Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wine for the Holidays

Wine for the Holidays

Here are some ideas for a couple of wines for the holiday season.
Thanksgiving is a great time to have wine. Sometimes in the 1990’s I was listening to a talk radio show and they had a gourmet on that was suggesting wines for thanksgiving.
He suggested a Gewurztraminer as a perfect Thanksgiving wine as it really picks up the flavor of the stuffing and other holiday foods and complements them. We tried a couple of bottles that year and the guy was right on the money. It was great! While there is no spice in the wine, it does seem to pick up the flavors from your dinner and frames them with a great fresh tasting wine. Try it for your next holiday meal especially if stuffing is involved. There are many makers of Gewurztraminer both European and domestic and so far, they are all good. Just choose one in your price range and enjoy.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a fresh young red wine bottled at the very beginning of the Beaujolais season. Originally it was bottled (or in casks) and trotted out to parties and street festivals for people to try this year’s Beaujolais and get some feedback before mass bottlings of the remainder were made. Perhaps if the taste was not so good the grapes could be blended into other things and if it was good then make more Beaujolais. A lot of wine snobs will turn their noses up at this wine and that’s just too bad for them because it tastes really good. There is one problem with the nouveau though and that is it goes bad really quick. Beaujolais Nouveau is sold starting about November 17th each year and thousands of cases are shipped from France to the United States and many people have Beaujolais Nouveau parties and try out the few brands that come out each year.
If you drink it for Thanksgiving it will be wonderful and the quicker you consume it the more you will enjoy it. It will still be good for your holiday season parties and remains very drinkable through the 25th of December. New Years Eve is about the last time I can drink it as it is quickly turning to vinegar. So if you see a bottle of 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau on the shelf for sale after January 1, 2010 just say no. That is, unless you want to use it for cooking or a vinaigrette. My personal scale of drinkability for Beaujolais Nouveau is in this list. This is just from my personal experience over about 15 years or so.

November 17 to November 27
Wonderful, top of its form, delicious (10)

November 28 to December 15
Really good, quite enjoyable just a little less good than before, still worthwhile (9)

December 16 to December 25
Still good, but noticeably degraded from its November peak goodness(7)

December 26 to January 1
You have to be a big fan to stick with it this long as it is just starting to really turn South

January 2 and on
If you still have any just use it for cooking or to make salad dressing, it is no longer drinkable. (0)

Just my personal opinion and yours may differ one way or the other, just do what suits you and makes you happy.
This is why unless you are prepared to drink it up quickly or have a lot of friends to help you drink it, buying a whole case or two on November 17 is probably not a good idea, just get a few bottles. I have dumped out more than one bottle in mid January. For us about 4 or 5 bottles is enough but I do often buy a case and give bottles out as Thanksgiving presents to a few friends and relatives.
All is not lost though as if you really love Beaujolais then you can still buy Beaujolais Villages (called that because each little village has its own) and there are several brands to choose from. You don’t have to drink the Beaujolais Villages quickly it will last quite a while. I don’t love it like the Nouveau but it is very good.
Champagne for the holidays is always a good idea. Personally I like French Champagne. Is it better than American sparkling wine? Well allow me to explain.
My wife and I took a really nice 11 day trip to France in 2002 and spent a couple of days in the Champagne producing areas. So my preference is French wine in all cases, not because it may or does taste better than American wine or any other but because drinking it reminds me of our really great trip and our time together in Paris and some of the country side of France. I have no clue which is better but when given a choice I buy the French simply because of the memories and the sentiment.
So my choices for Champagne are Moet et Chandon Nectar Imperial which is sweet like Asti Spumonti but not nearly that sweet it is most enjoyable. Second is Moet et Chandon Imperial Brute, followed by Piper Heidsieck Brute, and Veuve Clicquot. Dom Perignon is good but too pricey for our pocket book. I know there are a lot of others but that is really about all I have tried that I really liked and there remain many left to try.
So please share with us what wines you like for your holiday seasons.
The Whisky Warrior.

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