Putting the “Win” in Wine This Holiday Season
According to the shared calendar observed by major craft supply retailers everywhere, it’s the holiday season, and you’re already behind. There’s overpriced fall foliage to buy for your tablescape, gourd scented candles needed in the guest bathroom, a 10k to train for, presents to buy and wrap and arrange in an Instagram-worthy way, and half of your holiday guests have food allergies. With so many pinecones to juggle, is it any wonder that you’re feeling burned out?
There is some good news. Holiday season means it’s wine season! And with a few pro tips from local connoisseurs in your back pocket, you will be pairing and pouring with confidence this year like the holiday hero you are.
You can’t please everyone. But bubbles can.
The tricky part about hosting is that you’re hosting people. And people have opinions, especially when it comes to what’s in their glass. Mom likes chardonnay, Brother thinks white wine is Mom Juice, Dad strictly drinks Napa cab, and Nana likes her sweet wine. But no one can argue that fizz is fun. Champagne is the poster child for celebrations, after all. And according to Monica Wright, manager at WineHaus, sparkling wine “is the best to start any meal with family and friends.” Her go-to is often a sparkling rosé because, “that little pop of pink makes it feel more festive.” Mikey Riojas, sommelier at The Magnolia Wine Bar, shares Wright’s sentiment. “[Sparkling rosé] is a way to kick off the holidays with a big family. We all have different tastes, but this wine comes in handy because it makes everyone happy.”
Acidity keeps things interesting.
You know that swirly sensation you feel under your earlobes when you eat a lemon candy? That’s your sensory response to acidity, which is a necessary component to the ultimate balance of a wine. And although white wines are generally perceived to have more acidity than red wines, don’t overlook certain red varietals such as pinot noir, sangiovese, or gamay. Offering a selection of both red and white will surely please the table and hold up to whatever dish is on your menu, says Riojas. “A lot of people are coming around to the idea that wines with a healthy acidity are the key to heavy food or food with a lot of fat. White wines like a fresh Burgundy chardonnay will give the palate a refresh between bites. Sauvignon blanc from Sancerre is usually fresh and zingy and will do the trick as well. For reds, pinot noir can sometimes be the fresh cranberry note that tops off turkey or ham.”
I know what you’re thinking. Turkey and ham are overrated. And if you’re like my family, you smoke a brisket instead. Not to worry. Bringing a little France to your Texas feast is just the ticket. Wright is a sucker for pinot noir’s fair cousin, gamay. “I like a good clean Beaujolais with the hearty stuff because it offsets that weightiness of it.”
Let it breathe.
Just like you need a breather after trying to navigate Central Market’s aisles the week before any holiday, taking a breath helps wine, too. In addition to adding an elegant flair to your table, decanting red wine serves multiple purposes. And it’s not just for expensive bottles. According to Riojas, “you can decant a wine if you have sediment forming in the bottle and you want to separate the two. Sediment can come from age, but it can also appear if a wine is unfiltered. You can also decant a wine when you want air to get in contact with the wine. Sometimes younger wines, wines with heavy oak usage, or a combination of both benefit from getting a little oxygen in the wine.” Oxidation and evaporation open the wine, allowing for a smoother and often fruitier drinking experience. Decanting time can get very technical depending on the style of wine, but Riojas says, in most cases, to leave the wine for an hour or two before serving. “I like to taste a little bit of the wine straight out of the bottle and put the rest in the decanter for comparison. Checking back frequently is part of the fun.”
Drink what you like.
Certain wines and foods go together like, well, turkey and gravy. (I know I said turkey was overrated; however, I still respect the tradition.) But your glass is your prerogative. Wright loves Burgundy. Riojas loves Syrah. I love a different wine every week. The point is to enjoy your holiday season, whether it comes in a bottle, can, or dare I say, box.
If you want to preserve your strength for other tasks, Monica and Mikey have shared their favorite wines to feature with any celebratory brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Monica’s Holiday Picks
WineHaus offers more than 16 wines on tap. Wine lovers can fill up a growler (750 ml bottle) to take home and enjoy or peruse their wine wall.
- 2019 Trefethen Dry Riesling, Napa Valley, CA / $30
- 2019 Pratsch Rosé, Austria / $27
- 2018 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA / $45
Mikey’s Holiday Picks
The Magnolia Wine Bar has an extensive list, with over 200 wines that are available for purchase.
- 2018 RAEN ‘Royal St Robert’ Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, CA / $68
- Domaine Robert Serol ‘Turbullent’ Sparkling Rosé, Loire Valley, France / $38
- 2019 Pascal Jolivet Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, France / $45
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5, and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her husband, talking about her cat.