It's that time of year again - Holiday Wine Picks! These are my favorites right now - perfect to take to a party, give as a gift, or open for your table!
Wine is Gluten Free, thank goodness - or I'd be pretty hard to be around. Got questions about Gluten in Wine? Read: Is Wine Gluten Free? The Answer from a Gluten Free Wine-Drinking Foodie.
My Favorite Whites:
Conundrum from the Wagner Family- an intensely aromatic & lush blend of five white grapes that I simply love - and so does everyone else I've poured it for. A unique representation of the California wine industry in a bottle - there is simply nothing like Conundrum.
Viognier - John Simpson Vineyard from Idle Hour Winery - I've long been a champion of the crisp citrus & honey notes of the Viognier grape, and Idle Hour's representation is a near-perfect blend of beautiful fruit and light-handed winemaking.
Chardonnay - Stainless Unoaked from Chamisal Vineyards - You'll almost never catch me telling you I LOVE a Chardonnay, I like a lot of them, but for me to LOVE a wine enough to put it on my Holiday favorites list, it's gotta be one to remember. This Chardonnay explodes with fresh fruit - and it's so rich, you'll never miss the oak. The mineral notes given by Central Coast soil keep the crisp apple, lemon and apricot flavors grounded. Yum.
My Favorite Reds: They say you can tell a girl's character from the color of her lips. I'm not sure about that, but I can tell what kind of wine she drinks.
Zinfandel - Fatboy from Tobin James - I've met a few Zins I like as much, but never met one I like better. It's a big 'ol dark Fruit Bomb from a winery where "subtle" is a dirty word. Tons of plum & berry, a hint of spice and light oak - I'm sure Fatboy a great wine to lay down for a couple of years, but I'll probably never know, because even if I could wait that long (I can't) my buddy Stephanie wouldn't let me. Zin Love.
Pinot Nior - Laetitia Estate from Laetitia Vineyard & Winery - A blend of 10 Pinot clones found on the Laetitia property, this wine is a perfect example of why many wine lovers were Pinot-obessed even before the movie Sideways. A lovely medium-full body with berry notes.
Sweet & Sparkling:
Flor Prosecco Rose - private label by Mario Batali & Lidia and Joe Bastianich - My love for Pink Prosecco began years ago at Chef Tom Douglas' Serious Pie (before I knew I had celiac) and has stayed with me since. Flor is my current favorite, with lots of stone fruit flavors and velvety foam. It's a private label wine that's pretty widely available, look for it online or in independent wine shops. I buy it at Vino & Friends.
Pink Moscato from Green Eyes by San Joaquin Wine Co. - A beautifully blush muscat with yummy berry notes, it's no wonder this has become the most popular wine in the Green Eyes lineup. For after dinner, with cheese or for those who love the sweet stuff, it's hard to beat this wine.
Tawny Port, 10 Year from Ficklin Vineyards - Winemaker Peter Ficklin's 160 barrel solera system (photo above) is something to see, it's even more to taste. At the end of a fabulous meal or with berries or chocolate, their is simply nothing like Ficklin's 10 year Tawny Port. As a side note - I've been lucky enough to sample the 1957 Vintage Port at from Ficklin Vineyards, and if you choose to purchase one of the few bottles left in their wine library, I can promise a cognac, toffee, tobacco experience you'll never forget. It changed my understanding of wine.
Awesome Wine Gifts: A Wine Club Membership from a winery you love is a gift that they can enjoy all year long. Always a great choice.
Here are some fabulous gift ideas at different price ranges:
Holiday Gift Box from San Joaquin Wine Co. $25-$18 - choose two Moody Press Cellars or Green Eyes wines, hand packed in an attractive gift box for you.
Alegria Reserve Gift Pack from Birdstone Winery $55 - our friends at Birdstone offer their two Alegria Reserve wines (Chardonnay & Zinfandel, proceeds benefit Children's Hospital) with gourmet Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olives & a Birdstone Winery wine opener. They're happy to make the gift Gluten Free by swapping out the olives for Pomegranate Vinaigrette or Feta Stuffed Olives, just make a note on the order form.
Silver Oak Two Bottle Wooden Box $195 - A limited edition box containing Silver Oak's fabulous 2007 Alexander Valley and 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons
Mondovino $8 - the documentary that proves that although wine is made all over the earth, the wine world is very, very small.
Wine Wars $14 - a trivia game for wine geeks & wannabes that tests your knowledge of the fruit of the vine!