Wines to Take Home for the Holidays
The holiday season is one of the best times of the year for wine-and-food pairing. Traditional foods like turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce are all wine-friendly foods that will work with both reds and whites. Despite the drop in the dollar, our neighbors down in Chile are still selling great holiday wines for less than $10. The Carménère grape was a big part of Bordeaux's success for centuries until a bug killed all of it in Europe. Chile's border with the Andes prevented the bug from ever attacking its crop, so it has healthy vines more than a century old. The grape's plumlike flavors marry with both turkey and ham, while its earthiness sets off cranberry dishes. The best budget buy comes from Concho y Toro's Casillero del Diablo ($10) line.
In Germany, a "QbA" wine (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete) is a Riesling whose grapes didn't get sweet enough to push the alcohol up to a normal level. Winemakers outside Europe would solve the problem by adding sugar before fermentation, but German authorities frown on that, so they force winemakers who raise their alcohol levels to put the equivalent of a scarlet letter on the label. Ergo QbA. In the meantime, we get those wines for low prices over here, like the perfectly structured $11 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Noble House Riesling.
My favorite turkey wine is a Cru Beaujolais from the Burgundy area of France. These wines have huge cherry and black-pepper aromas and enough acidity to fight through the richest foods on the table. The world has yet to catch on to these Beaujolais' charms, so their price-to-quality ratio is ideal. Georges Duboeuf's Morgon Jean Descombes ($13) is a wonderful version at a bargain price, but if you feel like celebrating, go for Louis Jadot's Clos de Rochegrès Moulin-à-Vent, which, at $30, will beat a number of $100 Burgundies.
Twin Liquors' new Marketplace in Hancock Center has all of the wines; many of their neighborhood stores have the wines, and all can get them. The Dr. Pauly is also available at Whole Foods, and the Concho y Toro is also available at Spec's, Whole Foods, and Central Market.
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