Red may be the color of the season — what with Santa’s suit and Rudolph’s shiny nose — but what if you’re dreaming of a white wine Christmas?
No problem, says Doug Bell, national wine buyer for Whole Foods Market. “The holidays are the times when you just break all those wine mores and try different things,” he points out.
With that settled, where to start when making your holiday sip list?
Chardonnay’s always a good fallback. It goes well with poultry, a staple of the season’s eatings, it’s versatile, it’s familiar and, gosh darn it, people like it. There’s a reason this is America’s No. 1 table wine.
Still, you can shake things up a little by widening your geographical palate and trying a chardonnay that comes from someplace other than California. Whole Food’s Top 10 list of holiday wines includes a Domaine de Bernier chardonnay from the Loire Valley in France that can be found for under $10.
Mike DeSimone, coauthor with Jeff Jenssens of the recently published “Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide,” thinks Old World when picking winter whites.
“Since Christmas falls during the colder months — at least here in the northern hemisphere — it’s a great time to stock up on cold-weather whites from Burgundy or Alsace,” he says. “They can be less expensive than you might expect. We keep a few in gift bags in the trunk of the car in case we’ve forgotten anyone as we make our holiday rounds.”
He recommends Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2011, for $15, from Burgundy, which pairs well with chicken, turkey or fish. Or, from Alsace for $20, try Lucien Albrecht Reserve Pinot Gris Romanus 2010, which goes well with lightly spiced veal or pork.
Jenssen, meanwhile, likes two chardonnays from New Zealand, Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, for $18, and Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2009, for $20. (All prices approximate.) “Both are produced in a classic French style and the citrus and fruit notes are nicely balanced by flavors of vanilla and toast. I would pour either of these with chicken or fish in cream sauce or even a fancy macaroni and cheese.”