Now that the pressure of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is out of the way, it is time to plan for Christmas — not buying gifts, but the upcoming holiday meal.
Wine has become an integral part of the Christmas dinner, but it is not necessary to further attack your bank account. There are many fine, affordable wines that will more than adequately fit the bill and complement your choice of food.
Bear Flag 2015 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($30)
Zinfandel wines can often be memorable; this one surely is. This is a bold wine in an attractive gold-embossed bottle that loudly announces its attributes. The color is a deep garnet that heralds the aromas of raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate and boysenberry with hints of vanilla and brown sugar that seem to fill the room when the cork is pulled. The flavor, which mirrors the aroma, totally fills the mouth and lingers for an extraordinarily long time. This is a grand wine and it would truly be a pity not to have it adorn your Christmas table. I would suggest this wine be served slightly chilled —15 minutes in the fridge prior to opening will add to your enjoyment.
Van Duzer 2016 Riesling ($20)
This riesling has been made in the modern dry style and is specifically directed at those who want to enjoy the variety without the excessive sweetness often associated with it. This is a dynamic wine that accentuates all of the fruit flavors the riesling grape can deliver. An apricot character runs through the aroma along with orange blossom and raisins. The aroma has a jasmine quality about it, as well, and a suggestion of violets. The flavor mirrors the aroma with the addition of a hint of lemon. This wine just begs to be served with all of the traditional Christmas dinner dishes, especially turkey, pork and sweet side items.
Wente Riva Ranch 2016 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay ($22)
For the traditionalists who prefer a chardonnay to adorn their table, there can be few found to rival the Wente Riva Ranch 2016 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay. Throughout the entire process of making this wine, extra care has been taken from the selection of the grapes to the winemaking procedures. It resulted in an impeccable wine of great character and distinction. The wine features green apple and tropical fruit in both the aroma and flavor. Coupled with this is a positive oak and vanilla flavor. Unlike many of the lesser chardonnays, this wine has a long, fruity and captivating finish. This is unquestionably one of the best dry white wines for the Christmas table.
MacMurray Estate Vineyards 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($38)
For those who prefer a red wine for their Christmas meal, try this beverage. Before continuing, I must remind the reader that there are many sweet items served at Christmas, so a red that is too dry can be devastating to the dinner. This wine is not overly tannic and is fruity enough to be great red wine choice. The wine presents an inviting ruby color, a firm body, a captivating aroma, a definable flavor and an enduring finish, all wrapped in a smooth, velvet-like robe. The aroma displays cherry, raspberry pomegranate and oak. The flavor is about as classical as it can get with black cherry, spice and a hint of truffles. It all leads to a velvety soft finish that lingers on the palate for a long time.
Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
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