Tag Archives: holiday wine

Valentine’s Day Wine 2011

Ordinarily, the Wine Curmudgeon does not participate in the festivities surrounding The Holiday that Must not be Named. But this year, given the rough winter that so many of us are having, I figured, why not? Plus, it gives me a chance to write about champagne and sparkling wine, which was the blog’s New Year’s resolution. (If you really don’t want to do bubbly, this Chalk Hill is quite nice.)

Bubbly fits Valentine ?s Day like a red paper heart (and yes, you can even drink it with chocolate). The sparkling wine glossary explains all, and the 2009 New Year’s post explained the difference between the world’s various sparkling wines.

So if you ?re wondering where to go with Valentine ?s Day wine, here are three sparkling suggestions:

? Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut ($11, sample). Spanish bubbly is called cava, and this one is more fruity (some citrus) than similarly-priced cavas. Plus, it’s pink, so you’re getting with the holiday theme.

? Simonnet-Febvre Cremant Brut ($20, purchased). Bubbly from the Chablis region of France, which means the grapes approach champagne quality at less than half the price.

? Pol Roger White Foil Brut ($45, sample). The real stuff, ?with champagne ?s classic green apple flavor and great bubbles that stream to the top of the glass.

Wine of the week: Lamberti Prosecco Vino Spumante Extra Dry NV

The Wine Curmudgeon does not drink much Italian sparkling wine. This disappoints two of my favorite people in the wine business, who see qualities like lightness and charm where I see fizziness and dullness. So this wine is their holiday gift.

That's because the Lamberti (sample, $15) manages to be very Italian and yet still offer some backbone and sturdiness that too many Italian sparklers don't have. The Lamberti is simple and light with a hint of apple fruit, but it's not too sweet and it's bubblier than many other proseccos. Italian sparkling wine usually doesn't have wave after wave of small, tight bubbles rising to the top of the glass, which I love and which seems to be the sign of quality bubbly.

Hence my pleasant surprise at how well this wine was made, and especially at this price. Drink the Lamberti to welcome in the New Year, with any sort of holiday brunch, as an aperitif, or with a mid-week dinner (white pizza or spaghetti with clam sauce).

Winebits 160: Holiday sparkling wine

A look at what some of the rest of the wine world is recommending that we drink as bubbly season nears its zenith:

? French bubbly that's not from Champagne: Eric Asimov of the New York Times lists 10 French sparklers made elsewhere in the country, and his choices include some of the Wine Curmudgeon's favorites — several from Alsace and the Bonnard from Burgundy. What's really interesting about these is that many of them are less than $20, and represent real value.

? Wine Spectator recommends Cristalino: Yes, the world's greatest value bubbly is listed in the magazine's sparkling wine story, albeit it at the very end and with an 85. Even Korbel is in there, and with an 86 (yet another example of why scores are silly, since there is no way Korbel is more interesting than Cristalino). In fact, I'm beginning to worry about the Spectator, since the list had several wines that I regularly recommend. if the Spectator and the Wine Curmudgeon find common ground, the world must be upside down.

? 10 great Champagnes: From Jon Bonne at the San Francisco Chronicle, and don't be surprised if you haven't heard of most of them. This is a truly a Champagne-ophile's wish list, and some of them will be almost impossible to find (assuming you can afford them).

New Year’s sparkling wine 2010

image from www.openclipart.org Keep two things in mind when you pick a Champagne or sparkling wine for this week's festivities. First, bubbly has a language of its own, where extra dry means sweeter than dry and brut is the word for dry. Our sparkling wine glossary explains all, and the 2009 New Year's post explained the difference between the world's various sparkling wines.

Second, enjoy sparkling wine more than once a year. Please? The Wine Curmudgeon has never understood why Americans drink such nice wine once a year. It's food friendly, which should not be surprising since most of it is made with chardonnay and pinot noir, perhaps the two most food-friendly grapes. It's fun to drink, what with all those wonderful bubbles, and it tastes good. And how often do I say something tastes good? More, after the jump:

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Wine of the week: Peirano Estate The Other 2008

It's the holidays. You want wine. You don't want to have to think about it. That's what The Other is for.

It's a red blend from Lodi (mostly cabernet sauvignon and merlot with a splash of syrah) and yes, I can see the wine snobs shuddering. That's their problem. The Other ($14, purchased) is a fine value, it's well made, and it has never let me down. Look for black fruit, but in a sensible, this tastes good sort of way. Serve this wine with red meat, as an aperitif for people who want a glass of red wine when they come to visit, or in front of the fire when you're worn out from holiday fun.

It's true that most people who pick up The Other for the first time do so because of the label, which is the back of a naked woman. But the wine is consistent, and that doesn't happen often enough with less expensive labels. And, sadly, it's not $10 any more, which it was when I started drinking it. But that doesn't mean I still don't enjoy it.

More about holiday wine:
? Holiday wine guide 2010
? Holiday wines 2009
? Holiday wine in a hurry
? Expensive wine 12: Twomey Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2008

Holiday 2010 gift guide redux

Still stumped? Never fear. The Wine Curmudgeon has you covered:

? Our annual holiday gift guide, which has links to several previous gift guides, as well as a link to the Wine Curmudgeon's gift giving guidelines.

? The holiday wine category, which has links to all of the posts about holiday wine. And yes, it's allowed to adapt a Thanksgiving wine for a Christmas or New Year's gift.

? The expensive wine category, which has links to all of the posts and reviews about expensive wine. Because, frankly, if it's an expensive wine that I liked, odds are that it would make a nice gift.

Wine review: Bolla Valpolicella 2009

This is the first wine I ever drank. It is, in fact, the first wine I have any memory of. In the 1970s, if you were a “serious” wine drinker in the United States, you drank French Beaujolais, California burgundy or chablis (which were not necessarily pinot noir or chardonnay), German liebfraumilch, Lancers and Mateus rose, or the Italian Bolla. My father, an Italophile, drank the Bolla.

Which meant I did, too. I brought it with me with when I went to someone’s house for dinner. I bought it to impress girls (one of my first big dates, actually). I had no idea whether the wine was any good. I knew very little about wine 30 years ago; the Bolla was wine, and that was good enough.

Bolla, as a brand, mostly disappeared in the 1990s. It was bought and sold several times, and I had not seen it in years. And then, at the grocery store this week, there it was. I checked with my Italian wine expert, who told me, yes, the current owners dusted the brand off, changed the label, and are bringing it back.

Memory is part of wine, as much as the grapes or the soil. This is one of Alfonso Cevola’s favorite themes, that it’s not just what the wine tastes like now, but what we remember of the tasting — who we were with, where we were, what we were doing when we tasted it. So when I opened the Bolla ($6, purchased), I was thinking about my dad and Chicago in the 1970s and the girls I bought it for. The Wine Curmudgeon was sipping and analyzing, but Jeff Siegel was remembering.

So maybe this is memory talking. Maybe the Bolla isn’t what I tasted the other day — young and disjointed, yes, but fresh and clean, with a funky Italian nose and lots of sour cherry fruit. It’s an incredible value at this price, a wine for winter stews and red meat and tomato sauce. And, of course, for memory.