Wine and the Holidays: A Guide to Giving and Sharing

‘Tis the season…to think wine! If your holiday tasks include selecting gifts or hosting the family dinner, wine should be on your list. Fine wine is a gift sure to please and a festive complement to any holiday celebration and finding the right wine(s) can be easy and stress-free.

As a holiday gift, wine couldn’t be easier. Always in fashion. Always in good taste. Always fits. Only three colors (white, red and rose) from which to choose – simply pick the one the recipient likes best. No assembly needed. No batteries required.

Perhaps best of all, a gift of wine needn’t break the budget. There are great bottles of wines available in every price range. Fine wine is so affordable, it is possible to put together a gift collection – two, three or even four bottles – for well under $100.

Special bottles make special gifts. For example, Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic red that any wine lover would treasure in his or her cellar. For an impressive red ready to enjoy now, consider Valley of the Moon Winery Cuvee de la Luna, a smooth and elegant Bordeaux-inspired blend. For a gift with a bit of variety, one could give a selection of wines from a single great vineyard, like a bottle each of Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel and Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Merlot. A gift of superb bubbly is always appreciated, and sparkling wines like Korbel Natural Russian River Valley champagne and Korbel Chardonnay California champagne fill the bill nicely.

If special bottles seem “over the top” as gifts, bottles of favorites are always welcome. Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and Sonoma County Merlot are hugely popular for good reason – they are consistently delicious. Valley of the Moon Winery Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Sonoma County Zinfandel may be slightly more difficult to find, but are similarly tasty and unintimidating.

Most wine shops and markets offer gift bags and boxes that make wrapping wine for the holidays easy. Add a card and your holiday gift is good to go.

Selecting wine to share at the holiday feast is equally effortless. Holiday meals typically include a broad array of foods, so the best choices are easy-drinking, versatile wines. Pinot Noir pairs well with lots of different dishes, and Valley of the Moon Carneros Pinot Noir and Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir are fine examples. Fruit-forward white wines like Valley of the Moon Unoaked Chardonnay and Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Pinot Blanc work well for the same reason. A dry rose like Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese is another good choice. A fine sparkler enhances any holiday feast, and Korbel Brut California champagne and Korbel Blanc de Noirs California champagne pair delightfully with food.

Of course, serving more than one wine at the holiday feast assures everyone gets a wine they like, so don’t be afraid to put a couple of different bottles on the table. It doesn’t have to be a white and a red either; a white and a rose, or even a sparkler and a red, are novel options worth considering.

As for buying enough wine for holiday dinner, using proper stemware and serving those bottles at the right temperature, keep it simple. Assuming each guest drinks two glasses of wine during dinner, figure on buying and serving a bottle for every three or four guests. Stemware with a tulip-shaped champagne glass adds elegance to the holiday meal. Serving temperature depends on the wine. The bubbly should be served cold and needs 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator before opening. White wines should be chilled but not cold and only need an hour in the refrigerator. Red wines should be “cellar temperature” – i.e. just slightly cool.

Whether your holiday includes a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year celebration, remember wine this holiday season. Happy holidays!

Celebrate responsibly.