Tag Archives: bubbly

12 wines to buy on 12-12-12 for the 12 days of Christmas

It’s 12-12-12, the last time the month, day and year will perfectly align until the next century. Since most of us won’t be around then, for those who find luck in numbers, it’s a big day. We like it because we can do fun things like offer 12% off 12 bottles and other 12 combinations.

So I’m pulling out my top 12 bottles for the holidays here. For MY 12 bottles, I’d choose these, each with a purpose for this holiday season.

The white splurge:  Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2009 - this Margaret River wine is like Australia’s Montrachet (I know, don’t you hate it when people compare wine to Burgundy?). Hands down one of my favorite Chardonnay and perfect for a holiday splurge.

The red splurge: Antinori Tignanello 2009 - okay, so if you drink this now, you’d have to decant it for a long time… but everyone should try a “Tig” and the ’09 was a beautiful vintage.

The bubble splurge:Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee - I could drink Krug everyday and twice on Sundays and claim a very happy life. A rich and full-bodied bubbly, this is the wine to buy should you be able to drop the dough on bubbles :)

The perfect dinner whiteChehalem 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris 2011 - It holds up to savory and spice as well as rich and creamy. With a perfect balance of racy acidity, floral notes and sweet fruit, this wine is a great match for the dinner table.

The perfect dinner red: Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir 2010 - Thank goodness it’s easier to find a Pinot Noir under $20 these days. Artesa consistently delivers, with rich fruit and bright acid, a palate-pleaser and food-friendly of course.

The perfect party bubbly: Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava - I could try to be creative, but won’t bother -this bubbly is a go-to for parties. It’s great year after year, always a top-seller and always a great value. Can’t beat it.

The perfect party white: La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon Blanc 2011 – my parents buy this by the case as it’s a perfect everyday or party sipper. It has no fake oak or sweet aftertaste, just clean, crisp and easy-drinking.

The perfect party redd’Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2010 - easy going and easy drinking. That’s what you want in a party wine, and the Stump Jump is perfect for that. It’s an all-season wine (great for summer, winter and all if it in-between).

Date night wine:  Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 - it’s a sexy bottle, a seductive wine and needs nothing to pair with it but a little romance.

Hostess gift wine: Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut - bubbles are perfect for the hostess-with-the-mostest, and Schramsberg Mirabelle is a delicious wine that is perfect to serve at a party or with a meal.

Wine for toasting: Canard-Duchene Authentic Brut Rose - I had to make up a subject to get this bottle of bubbles in – one of my favorites, especially for the price. It’s lovely in the glass, great bubbles and flavors from start to finish.

The wine that goes with everything: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling 2011 - obviously it has to be a Riesling… and this particular bottle, which marries fruit, acidity and sweet in delicious harmony, can go on any table and in any glass and be well-suited there.

Pick out your 12 for 12-12-12. It’s a day to celebrate and wine is certainly the way to go.

Tailgate Sipping

I admit, in my college days at an ACC school, I never drank wine at a tailgate. It wasn’t

An Auburn tailgate hosted by my cousin. The AU Pinterest board named it “Best Tailgate” last weekend!

even an option. My red solo cup was a watered down mix of bourbon and coke, just like everyone else. Now that I’m older, and more mature (I hope), I find that wine and football are a great match. Especially with all the fun tailgate foods that go with it. Some general wine tips on matching up vino and tailgates:

Screw cap wines – Grabbing a glass of wine should be easy, especially if you’re in a true tailgate situation parking lot. No need to dig out a corkscrew – plenty of delicious, refreshing, excellent value wine with screw cap closures around, perfect for the plastic cup in your hand.

Bubbly – A chilled bottle of bubbly is a perfect treat in early tailgate season, when the weather is still warm. I am particularly drawn to its ability to pair with anything salty, like all the chips and dip available. Cava is a delicious wine for the price, and we’re big fans of Jaume Serra Cristalino.

Albarino-  Crisp and clean, Albarino will go with any grilled seafood or seafood dip at the party. Favorites include the Burgans Albarino (great value at $14) and the Bodegas Fillaboa (also about $14).

Malbec – Step it up for the meat on the tailgate menu. Malbec is spicy and jammy, a great match for a mix of sweet and spicy foods. Easy to drink and many a great value. Check out Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec and Apaltagua Malbec.

Zinfandel – Zin is an all-season wine. Great in summer, ideal on the Thanksgiving table, and a perfect pick for a tailgate. Delicious to drink on its own well into the 3rd and 4th quarters. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel is a definite favorite, though Bogle Old Vines Zinfandel is probably my favorite value.

No matter what you pick for your tailgates – beer, bourbon or wine – enjoy that general football season warmth – fall weather rolling in, funny-looking mascots, screaming at the television when you have absolutely no control of the outcome… Happy Tailgate Season!

Holiday Sparklers: A great bubbly for any event

wedding bubblyA bottle of bubbly is a necessity for any holiday event, whether it be a big party blowout or an intimate dinner. Here is your guide for the perfect sparkler for any event.

Big Party – Usually when you’re holding a big party, you’re thinking budget, best bang-for-your-buck. Cava is one of the best choices, as it is dry, crisp, made in the same method as Champagne, and often under $10. Cristalino, Segura Viudas and Paul Cheneau are good producers to go to. Prosecco can also be a good bet, though prices are not as low as they once were. Zardetto and Nino Franco are some of the good ones, though there are others out there. For something a little different, you could also try Korbel. I know, I know, the name can make wine aficionados cringe – makes you think of cheap, poorly-made California wine that has the audacity to still put “Champagne” on the label. But Korbel actually makes their sparkling wine using the traditional method, and recently tasting a few, these wines are not bad, particularly for their price.  Want to get a taste of bubbles? Try our Holiday Bubbly Celebration - it's a trio of a Cava, a Prosecco and a California Sparkling wine. Perfect to sample each & a great gift for a host.

Daytime gathering or Sunday brunch – For this kind of event, I always go with Prosecco. Something about the fresh fruitiness of Prosecco is perfect for daytime occasions, particularly when you’re looking to do some fun sparkling mixers, like Mimosas or Bellinis. As I said above, Zardetto and Nino Franco are great producers, but there are great Proseccos at many price ranges.

Dinner Party – Sparkling wine is a must for any good dinner party, opening the way for celebration. A great pick for dinner parties is a good non-vintage Champagne. There are plenty of great Champagne bottles that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, like Piper Heidsieck or Gosset. Both are under $40 and consistently delicious. If you wanted to splurge a bit more, Perrier Jouet or Bollinger (a favorite) are great choices to wow your guests. A bit lower on the scale, opt for some great California sparkling wine – Roederer Estate is always a best bet, as is Iron Horse. Or try a US wine outside of California. Argyle from Oregon or Gruet from New Mexico are super yummy.

Intimate dinner – So it’s you and your partner or you and close family. This time during the holidays is the time to break out the good stuff. My favorite Champagne house?  Krug. The Grand Cuvee is a fantastic non-vintage and if you REALLY want to splurge, head for one of their vintage bottles. Yummy stuff. Two others highly recommended: Deutz Cuvee William Brut 1998 or any bottle by Egly-Ouriet, a grower-Champagne worth a try. 

Wines for the tailgate

When one thinks of drinking at tailgates, wine is not the first beverage that comes to mind. Beer probably ranks top of the list for most, though for me tailgate means bourbon & coke. Okay, maybe not anymore, but it did 10 years ago back in my days at UVA. Point is, most of us don't think wine when we think tailgate.

But perhaps we should. Look at the myriad of foods that come in tailgate parties – hamburgers and hot dogs. Crab dip and casseroles. These flavors are just screaming for wine. Maybe not all wine, but there are some wines that are tailgate friendly, and here are a few of my favorites.

Screw cap wines – this is a general category, but I think it is valid. Just as you pop open a beer, you want to reach into that cooler and just screw off the cap to pour that wine into what is most likely a plastic cup. Taking the time to use a corkscrew doesn't quite fit as you're eating baked beans from an aluminum platter.

Bubbly – I will clarify that I enjoy bubbly primarily at early season tailgates, particularly in the south, when the weather is still toasty and a super chilled bottle of bubbly is a perfect treat. My favorites are Cava, and while you cannot go wrong with Cristalino, an amazing wine for the price, I also like the Poema Brut we recently tried. Dry and crisp and great with anything salty.

Albarino- this may not be the most recognizable wine at your tailgate party (and some go against my screw cap suggestion), but it will be absolutely delicious! Crisp and clean, Albarino will go with any grilled seafood or seafood dip at the party. Favorites include the Burgans Albarino (great value at $14) and the Bodegas Fillaboa (also about $14).

Malbec – the perfect wine for grilled meats, hamburgers and hotdogs and just drinking on its own at a party. I'm going with the Ben Marco '08 Malbec here as we've got a great deal on it at $15.99 (down from $20). Mainly because this is a BIG Malbec. It's ripe and jammy with a spicy kick – it's a great match with food, but in particular, easy (maybe too easy) just sipping on its own.

No matter what you pick for your tailgates – beer, bourbon or wine, I hope you enjoy that general football season warmth – fall weather rolling in, the sound of the stadium roars and a chance to be a crazy fan. Me? I'll be watching my Virginia Wahoos as they take on the season with their new coach and new attitude. Are we in for a renaissance of Virginia football? One can only hope!

Favorite non-Champagne Bubblies for Valentine’s Day

heart boxFlowers, chocolate and bubbly. Somehow Valentine’s Day has a marketing hold on all three. The history of Valentine’s Day is slightly hazy, though mid-February as time of romance dates back to Pagan festivals in ancient Rome. In the 5th century, however, the Pope declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day, giving the holiday a Christian orientation. There were at least three St. Valentines, though it is thought that St. Valentine’s Day was named for the one from the third century who lived and died during the reign of Emperor Claudius.  Okay, that’s enough history for now, let’s move onto one of Valentine’s Day’s celebration accessories – BUBBLES. Something about celebrating love means breaking out sparkling wine. And indeed, sparkling wine is something to swoon over, and has been known to make one swoon. These days, however, grabbing that bottle of Dom Perignon is tougher on people’s wallets. Champagne prices are still fairly pricey, and for those of us who want to celebrate with a glass of bubbles, but want to keep spending in check, here are some excellent non-Champagne sparklers to try on this Valentine’s Day.
Oh, and make sure you tune in to View from the Bay on Wednesday, February 10th, where we taste and talk about these delicious bottles!

Nino Franco Rus tico Prosecco ($16.99) – Prosecco, often known for the perfect bubbly for bellinis and mimosas, comes shining through here as what they term, a “Champagne look-alike.” From the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC, this wine does show some amazing sparkles for the money. It is bright, crisp, full of citrus and mineral notes and seriously persistent bubbles. Elegant, lovely, refreshing.

Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14.99) – Hailing from New Mexico, how can you NOT try this wine – it’s sparkling wine from New Mexico! In 1984, Champagne producer Gilbert Gruet planted an experimental vineyard of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in New Mexico. His family re-located and began focusing on making American sparkling wine using the traditional – or Champagne – method. They produce a number of wines, including a Rose, a Blanc de Blancs, a Demi-Sec and a Blanc de Noirs. Lots of juicy red fruit on this wine, rich in the palate. This is more on the full bodied side and perfect with food!

Roederer Estate Brut ($18.99) – From the Champagne house of the same name (Louis Roederer), this NV sparkler is a go-to favorite! Love this wine! Balanced, delicious, a perfect blend of citrus, stone fruit, mineral and toast. Fantastic bubbles, uber-long finish, creamy texture. Total rockin bubbly.

Jansz Premium Rose – ($19.99) -  This wine is actually owned by Yalumba, a fantastic Australia producer located in Barossa. This wine, however, is made from grapes from Tasmania, a very cool climate, indeed. Bright red fruit, crisp acid, terribly refreshing and just really pretty.