With Christmas just a few days away, I’m sure everyone is planning their menus. It can be tough to narrow down which wines will go well with your families’ Christmas Eve or Day meal, as there are so many different meals that people like to prepare.
My family, like most Italian families, does the traditional seafood Christmas Eve meal. If you are cooking the fish in a marinara or Fra diavolo sauce, I would stick with the reds. I find the Italian wines from Tuscany to work the best. The fruit and spice in these wines really comes to life when drinking them with the shellfish and red sauce combo.
On the super value side the Vitiano Falesco and Banfi Centine are a couple of favorites. Both are Super Tuscan blends (Cab, Merlot and Sangiovese) and run from $7.50-11.
For around $15-20 you can move up to the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre. It is a different style blend that includes some dried fruit (similar to how they make Amarone) which gives it a great texture. It consistently gets high ratings, and with good reason. The same goes for the Monsanto Chianti Classico. You really can’t go wrong with either of these for under $20.
If you really want to splurge, check out the Argiano Solengo IGT Super Tuscan blend or the Pio Cesare Barolo. Both will run $40-60, but are outstanding Italian wines that rival some of the cult wines that run 3-4 times their price. These are serious, yet fun, wines for this meal.
Some folks do the seafood in a white wine, or olive oil, based sauce. In this case you really have a lot of options. I like Chardonnay with the hearty shellfish, Columbia Crest Grand Estates being my favorite on the value side. I just had the Sterling Napa Chardonnay the other night with a shrimp dish and was very impressed. That should also run under $17. And of course the standard Italian whites, Pinot Grigio and Gavi, will pair extremely well with this style too.
One thing I want to mention about Pinot Grigio…everyone flocks to Santa Margherita. Granted, it is a delicious wine, but there are so many others out there in the same ballpark without the name and that don’t cost $20. A-Mano makes an excellent one for under $10, and so does Zenato. Are they as good? Depending on your palate and what you like, they may not be or they may be better! It just goes back to sometimes you are simply paying for the name.
As for the Christmas Day meal, that usually involves more meats, potatoes, veggies, etc….so you really can use a lot of the same pairings I mentioned in the Thanksgiving wines post. However, if you are going Ham or Pork, a nice Cab will do the trick as opposed to the Turkey where Zin is really the way to go.
There are so many options with California Cabernet that it is hard to go through them all. I will say this; Sonoma and Paso Robles will give you the best values. Right now I am really digging the Louis Martini Sonoma Cab and the Castle Rock Paso Robles, both for under $12. The Justin Paso Robles Cab and the Beringer Knights Valley are a big step up and run $17-25.
As for the big dogs, when you are spending over $30 on a Napa Cab, it’s pretty tough to find a bad one. So ask the salesperson at your wine store to give you a hand as to what is on sale or a better value than others.
As for where to get these wines in Westchester, Rye Brook Wine and Spirits http://www.ryebrookwines.com really has a great system for ordering online and being able to pick up your order at the store. They will even deliver for free if you are close enough and order enough wine. However, the online sale prices can be SIGNIFICANTLY lower than the in store prices, so be sure to place the order online.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!! ….I’ll leave off the Happy New Year part as the New Year’s Bubbles post will be coming next week