Monday, December 28, 2009

Wines for Before and After Dinner

“I’m so hungry—I’m too full!”
No? Crickets. Tough crowd.

Here are a few recommendations for NYE libations or your next overindulgent dinner.

Zonin, Prosecco (Brut)

My new favorite casual, any occasion bubbly, this is the perfect intro to a big meal to stimulate the appetite. And it's just the right price for entertaining guests at $6 a bottle, 'cause it taste at least like 9 bucks. Your peeps will never know. Good on its own, or for mixing with syrups or juice, especially around brunch time. You can usually find this one at Trader Joe's. $5.99

Korbel, Champagne (Brut)
Sonoma County, CA

This bottle-fermented CA bubbly was grandfathered in, so it can still call itself a champagne. It's relatively inexpensive, drinks easy, and has a clean finish. So it's kind of hard to go wrong here if you're in a pinch and need to grab something in a hurry without overthinking the selection. Available pretty much anywhere in CA. $11.99

Gloria Ferrer, Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine
Sonoma, CA

This one is I've mentioned before, but it's still one of my favorites. It's a more complex sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and it's perfect for the times when you want something a little fancier, yet you don't want to break out the big bucks. (And by big, I mean springing for a $40 bottle of Moet at Costco. Might be a good one to break open New Year's Eve.) Available at most wine retailers. $13.99

Harvest Moon, Sparkling Gewürztraminer, 2008
Santa Rosa, CA

This is a great balanced sparkling wine, and the grape really comes through. A lot of sparkling wines in CA use a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir combo (sometimes with a few others thrown in), but this is a single varietal using Gewürztraminer, which immediately sets it apart. It's also not as dry as the others mentioned here, so it's a nice change. This is my splurge selection. $36

Evenus, Zinfandel Port, 2006
Paso Robles, CA

I've been obsessed with zinfandels lately, so naturally I got super excited about a zinfandel port I found at Trader Joe's the other day. The bottle is just the right size for a small dinner party or a host gift, and the port is excellent now, or it can be cellared for up to 20 years. $8.99 (375ml)

Ice Style Gewürztraminer, Harvest Moon Winery, 2007 or 2008

Another pick from my favorite winery, this dessert wine has a nice heavy body without a pesky cloying finish. Great for dessert of course, it has also been brought to my attention that it might not be unpleasant to pour a little of this wine over pancakes. It can also be cellared for a few years to increase the body and develop the wine further. The 2008 is available directly from the winery and you can order online. $35 (375 ml)

Quote from the winemaker and another reason they're my favorite winery:
For those who can appreciate a truly sweet dessert wine, this rare ICE-style wine is just for you. We recommend this delicacy with your favorite dessert or over your favorite person.

Charbay, Pomegranate Dessert Wine
St Helena, Napa Valley, CA

You may recognize Charbay as a distillery before a wine maker, but these guys dabble in just about everything. This pomegranate wine has qualities similar to a ruby port, but with lots of tanginess and acidity mixed in with the sweetness. Great pairing for chocolatey desserts or crepes. You can find it at the winery or at many online wineshops. $18 (375ml)

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