The right wine guide for the end of the year celebrations
As of this writing big parties are out, or at least not recommended, but small gatherings are sure to take place, so instead of buying cheap wines for the masses why not treat your carefully selected guests ( and to yourself) something special?
Wine consumed without food has nowhere to hide, so it has to be good. Sparkling wine and white wine have high levels of acidity, so snacks or appetizers are important both for sobriety and for lining the stomach. Two easy wins, which go very well with wine, are the cheese shortbread (equal amounts of Comté, butter and flour) and one of my childhood favorites: cheese straws. Potato chips are good, crispy fried foods are good, as are almonds, but if you serve good wine, try to avoid peanuts and sweet and spicy foods.
Sparkling wine will certainly create a festive atmosphere. Good champagne is expensive but hard to beat. There are rumors in the trade of a shortage this Christmas, so buy early. Among the most famous brands, Charles Heidsieck, Louis Roederer and Ruinart are my favorites at the moment. There are also some brilliant cavas from Spain (look for names like Raventós i Blanc, Llopart, and Torelló Matá).
I may be guilty of imposing my own biases on readers, as I neglected prosecco, but there are so many better options available. For a sparkling wine for less than € 20, I would prefer the Langlois-Château L’Extra by Langlois NV (€ 18.95), or the Canals Nadal Cava Brut Nature Reserva (€ 19.95), both from O’Briens, or a Crémant de Loire, Burgundy or Alsace. Aldi has again in stock his very good Crémant de Jura (€ 13.99).
The Geal featured here is certainly worth buying in quantity for the coming season. Great value at € 20, this is the perfect all-purpose wine to drink with all kinds of fish and seafood, as well as party appetizers. This is a collaboration between the wine director of O’Briens, Lynne Coyle MW and Sonia Costa from Lagar de Costa in Galicia.
For red wines, choose lighter wines without tannin; A Beaujolais would do well, just like a Bardolino or a Valpolicella. The Valpolicella presented here is not the cheapest option, but it is one of the best. In the distant past, a dry sherry was perhaps the only wine served as an aperitif or as an aperitif. You could do it (Callejuela Manzanilla, € 19, independents would be a good choice), although I would choose my audience carefully – not everyone likes sherry.
Make sure you have a decent alcohol-free option and plenty of water. I will come back to sparkling wines for the holiday season in a few weeks.
Geal Albariño 2020, Rias Baixas
13%, € 19.95
A wonderful and succulent wine with real depth and mouth-watering ripe fruit which is perfectly balanced by a hint of mineral and saline acidity. Perfect solo or with anything fishy.
Of O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Valpolicella 2020, Allegrini
13%, € 21.99
An elegant, very elegant wine with silky red cherry fruit and a smooth, smooth finish. Perfect chic party wine, excellent with grilled veggies and mixed canapes.
Of Alain & Christine’s, Kenmare, acwine.ie; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Clontarf, D3, Clontarfwines.ie wines; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; McHughs, D5, mchughs.ie; The Bear Paw Deli, Co Wicklow, Thebearpawdeli.ie; Wineonline.ie; The Corkscrew, D2, thecorkscrew.ie.
3B Sparkling Rosé, NV Extra Bruto, Portugal
11.5%, 24 € to 26 €
This delicious dry rosé with refined fruit offers excellent value for money. Ripe crunchy currant and raspberry fruit pair well with a wide variety of snack foods and snacks.
Of Lilith Wines, D07; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Clontarf, D3, Clontarfwines.ie wines; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Pinto wines, D9, pintowines.ie; Loose Canon, D2, loosecanon.ie; Martin’s Off License, D3, martinsofflicence.ie; Mannings Emporium, Co Cork, manningsemporium.ie; D-Six Wines, D6; peggykellys.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Supplier, D6W.
Champagne Antoine Bouvet 2015, La Grande Vallée
12%, € 73
A superb small production winegrower’s champagne. This wine will charm all present with its beautiful richness, its brioche, its developed red fruits, its salty element and its dry finish. A nice aperitif with cheese biscuits.
Of 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Cave Blackrock, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Lamplight, Clifden, thelamplight.ie; Neighborhood wine, Dun Laoghaire, Neighborhoodwine.ie; Lilith Wines, D07; Note, Dublin 2; Fishmonger, D07; fish-shop.ie; Table Wine, D08; Lennox St Grocer, Dublin 8, lennoxstreet.ie.