I think it's hard to imagine the holiday season without a glass of wine in hand, don't you? A great bottle of wine can bring together all the flavors on your table. But with so many options, which wine do you choose?
When I'm picking wine to serve at holiday parties I look for a bottle that will impress at a price that doesn't oppress, plus be food-friendly, given all the different flavors on my cocktail-party buffet or holiday dinner table.
To help simplify your life, I've created a list of my 5 favorite wines to serve at parties. It encompasses the best, most readily available wines I've tasted over the years and they're all under $15! The fact is, you don't have to spend a lot to get a good bottle of wine, so why would you? You might even like these wines enough that they'll become your "go-to" wines year-round. Check out the suggested recipe pairings for serving ideas.
1. Castle Rock Pinot Noir, Mendocino 2006 ($10)
Silky and seductive, this cherry-fragrant beauty is drinkable on its own but also amazingly versatile. This red is delicious with anything from seafood (the Christmas Eve tradition in our house) to a holiday roast. I don't know how they do it for this price, but I'm glad they do!
Suggested Recipe Pairing: Roasted Pheasant with Wheat Berry Salad
2. Esser Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, California 2006 ($10)
Deep blackberry flavor along with complex cedar and vanilla notes at an affordable price. A great bet when you're serving a crowd.
3. Segura Viudas Aria Estate Cava Brut, Spain NV ($10)
The gorgeous bottle belies the bargain price. So does the lovely layered, yeasty, baked pear flavor of this sparkling wine. When you try it with food-it can handle any array of cocktail-party fare or your most traditional Thanksgiving spread-you'll see that sparkling wine is not just for toasts!
Suggested Recipe Pairing: Lemon-Garlic Roast Turkey & White-Wine Gravy
4. Saint M Riesling, Germany 2006 ($12)
This lip-smacking white is lively and crisp. It has loads of peach flavor, and it pairs well with absolutely every food.
5. Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay, Australia 2007 ($13)
Here you'll find luscious pineapple and peach flavors characteristic of the Chardonnay grape, but not so heavy with oakiness or alcohol that it overpowers food. A great solo sipper too.
Suggested Recipe Pairing: Savory Carrot & Tarragon Tart
By EatingWell's Andrea Robinson
Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson has just published Andrea Robinson's 2009 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone (JGR Productions, 2008).
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