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The Wine Guide

Posted by on June 20th

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I have divided this wine guide into several mildly amusing chapters.    As always, I selected each wine for its high quality and good pricing.  I’ve included over 20 wines in this list, so jump in.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Best bottles for a giggling group of gulpers

If you are buying wine for a large group of people, you will need a ton of great wines.

When hosting a big dinner, I like to have a wide selection of wines. First, I always have a light style red wine with plenty of fresh fruit flavors. For instance,  a well-made Montepulciano; will work very well with all those crazy feast flavors.

I also want some bottles of in-your-face fruit bombs, like Petit Sirah and Shiraz; larger groups tend to spend more time chatting about their love lives rather than their wine cellars. Those are the type of party-goers that will gravitate towards big & delicious wines.

A nice light bottle of Columbia Valley Riesling is about as perfect a Thanksgiving pairing as it gets for whites. Going with an Italian or Spanish white wine is another great option. Plus, I also like to start with an aperitif wine, in particular a Sauvignon Blanc.

The following wines will work well with pretty much any casserole or canned bean you can throw at it. Each of these bottles cost less than $15. Best of all, they also offer up flavors that pretty much every wine drinker loves. If you are looking forward to a raucous holiday feast, these wines will help.

  • Ryan Patrick Riesling Columbia Valley
  • Coto de Gomariz “Flower and the Bee” Blanco
  • Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Single Vineyard
  • Collefrisio Filare Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
  • Hope Estate “The Ripper” Shiraz
  • Bodegas Ordonez Tineta Ribera del Duero
  • Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah, Caldwell Ranch

An intimate gathering of awesome folks

If you have a small group of folks for a holiday, your wines should reflect how much you enjoy your guest’s company. These wines don’t have to be expensive, but they should be elegant and beautiful.

With small groups, a bottle of Champagne is a great way to start the meal. One bottle for a group of eight is okay, as long as you don’t mind tiny sips. Personally, I always have at least three or four bottles on hand, just in case.

You will want to select wines on the table for the feast, including at least one white. A Fiano di Avellino is a great option because it’s a little richer than most whites but also packs a bundle of fresh flavors. That combination will balance out the meal’s richness.

For a red, you really want something worthy of a conversation among friends. Bottles like Gigondas and the Ramitello make themselves known. They are the strongmen of the wine world: they bend flavors to their own will. The Marchese di Villamarina is a beautiful bottle of Cabernet from Sardinia; that alone is a tale best told by a drunken sommelier. Don’t even get me started on that bottle from Nimes.

For the Adventurous Culinarians

Are you cooking your yams sous vide this year? Is your turkey a free-range heritage breed? Are you delving deep into your cookbooks to uncover a recipe truly awesome and mind-blowing for Thanksgiving? Sounds awesome!

For wines, you will want bottles that play well with food flavors, but do not bully them around. Wines from Burgundy and Tuscany great ways to go since their flavors are intricate and delicate and have a backbone of minerality. Both the Givry and the Chianti below are good options. I also love dry red wines from the Douro, especially if lamb or wild game is prepared. The bottle from Santa Barbara is a great option, too. It’s a Grenache blend and offers a very food-friendly character.

  • Quinta do Vallado Douro
  • Curtis Heritage Cuvee Red Santa Barbara County
  • Antonin Rodet Givry 1er Cru
  • Lanciola Le Masse di Greve Chianti Classico

If the obnoxious know-it-all uncle is coming to dinner

We all have one of these guys (or gals) in our life. You know the type: he thinks he knows EVERYTHING about wine because he went to a tasting at Opus One and has a wine cellar in the basement of his McMansion. He may intimidate you, but don’t worry. He’s just fronting. If you bring a bottle that seems to be very limited and expensive, you are going to be hailed a  Turkey Day god.

Reeking for money is a lot different than costing a lot of money… at least if you know what you are doing. Here’s a list of wines that cost less than $30 and look (and taste) like you spent a whole lot more. Make sure to develop a story of how you stumbled upon these wines at a quaint little wine shop in Monaco.

These bottles are also great for gifts.

  • Amity Vineyards “Winemakers Reserve” Pinot Noir
  • Mas Igneus “FA 206” Priorat
  • Stag’s Leap Winery Petite Sirah, Napa Valley
  • Vall Llach “Idus” Priorat
  • Niner Estate Merlot, Bootjack Ranch
  • Clarendon Hills Grenache, Romas Vineyard

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