Monday, December 21, 2009

December Holiday Wines

Remember the big Cabs and lush whites we asked you to skip at Thanksgiving? Well, it's late December and it's official: Loosen your wrists and pop those corks.

This month's holiday celebrations typically center about heartier winter fare such as rib roasts, duck and lamb. Pasta-centric Italian families dish out meat lasagne, ragù with rabbit sauce and elaborate veal dishes. Even fish dishes are sauced with a heavier hand this time of year, from beurre blanc to rémoulade. Having chest pain yet?

All these foods scream out for bigger wines. As with Thanksgiving, we suggest at least two wine choices for your holiday guests. Lead off with a lighter-bodied or higher-acid wine to tickle taste buds instead of hammering your guests' palates with the powerhouse red you've been aching to open all year long.

Check out these wines we've spotted around town to help get you through holiday meals with grace and good taste. Starred wines are value-priced at less than $15-20 a bottle at Dan's Wine Shop, LA Wine Company, Cost Plus World Market, Costco or grocers Vons, Albertsons and Ralph's.

Lighter whites: Dry Riesling (Pacific Rim°, Chateau Ste. Michelle°)

Medium-bodied whites: White Burgundy (Mâcon Villages, 2006°), McManis Viognier°

Powerhouse whites: Chardonnay (Trinitas°, California; Luca°, Argentina)

Ligher reds: Dolcetto D'Alba, Pinot Noir (Cambria, Julia's Vineyard 2006°; Becker Estate 2007°, Germany)

Medium-bodied reds: Monte Antico° (Sangiovese-based blend, 2006. Italy), Volver° (Tempranillo, 2007, Spain), Robert Hall Syrah° and Rhône de Robles° 2006, Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages 2007°

Powerhouse reds: Orin Swift's The Prisoner (Zinfandel-based blend, California), Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Cannonball 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon°)

Do you have a special bottle you've saved for your holiday celebration? Stay tuned for a few of our fallen soldiers in the weeks ahead.

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