Cheers to the holiday season! Time to break out the mistletoe, holly and, of course, your family’s favorite pinot noir. If you are anything like me, the world of wines can be a overwhelming, leaving you quite confused as you are standing in the isle, feeling pressured and wondering what wine is acceptable to bring to your family gathering.
If you are new to the wine world or looking to learn a bit more about what you should buy, bring and pair, this post is for you. Today I am so excited to chat all about the best holiday wines to bring to a holiday party or pull off your bar cart for your own holiday celebration.
I recently connected with the talented author and wine connoisseur, Kathleen Bershad, who just published, The Wine Lover’s Apprentice, which quickly became the wine-soaked inspiration for this post. This book is such a fantastic guide for anyone looking to educate themselves on basic wine etiquette and wanting to stand out as the best holiday hostess. Each and every page teaches you more about the wold of wine in a fun, accessible and approachable way, free of haught-taughty rules and unrealistic expectations. From learning how to navigate the wine shop to exploring what to pair with each pour, you will be set for the holidays after a quick read of this page-turner. It is also the perfect gift for any wine lover on your list who would love to learn a bit more about what they are sipping and how they can find the best-priced bottle in the store.
Let’s dive into some key takeaways from The Wine Lover’s Apprentice and how you can prep yourself for the best holiday toast:
- Navigating the Wine Shop: When in doubt, reach for something exotic. A $12 bonarda from Argentina will most likely have much more interesting notes than a $12 California merlot.
- Conquering the Restaurant Wine List: You’ve got a lot to decide on, so don’t worry about vintage. Improved winemaking techniques have made the year the grapes were harvested much less important. While vintage certainly still matters for fine wines, if you are ordering a less expensive bottle or a glass, it won’t have an impact – you can relax! Also, keep in mind the rule of specificity, just like when navigating the wine shop – the more precise the location of the wine, the greater the potential for a better quality of wine.
- Serving, Sipping and Storing: To help enhance the taste of any wine (even the $8 one you picked up on your way home) you can pour the vino into a decanter or open the bottle to let it breath. This especially helps with young, tannic wines or older wines that may have sediment. Worst case scenario and you didn’t give it a chance to breath, give your glass a few swirls to help the wine open up. As far as glasses go, sure retailers offer white and red white-specific stems, but really, that isn’t necessary for most wine drinkers. Unless you are a true connoisseur, just one type of glass will do. When purchasing this glass, do lean towards a glass with a larger bowl which will allow more oxygen to get into the wine and help bring our the aromas and flavors.
- The Wine Regions: When you really start to venture into the world of vino even more, it’ll be time to learn your regions! The Wine Lover’s Apprentice spends half the book breaking down the different regions in ways that will help you pick out your favorite bottle in a wine shop or at a restaurant, just by knowing regions’ key characteristics.
- Expert Aging: Age as a noun is how old a wine is, based on the vintage date. Aging as a verb is a wine’s ability to improve over time in the bottle. Few wines truly age, though they will keep in a bottle for three to five years. When I first began drinking wine, I thought all wines got better with age and learned that the hard way when I let a pinot grigio sit on my bar cart far too long.
Do you feel ready to conquer picking the wine this holiday season? If you have any additional questions, drop them below and I know a girl who can help you out. 😉 If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend The Wine Lover’s Apprentice and it is a perfect under $10 gift too. Cheers, my friends!