. This is especially prevalent in cooler climates (like Bordeaux!). These notes pair so well with holiday foods like roasted tenderloin, honey glazed ham, roast turkey, creamed corn, etc. I’m salivating just thinking about it all.
At $18, the 2022 Château Haut Fontenelle Bordeaux Rose is a great bang-for-your-buck option to bring to a party.
Red Holiday Picks
If you’re looking for that classic Napa Valley Cab to bring to a party, or serve at your own, check out Hoopes.
I found out about Hoopes from a client who had recently visited Napa. They were serving it alongside a dinner I cooked for them of Braised Beef Short Rib and Demi sauce with crispy polenta.
They were kind enough to share a glass with me, and when I saw it on Wine Access, I wanted to share it with you as well. Hoopes is a tiny winery, with only 10 Acres. Oh, and not to mention those 10 acres are right near To Kalon and Cardinale (think wines that are $$$$$).
The beauty of this wine is that it’s straight down the line perfect goldilocks. It’s not too high or too low in alcohol, the fruit intensity is just right and not overpowering, and the body is also just the right consistency. That makes it great for food pairings. Whether it’s heavy appetizers and rich cheeses, or a meaty main course, this wine will match it beautifully!
I recommend it with a peppercorn steak au poivre, but substitute the sherry in the sauce for this wine, and a roasted maitake mushroom side.
Check out the incredible 2019 Hoopes Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley for $48.
If you’re into more of a heavy, ripe-rich fruit, and opulent Cab, look at 2020 Turk Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Cliffhanger Napa Valley – $48. Typically, a mailing-list only offering, but the famed Winemaker known for working at Petrus (Bordeaux) and Etude, along with Stags Leap and more was able to save some bottles for Wine Access.
I love Rioja. Where else can you get a perfectly aged wine from 2011 (TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN?!) for less than $50?
Rioja is a region in Spain, and as you know, in Europe for a region to be on a bottle, it must be a certain style/grape/etc. A “Rioja” wine is made of primarily Tempranillo [temp-ran-ee-yo] grapes. Tempranillo means early one, because it ripens early. The body of Tempranillo is typically on the lighter side, but due to aging it gains body and depth. This wine would be excellent with game, duck or quail, or even richer meats.
This wine was aged in barrels for 5 years. Then stored, at the perfect temperature, location, etc. for you until now. If you don’t want to take my word for it – James Suckling gave this wine 95 points and said, “A very complex, aged Rioja with savory plums, mushrooms, bark, red earth, orange peel and cedar. Quite juicy, fresh, and bright on the palate with a tangy, zesty palate, full of berries and oranges. Firm, long and complex with a mouthwatering finish. Such a traditional taste! Drink now or hold.”
If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, but still very approachable to all your “Big Bold Red Only” friends, add the 2011 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia Rioja Reserva for $45 to your shopping cart before it runs out!
So, there you have it! 6 Holiday picks, whites, rosés, and reds, that would be great at a variety of Holiday occasions. This blog post merely skims the surface, but hopefully shows you helpful things to think about when purchasing wines for the holidays. You’ll notice that I left out sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are a blog post all their own, so check back soon for that!
What are some of your favorite holiday wines? I’d love to hear! And if you try any of the above wines from Wine Access, please let me know your thoughts!
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