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Holiday Par-TAY Wines Part II

Ok, let's be honest, you knew I was not going to leave out my favorite varietals from my holiday line-up.

Next Stop: Italy

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One of the absolute best "bang-for-your-buck" wines out there comes in the form of Frescobaldi's "Nipozzano" Chianti Riserva. Made in the traditional way, using well aged oak vats, this wine presents an "Old World" rustic nose of black cherry, rich tobacco, smoked meat and spice. On the palate, as with most Italian reds, you get a modest, but not unbalanced or unpleasant acidity. It features rich dark fruit notes of black cherry, black currant, stewed prunes and sweet tobacco. The finish is smooth and leaves your mouth watering and wanting for another taste. This is probably the most versatile of all of this week's wines. Enjoy it with hors d'oeuvres such as Swedish meatballs, cocktail sausages, sliced deli meats like pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage and Prosciutto. You can also pair it with heartier meals such as roast beef, lasagna or spaghetti.

Price range: $17-$25

Sonoma Zinfandel: I got it right!

This next wine holds a special place in my wine history. Please bear with me. When I was completing my classes from the Master Court of Sommeliers, my instructor, the well-known Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan, (NOT the basketball player, as he is quick to point out), pulled me out of the crowd of eighty-five students and had me walk the class through a blind tasting.

I had the standard four-and-a-half minutes to describe the color, intensity, aromas, taste, and finish of a red wine that he handed me. I completed my analysis and came up with my final decision: I was handed a "New World Zinfandel, from California, Sonoma Coast AVA, 2011 vintage."

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Michael Jordan turned away from me, pulled the bottle out of the brown bag he had it in, put it back in the bag. Then he turned back towards me, smiled and said, "Ok, big guy, would you care to tell me what vineyard it's from?" 

"Nope!" I said, "I think I'll stop there. Do I still get my bottle of wine?" 

He pulled the bottle out of the bag and handed it to me: the 2011 Sonoma Coast Zinfandel from Seghesio.

Since that day, I have always enjoyed that memory every time I open a bottle of Seghesio's Zinfandel. The way I could tell this was a Sonoma Coast and not a Napa Zin was the absence of oak notes on the nose. Instead, the Seghesio Zin presents full bodied aromas of dark fruits and old book leather. On the palate, this wine fills your mouth with big bold flavors of dark plums, and rich blackberries. The finish is long and smooth with lingering dark fruit combined with cocoa powder and sweet tobacco.

You want to savor this wine, but you also want another drink. Pair it with meat dish hors d'oeuvres or main courses such as prime rib, beef or pork ribs, ham or the Old World favorite, goose.

Price range: $18-$26

And don't forget the Cab!

Lastly, no holiday party would be complete without a good cabernet. The one I selected this week is an excellent "value cab."

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The Trailhead Cabernet is a straightforward, no frills—but no disappointments—California cabernet. It features bright notes of cherry, boysenberry and vanilla on the nose. On the palate, big, juicy flavors of cherry, boysenberry and spice. The finish is medium with lingering fruit notes and a hint of vanilla. Enjoy it alone, with hors d'oeuvres, main courses of all varieties or with a rich, decadent chocolate cake for dessert.

Price range: $10-$15

I hope that you will try all of these wines at some point in time. If you are hosting a party this holiday season, you can feel confident that any of these wines will please and impress even your most ardent wine drinking guests. Best of all, they will not cost you a small fortune. Enjoy! May all of you have a happy  and enjoyable Christmahanuquanzika! And thank you for making this year an enjoyable one at my store. Those of you whom I have had the pleasure of assisting in person have made my year and my job enjoyable. 

CHEERS!!!  🍷