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Holiday Wine: A Stress-Free Guide

This turkey has the right idea.
This turkey has the right idea.
Nathan Claiborn

Every year around this time every food or wine related magazine is chock full of advice for pairing wine with your holiday meals. Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, keep it light, do this don't do that. This wine goes with this kind of stuffing, that wine is terrible with turkey etc. I could spend a thousand words arguing why Oregon pinot is better than Santa Barbara pinot for Thanksgiving dinner but I try to take a much more relaxed approach. Here are my Do/Don't of holiday wine.

DON'T overspend on wine. There's already enough financial pressure during the holidays so it's not the time to go nuts trying to impress your family or friends. Chances are only a few people at your festivities would really appreciate it anyway. Save that special bottle for more intimate occasions. Stick to moderately priced wine so that when your wife comes home with an exorbitant present for your mother-in-law, at least you can afford it.

DON'T Stress. You're planning the menu, buying all the food, carefully selecting your guests, then immediately going Christmas or Hanukkah shopping at midnight to get the door buster, then figuring out how to pay for it all. Wine is not the stuff to add stress it's for taking away stress. So don't worry if Aunt Doris only likes white zin and Uncle Henry hates pinot, at the end of the day buy what you are going to enjoy.

Which brings me to the Do's.

 

DO drink what you like. If you really enjoy big fat Washington syrah then drink big fat Washington syrah for the holidays. If you really don't enjoy pinot noir don't go out and buy it just because that's what it said in Food & Wine magazine. The holidays are not the time to experiment. When the kids are wrestling in front of the T.V. and your Uncle Joe starts spouting off against illegal immigrants you can take a long, slow, satisfying sip of a wine you know you're going to like.

DO be thankful. As Thomas Jefferson famously said "Good Wine is a necessity of life for me." Be thankful you're not in the Philippines or Syria and you get to enjoy wine this holiday season with your friends and family around you.

I personally like to drink bubbly for the holidays. It's festive, it pairs well with anything, and it makes me happy. There is not a more versatile food pairing wine than sparkling whether it's prosecco, Cava, Champagne or a domestic sparkler. I'm lucky in this respect because in all my years in the business I've never seen so many affordable sparkling wines on the market then there are right now. I'll be toasting my turkey with a nice, moderately priced bubbly.

Cheers to all of you and to a lower stress holiday season!

When I'm not writing this column, or reading vintage charts to my daughter, you can find me pouring wine at FnB.

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