In one respect, picking wines for the holiday season, including Christmas, is a bit trickier than picking wines for Thanksgiving. The latter is a formal, sit-down dinner; the holiday season is one long stretch of running around, people coming over, hurried evening meals, and a glass of wine or two in between wrapping presents.
To that end, the Wine Curmudgeon's suggestions aren't so much about specific labels, but some general guidelines. For individual wines, check out my wines of the week or the holiday wine posts. My New Year's sparkling wine post will be up on Dec. 28.
• Save the expensive wine for a formal occasion, like Christmas dinner, or to give as a gift. What's the point of opening that $70 bottle of red Bordeaux on the off chance someone will drop over after dinner?
• Think lighter reds, like malbec and U.S.-style Rhone blends (the Peirano Red Shorts Red is a good example), and lighter whites like dry riesling and viognier. The more I think about it (and as much as I love sauvignon blanc), riesling and viognier are much better suited to a crowd than the white wines we normally serve.
• Don't be afraid to open a bottle of wine -- or two or three -- when people come over. One of the best parts of having people over, at least at my house, is tasting different wines and talking about them. (Yes, the Wine Curmudgeon knows he is a bit odd). You'll be surprised at the differences most people can taste in a $10 wine.
• If you're giving wine as a gift, give them what they like, and not what you think they should like. And if someone gives you wine as a gift, say thank you and appreciate the effort they made to give it to you.