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Your Ultimate Holiday Wine Shopping List

Well, this is it folks: the last post of 2017. It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and 2018 is looking to be even more fun. As I promised last time, I have prepared a “quick hit list” of some of the best wines for you to share this holiday season. I am going to start off with the whites and then the reds, and lastly, I will provide a short summary of some of my favorite dessert wines and ports.

To start, ALL of these wines are delicious, some are light, some are a bit more “weighty,” but ALL of them will please even the most “snobby” of your wine guests. Remember, this time of year is about getting together and having fun, reminiscing and making future plans with our friends and families. Have fun, and enjoy a glass or two. Know when to say “when,” and make sure your loved ones get home safely.

Without further ado, my list of white wines for your holiday get togethers:

I’ll start with the “lighter” whites. For those pre-dinner chat sessions and snack trays, I recommend starting with the following:
- Chateau St. Michelle’s “EROICA” Riesling (rēz•ling). This is an off-dry (not sweet) Riesling.
- A-to-Z Riesling. This, too, is an off-dry (not sweet) Riesling.
- Qupé Marsanne-Roussanne. A light notes of peach, apple and tangerine, and just a hint of
- Laurent Miquel Viognier. Light, rich, smooth, notes of apple, melon and oranges.
- Guenoc “Lillie’s” Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp, melon, apricots and nectarines
- Emolo Sauv Blanc. Structured, elegantly balanced, green apple, kiwi, melon and lemon grass.
- Dry Creek Fumé Blanc. Full-bodied, Golden apple, white peach, lemon grass
- Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc. Crisp, honeydew melon, lemon grass, apricots.
- Casteggio Pinot Grigio. Light, crisp, finish of lime zest.
- Zenato Pinot Grigio. Medium, notes of lemon-lime, smooth finish.
- Smoking Loon’s “Steel Bird”. An unoaked Chardonnay, light, crisp, green apples and melon.
- Joel Gott’s “Unoaked” Chardonnay. Honeydew melon and green apples, hint of kiwi.

And now for the “heavier” whites:

- Four Vines “The Willing” unoaked Chardonnay. Mangoes, pineapple, yellow apple, medium crispness.
- Ferrari Carano Chardonnay. Golden Delicious apples, vanilla, peach, creamy finish.
- DeLoach Chardonnay. Yellow apples, vanilla, whipped butter.
- Sequoia Grove Chardonnay. Smooth, creamy, elegant. Baked yellow apples, vanilla bean, hint of
- Gundlach-Bundschu Chardonnay. Golden Delicious apple, peach, Honeysuckle, warm vanilla notes.
- Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. Green apples, melon, white peach, hint of ginger and vanilla.
- Rombauer Chardonnay. Yellow apple, cream, smooth with moderate oak finish.
- Cakebread Chardonnay. Big, rich creamy butter notes, vanilla and baked yellow apples.

Now let’s move on to the reds.

We’ll start with the light reds:


- La Crema ‘Sonoma Coast’ Pinot Noir. Strawberry, raspberry, light vanilla and oak.
- Decoy Pinot Noir. Red plum, raspberry, cherry and sweet oak.
- DeLoach Pinot Noir. Blackberry, plum, black cherry, spice.
- Etude Pinot Noir. Black raspberry, Bing cherry, dark plum, oak.
- Cherry Pie Pinot Noir. Rich cherry sauce, jammy red plum, sweet oak

Now the big boys:


- Silverado’s St George Vineyards Merlot. Big rich notes of plum, and cherry. Vanilla finish.
- Benziger Merlot. Deep rich cherry sauce. Stewed plums, clove and black pepper finish.
- Duckhorn Merlot. Big, luscious cherry, plum, blackberry and spice.
- Joel Gott. A less expensive version of the Duckhorn Merlot. Similar flavors and aromas.
All of these Merlots are excellent quality wines. They will make you a popular host/hostess or a guest at any holiday party.


- Caymus Cabernet
- Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet
- Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet
- Jordan Cabernet
- BV Rutherford Cabernet
- Frank Family Cabernet
- Pine Ridge Cabernet
- Chateau Montelena Cabernet
- Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet
- Rutherford Ranch Cabernet
- Sequoia Grove Cabernet
- Joseph Phelps Cabernet
All of these Cabernets are big, bold, and loaded with lots of dark fruit notes like blackberry, black cherry, plum, some raisin, dark rich earth notes, and oak spices and oak finishes that range from light to heavy. ALL of them are exceptional Cabernets that will not disappoint you. Just pick one at the price point that is comfortable for your budget, and enjoy!

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for. My favorite dessert and port wines for holiday parties. Let’s start off with the light ones and end with the more indulgent, rich ones.

Why a dessert wine? Your holiday meal is over, and you want something to sip on that will not only taste good, or go with that after dinner dessert, but one that may even cover up some of the after tastes of your meal. Fortunately there are many dessert wines to choose from.

- Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti is light, has aromas of white flowers, peach and vanilla on the nose. It has light flavors of peach and apricot, with a delicate hint of effervescence. Great to enjoy alone or with madeleines, short bread cookies, angel food cake, or pudding.
- Badia a Coltibuono’s Vin Santo is an after dinner treat of the next level. Aromas of dried fruits, such as peaches and apricots, along with maple syrup and vanilla delight your senses and fit the holiday (pardon the expression) ‘terrior’. The palate shows sweet maple and creamy molasses with accents of apricot and vanilla. Drink it by itself or pair it with crème brûlée, baklava, or crackers with a fig compote.

- Far Niente’s “Dolce” late harvest dessert wine is a California exclusive. The vineyard is the only one of its kind in California, dedicated solely to the production of a Sauternes-like dessert wine. It has a beautiful bouquet of oranges, honeysuckle, butterscotch and vanilla. The palate is a treat of crème brûlée, orange blossom, honey and toasted caramel that coats your tongue with a sweet, syrupy, delicious blanket of flavors that evoke the spirit of the holidays.
Like the Vin Santo, you can (and in my humble opinion) SHOULD, enjoy this by itself, or you could pair it with Dutch Butter cookies, or my favorite, the original sugar cookies from The Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, Ca.

- Graham’s “Six Grapes” Porto is a rich, fruity delight. Boasting notes of deep, dark cherry, blackberry, cassis, raisin and plum, the Six Grapes Port is one of my favorite after dinner drinks. The palate has intense notes of blackberry and raisin, accented with hints of black cherry. It is such a beautifully executed style of ruby port that I have never tried to pair it with anything. However, if I had to, I would pair it with a decadent, layered chocolate cake, or baklava. I’m certain both would make a great dessert combination.

- One of my all time favorite ports. Ware’s ‘Otima’ 10 year old tawny Port. This port shows luscious aromas of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. The palate is silky smooth, and featured flavors of toasted almonds, toffee, caramel and vanilla. Again, I have never paired it with anything other than an after dinner pipe with similar aromas/flavors tobacco. But you could easily pair this with fresh baked Madelines, or pecan pie.

I hope you enjoy this post. Thank you to everyone who has made this year a joy. I look forward to seeing many of you in the new year, and please have a safe and happy holiday season! God Bless! And CHEERS!!!
- Michael F. Moore, aka: The Wine Old Owl