Tag Archives: holiday wine

Holiday wine trends 2015


Holiday wine trendsHoliday wine trends in 2015? Red wine — lots and lots of red wine.

That’s the consensus from the retailers I’ve talked to over the past 10 days. The red blends boom, combined with an upsurge in interest in pinot noir, has shoppers going for what Chris Keel, who runs Put a Cork in It in Fort Worth, calls “a bigger style in red blends.”

That was born out by numbers from Wine.com, where two-thirds of the wine sold over the past year were red. Mike Osborne, the web site’s founder and and vice president of merchandising, reports that the leading red wine categories, including merlot, have grown by double digits.

Interestingly, prices seem stable, particularly on the high end, and we’re still looking for value. But we’re also willing to pay for a holiday splurge, says Nick Vorpagel of Lake Geneva Country Meats. “They’re generally OK with $15, especially for domestic wine,” he says, noting the difficulty in finding quality for $10 from U.S. producers. “And I think consumers have decided that wine is an integral part of their meal and they’re OK with paying a bit more for a quality bottle of wine.”

Among the other holiday wine trends this year:

• Rose is still popular, even though it’s not rose season. Wine.com is selling more rose than merlot, which is as welcome a development as it is hard to believe.

• “Customers are looking for wine recommendations that fit their palate, not just a generic ‘best pairing’ recommendation,” says Vorpagel. “I’m having more customers come in and say, ‘I don’t like pinot noir; what other reds will go with turkey?’ It’s great because people are getting more comfortable with their palate to say ‘I’m not going to drink something I don’t like just because an expert recommends it.’ ” That sound you hear is the Wine Curmudgeon’s sigh of pleasure.

• Oak is not going away, no matter how much I want it to. Those of you who like it are still buying it, and especially in chardonnay, and producers have launched several wines in the $15 to $20 range for these wine drinkers.

Cheap holiday wine

cheap holiday wine

“Yes, but where did they hide the alcohol percentage?”

The Wine Curmudgeon was in august company earlier this month, helping several of the top restaurant wine people in Dallas pick cheap holiday wine for The Dallas Morning News’ regular wine feature. It was a fascinating experience, and not just because we found some terrific wine for the paper’s readers. Rather, I got to see wine from a different perspective — those who buy wine for restaurants, and where the cost of the wine isn’t as important as to them as it is to me.

Among the highlights of the tasting, which looked at wines costing less than $13 or so:

• The best wine of the tasting? A long-time member of the $10 Hall of Fame, the Chateau Bonnet white. The best red was also French, the Jaboulet Parallèle 45 Rhone blend, and which tasted fresher and more interesting than the last time I had it.

• How much terrible cheap wine is there in the world? So much that even I was surprised, and I probably taste more crappy wine than almost anyone. Too many of the wines were embarrassments — no varietal character, fruitiness verging on sweetness for wines that weren’t supposed to be sweet, and flaws like unripe fruit and off aromas.

• Availability reared its ugly head more than once. One wine we wanted to recommend, the Zestos rose, didn’t make the final cut because the only Dallas retailer that carried it out was almost sold out. This, said several panelists, happens more often than not, depriving readers of quality wine. Also, there were too many old and worn out wines in the tasting, because Dallas retailers leave them on the shelf instead of dumping them for newer and fresher vintages.

• The restaurant perspective was fascinating. I evaluate wines by price — is there value for money? Hence, I don’t treat a $5 wine the same as I do a $50 wine; I expect more of the latter. The restaurant perspective, if not exactly the opposite, is about quality. Is it a quality wine to serve to their guests? If so, then they decide if it’s worth the money.

Finally, a tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my pal Tina Danze, who oversees the tastings, for asking me to participate. It was much fun, and I was flattered she wanted my cheap wine experience on the same panel with people like Paul Botamer, the wine director for Fearings at Dallas’ Ritz-Carlton.

Thanksgiving wine 2015


thanksgiving wineThis year’s “Why did they bother?” Thanksgiving wine press release offered two roses, costing $65 and $100, as the perfect holiday wines. We’ll ignore for the moment that the point of rose is to cost much less than that; rather, why would anyone need or want to pay that much money for wine for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the greatest wine holiday in the world because it isn’t about money or showing off, but because it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the food and the wine.

Needless to say, my suggestions for Thanksgiving wine cost much less and almost certainly offer more value. Guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

King Estate Pinot Noir 2013 ($26, sample, 13.5%): I tasted this Oregon red at an American Wine Society dinner, where we also had a $160 California red. Guess which one I liked best? This is is not to take anything away from the California red, but to note the King Estate’s quality and value, and especially for pinot noir — lighter but with a touch of earthiness, cherry and raspberry fruit, and a wonderful food wine. Highly recommended.

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Sophisticated sparkling wine from France’s Alsace that got better the longer it sat in the glass, and which surprised me with its terroir and sophistication. Look for stoniness and minerality with ripe white fruit.

Bonny Doon Le Pousseur 2013 ($26, sample, 13,5%): This California red is my favorite Randall Grahm wine, not necessarily because it’s better than any of the others, but because of what it is — syrah that somehow combines New World terroir with old world style. Lots of black fruit, soft tannins, and that wonderful bacon fat and earthy aroma that makes syrah so enjoyable.

• Domaine Fazi Île De Beauté 2014 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): A Corsican rose made with a grape blend that includes sciaccarellu, the best known red on the French island. Maybe a  touch thin on the back, but an otherwise more than acceptable rose with a little tart red fruit and that Mediterranean herbal aroma known as garrigue. And yes, I’d take 10 bottles of this over any $100 rose.

Muga Rioja Blanco 2014 ($13, sample, 13%): Spanish white made with mostly viura has some oak, tropical fruit, and refreshing acidity, and why the Spanish don’t bother with chardonnay. Muga is one of my favorite Spanish producers, and almost everything it makes is affordable, well-done, and worth drinking.

More about Thanksgiving wine:
• Thanksgiving wine 2014

Thanksgiving wine 2013
Thanksgiving wine 2012


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