10 Ways to Drink Bravely for the Holidays
1) To awe your guests, serve a magnum of wine, which is inherently celebratory but not necessarily expensive (e.g., Gruet sparkling wine or Jaboulet “Parallel 45” Cotes du Rhone). Have all of the guests sign the big bottle with a permanent marker.
2) Instead of a big-name bubbly, try a grower Champagne, which are essentially “indie Champagnes” prized for their individual personalities and fair prices.
3) Celebrate the holidays with a bottle of mature (i.e., aged) wine, which is easy to find in good wine shops and not necessarily expensive. The wine’s unusual taste and vintage year will make a special occasion even more memorable.
4) Discover Rueda, a tangy Spanish white that delivers more flavor for the buck than Pinot Grigio. Try drinking it via a porrón, a glass pitcher traditionally used with the Spanish sparkler cava. The porrón’s tapered spout allows a group of people to drink from it without having to make lip contact.
5) Freeze some Moscato D’Asti in an ice tray, then chop it up, which essentially creates a simple form of granita, or flavored flakes of ice. Sprinkle the iced bits over fruit and serve it with glasses of Moscato D’Asti on the side.
6) Use Tawny Port to introduce yourself to the nutty, caramel-tinged pleasures of Port. Try it with peanut brittle and your mind will be blown.
7) Build a night around opening a bottle of fine Madeira, a neglected treasure known for its caramel-and-molasses character and for-the-ages durability.
8) Opt for a red from the Loire Valley. Their light-to-medium weight and zesty red-berry flavors are splendidly versatile with food, including the spectrum of flavors at holiday tables.
9) To bring holiday cheer, try drinking a rich, moderately oaky red like California Cabernet through a licorice stick, as Stag’s Leap Cellars’ winemaker Nicki Pruss has been known to do.
10) Apply the beautifully floral Torrontés to your lover’s pulse points.
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Mark Oldman is the author of Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine, a wine writer for Everyday with Rachael Ray, and a renowned speaker at such venues as the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. He lives in New York City.