There is no doubt about it - When it comes to the holidays, there is bound to be food, family, friends, cookies, and a bottle or two of good wine.
Even if you and your family aren’t planning on partaking in the consumption of said bottles of wine, a good bottle wine is always perfect for a last minute gift or even just an easy grab-and-go contribution to your neighbor’s holiday party.
That being said, we went around to some of Baltimore’s well-known wine and spirits experts to get their recommendations on a few affordable wines that will wow people without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.
In general, according to Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, the $7-$11 red wine is popular around this time of year for office parties, Secret Santa gifts, and hosting. Red wines are generally the go-to as they go well with the colder temperatures. But that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on what is considered “the norm.”
Chateau la Bastide
Blanc 2011 - Corbieres, France - $13.00
Although red wines are more popular during the winter, Mitchell Pressman, owner of Chesapeake Wine Company located in Canton, says that a wine that goes with variety of foods is key when it comes to holiday wines. “A blend of 50% Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Vermentino, this ripe, juicy-dry (think fresh peach), mouthwatering, refreshing white can stand up to a wide variety of holiday foods.”
Cloud Break Chardonnay
California Barrel Fermented - $7.99
“If you are looking for a white, chardonnay is king,” says Coburn. The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.
Syrah '10 Vieille Vignes "Les Genets" - Vin de Pays d'Hauterive, France - $12.00
Nebbiolo '09 "Nebiul" - Monferrato, Italy - $17.00
When it comes to red wine, Pressman suggests two wines that both fall below the $20 a bottle range. “this is full of fragrant berry (La Bastide), spicy smells and flavors. Fruit from old vines planted in the right place usually brings more character and complexity to the wine. “
In regards to the Benotto, Pressman explains that “Nebbiolo is the most illustrious grape of the region (Piedmont) - it is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's most famous and expensive wines.”
How is this version so affordable you ask? Pressman says this version “comes from a small plot of 90 year old vines planted near the town of Asti - a village not so well known for its Nebbiolo - which helps to explain how a wine so full of dark cherry/orange peel/mineral/meaty smells and flavors could be so inexpensive.” Another remarkable value for only $17.
Bordeaux Blend ’07 – Gordon Brothers - Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah blend – USA - $10.99
As reds, whites and blush wines are the more popular way to go in regards to your favorite vino, Coburn hints that blended reds are fast growing in popularity and are generally more affordable.
This cabernet, merlot, syrah and malbec blend has big, dark, toasty tannins and plenty of ripe fruit. Meaty and rich, it shows plenty of power, along with some earthier notes.
Prosecco "Garbel" - Treviso, Italy - $17
When it comes to a more wallet-friendly way to ring in the new year, Pressman suggests a Prosecco straight from none other than the grape vines of Italy.
“Prosecco (the name of the grape) is - or should be - full of fruit, frothy and fresh - just like this one from the Adami family, one of the best producers. It makes for a great ice-breaker to start off festivities, but also works great with much of the food on a holiday table.”
In addition to the recommendations from our local experts (Mitchell Pressman of Chesapeake Wine Company, and Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits) check out the suggestions from wine sommelier Gary Vaynerchuk’s 12 Wines of Christmas.