Wine buying increases significantly around Christmas, and with good reason. Wines are inherently festive, and when you’re looking for something special to have at Christmas dinner or with dessert, wine just seems the perfect choice. Wine also makes a great gift. It’s usually appreciated, especially if your choice shows you put some thought into it.
But how do you find the best wine for Christmas? Here are some tips to guide you through.
Fit the Wine to the Purpose
There is no single best wine. Each wine has its proper time and place, and finding the best wine for Christmas means understanding how to fit the wine to its time. So, before you start shopping, think of the occasion when you think the wine might be drunk if you’re buying it for drinking on Christmas Day. Will it be drunk with dinner? Or with dessert? Or perhaps it’s the wine that gets opened late into the night when you and all your friends or family? The occasion when wine will be drunk puts you a fair way toward finding the right choice.
Match Christmas Dinner Wines to the Meal
We all know the old saw about white wine being best for poultry, so that should make it a simple choice for Christmas, if turkey’s being served, right? Not necessarily. Turkey is poultry, but it’s a lot richer in flavor. And if you (or your family) are serving lots of rich, savory sides, it might be a good idea to choose a Pinot Noir. Choose a white if the bird is a lighter flavor, or if you’ve prepared it with some fruity flavors. If there is a chicken or similarly light bird, then a Chardonnay makes a great choice. If you’ve got a beef roast slated for dinner, then a Merlot makes a great selection. What about ham? Ham can be prepared many different ways. If it’s a honeyed ham, consider a dry wine that will be a nice contrast.
Dessert wines should also be paired to the type of food, but because dessert is often a little more freeform, you may have some more freedom about choices. So you can essentially pick the wine and tell people what it goes well with. So, for example, if you pick up a nice port, you can recommend eating it with dark chocolate or a rich fudge. On the other hand, the Gentil “Hugel” is a great pairing with pumpkin pie. It’s reasonable to imagine the dessert you’re most looking forward to and picking a wine to go with that. If everyone does this, then you’ll end up with a good set of dessert wines.
So how do you choose that perfect wine for the late-night conversations that want to stretch close to dawn? You might be tempted to pick something lighter, but maybe this is the best time to choose something with a really bold flavor that will awaken your taste buds. A great one to bring out is the Faust Cabernet Sauvignon. This lush, fruity wine may not be as well appreciated at this time of night as it might be at other times, but it will be appreciated a lot more than other wines you might choose.
Choosing Gift Wines
So, what do you do if you’re looking for a wine gift for someone? Again, here, you have a little bit more control, because when you give them the wine, you can recommend when they might drink it. But that doesn’t help you to narrow it down.
But here are some tips that will help.
Know Your Recipient
In general, wine is a better gift if you take the time to really figure out what wines the recipient likes. Do some research. Ask yourself about the wines they like, have someone else ask, or do some sleuthing by looking at a few bottles they have on hand.
Let Yourself Spend More
We know, you wouldn’t spend $70 on an everyday bottle of wine. But Christmas isn’t just any day, and you want this gift to really feel special. So raising the budget above what you’d normally spend only makes sense. But don’t let this become a trap. You don’t have to spend more if you find the right wine.
When in Doubt, Buy Something Unusual
Just as will the price, the variety should be something that makes the gift seem more special. If you’re just buying the same wine that they tend to drink all the time, it won’t mean as much. But if you pick something surprising that they’ve never seen before, it makes an impression. And, if nothing else, it becomes a conversation topic. Even if you select a brand that disappoints, that’s something you share and you’ll know to avoid it in the future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If you get stuck and aren’t sure what will make the best choice, just ask an associate to help you. At Applejack, our people are friendly and always happy to help. Just be sure to remember that everyone’s a little harried art the holidays, so be patient.
No matter what wine you end up selecting for your Christmas meal, dessert, or gift, we hope the holiday is wonderful for you and yours. And we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2018!