With COVID-19 forcing smaller holiday gatherings this year to avoid spreading the virus, you may be able to splurge on some unique, delicious wines if you’re buying smaller quantities. Sommelier Erin Scala of Common House, a Virginia-based social club with locations in Charlottesville and Richmond, offers some seasonal wine shopping tips covering bubbly, white, red and “other” styles of vino.
For bubbly, try a grower Champagne (produced by the same estate that grows the grapes), such as Gimonnet, Marc Hebrart, Clouet, Egly Ouriet or A. Margaine. Another go-to would be Le Mesnil Grand Cru Champagne. Some great values that taste expensive include Francoise Montand sparkling white wine, Bergerie Crémant de Loire, or Trentapioli sparkling Aspirinio from Italy.
If your family and friends like pinot noir, it’s hard to go wrong with an Oregon pinot noir, such as Belle Pente, Beaux Freres or Antiquum. And if you prefer bolder red wines, you might lean towards a Brunello di Montalcino, a Barolo from Vajra or a red Bordeaux from Pessac-Leognan.
What goes with everything on the table? I’d go for a medium-full bodied white wine with lots of flavor. Something like a Falanghina from Campania in southern Italy, Gavalas ‘Natural Ferment’ Assyrtiko from Greece’s Santorini Island or a local chardonnay. You can also seek out rare white Burgundy, like something from Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses or St. Aubin.
Having an interesting wine at a holiday gathering gets conversation going and creates memories for years to come. You might seek out an old vintage Madeira or Pedro Ximénez sherry, and then as you pour it, recite a few things that occurred that vintage on a global level, and also in your family. Or think outside of the box with a bottle of amaro such as Italian Nonino or a digestif like Barolo Chinato.
How To Deliver The Perfect Holiday Toast
New Riff Distilling in Newport, KY, has two love languages: bourbon and delivering a great toast. Raising a toast has a certain finesse that requires practice. The way to become known as someone who always delivers a great toast is to understand the basic ingredients and techniques involved.
With New Riff’s easy S.W.I.P.E method, you’ll soon be ready to raise an off-the-cuff toast in nearly any situation this holiday season, or at events in the future.
Begin with an engaging and intriguing statement about the toastee. It can be a little spicy, but it should never stray into the realm of off-color or inappropriate. Include a quick, positive example of his or her humor, kindness, bravery, skill or other attribute. Make sure it’s real and true. That not only makes it more personal, it also eliminates the need for a script. You know the information.
Who are you to the toastee? Assuming you don’t already know everyone at the gathering, introduce yourself by way of a personal recollection of his or her humor, kindness, bravery, skill or attribute. Again, make sure that it’s true.
Indicate an example how his or her humor, kindness, bravery, skill or attribute made an impact on you. It’s meaningful when someone shares their love and admiration for someone else in public, and makes everyone in the room feel good.
Offer the toastee praise or a well wish that in some way includes a reference to his or her humor, kindness, bravery, skill or attribute.
Get everyone in the room involved and on their feet to thank the hosts and the actual clinking of glasses. It moves the whole group from audience to actual participants in the experience.