When it comes to holiday entertaining, the primary questions most hosts face are: what to cook, who to invite and does Uncle Charlie really have to come?
Here in Wine Country, where priorities skew a little more liquid, the No. 1 question is often: what to drink?
In my greener, wetter days, I’d have simply answered, “Everything.” But now that I’m a more discerning imbiber of holiday cheer, I’ve narrowed the spectrum a bit so we shan’t see any cooking sherry or Night Train chugging in from the fringe. For a grittier experience, read Mark Fernquest’s guide to local dive bars in this week’s “Press Pass.”
Instead, I’ll introduce you to Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year,” the Dominus Estate Napa Valley 2018. Rated at 97 points—yep, their top wine couldn’t reach 100 points, way to withhold affection, Spectator—this beauty runs about $269 a bottle, which is about $260 more than I generally care to pay for a wine. That said, for those who want a ranked wine that won’t destroy their credit rating, consider No. 41, the Rapaura Springs Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Classic, which scored 91 points and runs a mere $13. Boasting notes of “lemongrass and makrut lime leaf”—man, do I love wine reviewers—this 2020 vintage comes with the proviso, “drink now.”
Those willing to roll the dice on a label that looks more like a word scramble might bravely throw $20 at No. 68 in order to see what happens when they open the “Etxaniz Txakolina Getariako Txakolina Rosado Txomin Etxaniz.” I have no idea what this means. Nobody does. It’s a wine that was named by a cat walking across a laptop.
Our own “Best Sommelier” title-winner, Christopher Sawyer, arrived on my doorstep last night with a handsome bottle of the Lasseter Family Winery 2017 Enjoué, an elegant, pretty and piquantly dry rosé that’s become my favorite way to chase away the winter blues. This wine is a lazy summer day captured in a bottle and boasts notes of strawberry, ruby grapefruit, mango and a few delightfully stolen kisses. Whatsmore, it’s a steal at $28.
Those looking for a wine of a deeper hue, and perhaps from lower on the shelf, can’t look any lower than the bottom shelf of the Petaluma Market’s wine aisle, where they will find the Silver Ridge Pinot Noir, which consistently delivers splendid notes of light spice and pungent berry, and hovers enticingly at around $9. This is a markedly better wine than its price point would suggest, and it frequently sells out. If we encounter each other reaching for the last bottle, please know that I’ve fought harder for much less. Happy Holidays.