A Winter Wonderland of Wine

If you love the holiday season as much as we do, you know it’s a time when only the totally spectacular will do. Show your love and appreciation for special friends and family with an evening of pure delight: this line-up of world class wines will help you celebrate the end of the year and swing into the new one with sumptuous style.

Greet your guests with a flute of bubbly – and make it French Champagne. Make it extra special by offering up a grower Champagne, that is, one where the cuvee is produced by the same estate which grows the grapes. The French call it Récoltant-Manipulant, and emphasize Grower Champagnes with "RM" on the wine label. Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru ($80) is lovely or the Grand Cru property of Duvol-Leroy ($40).  Over the top: Spring for a vintage Champagne like Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose 2008 or Billecart-Salmon Blanc-de-Blanc 2006. (Check out our gift guide: it’s also Co-Founder Rob Wilder’s fave present.)

Next, try a White Burgundy—there is no white wine in the world that can compete in terms of elegance, finesse and quality. Your favorite retailer will no doubt offer up some excellent suggestions, but we love the idea of a crisp, minerally Grand Cru Chablis such as the Domaine Chatelain ($57).

On to an Italian Barolo. Made exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape in the Piedmont region of Italy, it is Italy’s most noble variety. This wine will be lighter in color than many age-worthy red wines but it is distinct in its high tannins and acidity, as well as its famous tar, rose and Chinese spice profile. Find one from a reliable producer and with some age, if possible, so the tannins have had a chance to mellow a bit. We like the Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cannubi 2011 ($79).

Next, wow them with a Napa Cabernet. Cabernet was made famous in Bordeaux, France, where it was combined with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but in California, Cabernet steals the spotlight for itself. These big, full-bodied wines with notes of black-currant, cedar and tobacco are perfect for a special occasion. Try the Chimney Rock Stag’s Leap 2015 ($75) or the Stags’ Leap Cabernet Estate 2014 ($87).

The perfect conclusion to this perfect night of wine tasting: Australian Barossa Shiraz. Dark, tannic, smoky and peppery, Shiraz is Syrah from Barossa, bold with ripe blackberry, meaty and earthy elements and grippy tannins. Two Hands, Molly Dooker and Penfolds are all famous producers of exceptional wines in the $40-200 range. Or, take advantage of an amazing value wine: the 93-point Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2015 can be had for $16.

Happy holidays.

Lydia Strohlparties