From left to right: DH Lescombes Port, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, Adami Prosecco, Cantine Aurora Tortona Dolce Stilnovo Rosso, Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
From left to right: Innstadt Brauerei, Bock Weisse, Brasserie de Silly, Gouden Carolus, Noël, La Cumbre, Project Dank
By Dan Payne
Every year for the last three years I have chosen wines for your holiday needs, whether for meals or as gifts. This year is no different. I have picked wines that can both accompany a meal and make a wonderful gift for the wine lover in your life—all for under $20 a bottle or six-pack.
I have been in wine, beer, and spirits at Triangle Grocery in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, for almost five years. Before that I was employed in the alcohol field in Northern California, Arizona, Illinois, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Not only did I attend UNLV to study wine, beer, and spirits, I have also continued my education through ongoing study and tastings with various suppliers.
Now for the fun part: let’s take a look at my picks for this season’s best wine and beers for the price.
Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
This wine will go with almost anything you serve for the holidays. Ecco Domani has a clear, golden-straw-colored appearance, with light body and soft palate. It is very dry, with a hint of apple and pear flavoring. Goes great with your meal or as a cooking ingredient for the adventurous home gourmet.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier
This is a bright, easy-drinking wine that everyone will love. Even non-wine lovers! Great for an impromptu lunch or taste-test with friends. A very aromatic wine, flavored with melon, pineapple, pear, and mango. I would serve this with any meal, but I see it pairing especially well with mashed potatoes and New Mexico’s red chile.
DH Lescombes Port
This is another homerun from DH Lescombes. I recommended their cabernet last year. This year it’s their port. One of my personal favorites, this is a ruby port with dark colors. Flavors of ripe berries and smooth tannins tickle the palate. Definitely recommended as a gift or an after dinner drink. Pair it with your favorite dessert or, believe it or not, salty potato chips.
Don Rodolfo Vina Cornejo Costas Tannat
This Argentinian wine can be paired with nontraditional holiday meals, such as succulent roast beef. The Tannat is a rare grape from France used for blending, but it has blossomed in South America and is quickly becoming a favorite among connoisseurs. It presents with robust tannins, tobacco, and plum, and has a long finish. This wine can easily be cellared for three to five years, allowing you to pull it out as a special treat any time of the year. Especially recommended as a gift for the wine lover who has everything.
Cantine Aurora Tortona Dolce Stilnovo Rosso
A beautiful red moscato from the Piedmont area of Italy, this slightly bubbly wine has a delightfully sweet strawberry flavor. Far from being cloying, this sweetness will especially complement any spicy dish. And its low alcohol content will allow you to indulge your sweet tooth with a second glass after dinner. Moscatos are a big hit and make great gifts for the wine newbie.
When you ring in the New Year, do it with Adami Prosecco! Flavors of juicy pears, green apples, and flowers makes this the perfect sparkling wine. Toast the New Year or mix mimosas for your pre-holiday brunch. A festive wine for all your celebrations. In my opinion, it is also the best Prosecco for your money.
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Not a wine drinker? Not a problem! Here are my suggestions for some great beers:
Brasserie de Silly, port barrel aged de Silly
This wonderful selection is a Scottish-style beer made in Belgium and aged in a port barrel. Like all beers aged in oak, this features some sour notes. The port in the wood adds flavors of red grapes and hints of brown sugar. The beer itself is malty, with a taste of candied sugar and dark fruit. Serve this beer in a tulip glass at room temperature for the best flavor experience.
Innstadt Brauerei, Bock Weisse
Forget everything you know about wheat beer—this is unlike any Weisse you have ever had. It presents with a hazy brown appearance and grainy aroma. Your palate will appreciate the notes of bread, caramel, fruit, and just a hint of chocolate. With a higher alcohol content than most wheat beers, it may catch you by surprise.
Gouden Carolus, Noël
A very heavy and strong ale, this beer is made for Christmas. It will make your mouth water with its dark reddish-brown appearance and coffee aroma. Winter spices add to the appeal, imparting a strong alcohol taste and notes of semi-sweet chocolate, malt, raisins, and licorice. This is the epitome of a winter warmer. Bring on the snow!
La Cumbre, Project Dank
For those of you who demand hops in your beer, this is what you have been waiting for. What can one say about Project Dank? No two bottles are the same. The brew master at La Cumbre is always changing this beer. Its only constant is that it is hoppy, with a capital H. This awesome creation has won first place in the American Cask Real Ale category at the 37th Annual Campaign for Real Ale and placed in the Great British Beer Festival. It also claimed the Michael Jackson Award, (the beer writer, not the King of Pop). Project Dank is the perfect gift for the hop-head in your life, and it makes a great cooking ingredient.
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I hope this list helps you discover some new flavors and plan a great gift list. All of these beers, wines, and more are available at Triangle Grocery. Always remember to enjoy any alcohol responsibly and safely. As always, Happy Holidays to you and yours.
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