If there were ever a season for a sublime glass of wine, it’s the holidays. Wine can be a sophisticated warm-up from winter’s chill, a mellow reprieve in the crazy bustle of the season, and a fitting toast to the end of one year and the beginning of another.
But, really, who has the time—especially this time of year—to languish over scores and reviews when there are parties to attend, packages to wrap and relatives to greet?
That’s why we tasked master sommeliers with choosing the top bottles they’ll be drinking this season (or wish they’ll be drinking), along with inspired choices for gifting the party host or the wine aficionado. Here’s to calmer living and spot-on wine picks all season long. Salut!
Wines for a Host Gift
“Choosing a bottle of wine to bring to a holiday party can be tricky because you want something that will appeal to a big cross-section of practiced and novice wine drinkers, and you want something with a stunning label,” says master sommelier Randa Warren of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who suggests the 2006 Dolce ($64), a half bottle of California dessert wine made from a blend of late-harvest Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The art nouveau-inspired bottle comes from the only American winery dedicated to producing a single late-harvest wine. “It’s a surprising and elegant choice, and most novice wine drinkers do enjoy sweet wines, so this will appeal to lots of people,” adds Warren.
Master sommelier and respected wine importer Dan Kravitz suggests the 2007 Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère from the Peumo Vineyard in Rapel Valley, Chile. Kravitz describes the deep, dark red as “very soft and friendly.” He also liked the price point just $20—as well as the fact that the Carmenère is a grape varietal that’s still under the radar. “The Carmenère varietal is going to get a lot of buzz in the next couple years, but right now it’s still relatively unknown,” he says. “Bring one to a party, and you’ll look like you really have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening next in the wine world.”