There is a sense of celebration in the air, with Christmas around the corner. The most festive (and delicious!) time of the year is almost here. It’s time to catch up with friends and family over lingering feasts and conversations. Good food and wine are synonymous with Christmas parties. While most of us plan the food way in advance, picking out the wines is often a last-minute stressor. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether bringing wine to a potluck, a Chardonnay that pairs with a special meal meal or a Cabernet that’ll go with all those leftovers, here are some great local wines that you should try for the festive season. Most of these lovely wines are under $20, so you can sip away without burning a deep hole in your pocket. We spoke to the winemakers to know what makes these wines special, and how you should pair it with holiday favorites. Salud!
Great for a Christmas cook-out with friends: Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)
An exceptional wine at this price point, this is great for impressing friends and family. It is smooth and flavourful and goes well with a variety of dishes, making it a great choice for a pot-luck party. This wine gives off aromas of dark berries and plum and goes perfectly with roasted veggies. This oak-aged wine also pairs excellently with blue cheese, dark chocolate, grilled duck, beef or veal.
“This bold style Cabernet Sauvignon displays great complexity and structure.
There are aromas of dark berry fruits and plum on the nose with chocolate and vanilla on the palate. This wine pairs well with beef tenderloin or hearty pasta.”
– JUAN MUÑOZ OCA, WINEMAKER
For the big dinner: Erath 2017 Oregon Chardonnay ($12)
This is a great Chardonnay to sip through your big Christmas meal. It is incredibly fresh and balanced. This light, citrusy wine is the perfect accompaniments to Christmassy fare like roast meats, grilled seafood, and creamy puddings. This wine is a fruit forward, ready-to-drink style of Chardonnay without excessive oak or buttery flavors.
“Delicate wafts of ripe pear, lime zest, floral talc, melon and a whisper of toasted nuts offer a pleasing glimpse into this easy-drinking Chardonnay. The palate tingles with citrus, white nectarine, lively Rainier cherry, and very faint almond essence. Peppy acidity offers a pretty, lingering finish.”
– GARY HORNER, ERATH WINEMAKER
The wine to pair with your Christmas leftovers: MERF 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($13)
Aren’t leftovers the best part about Christmas dinners? Well, pairing decadent pies and stuffing with a nice wine can make your leftovers feel even more special. This Cabernet is understated with delicate flavors of blackberry, toffee, and subtle spice. It lets the flavourful food shine through and is perfect for those big family gatherings. “The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is balanced, soft and approachable. With flavors of blackberry, vanilla and subtle spice notes this wine has silky tannins and a lasting finish.”
– DAVID “MERF” MERFELD, WINEMAKER
The perfect wine for a festive sangria: 14 Hands “Hot to Trot” 2015 Smooth Red Blend ($12)
Predominantly a mix of Merlot and Syrah, this smooth red blend comes off one of warmest growing seasons Washington has ever had. The wine is ideal for the festive season, with intense berry flavors, it mixes well in a fruity fall sangria. It pairs well with roasts, gourmet cheeses, pasta, and barbequed meat.
“This polished red wine offers aromas of cherry, red currant and tea. Flavors of cherry pie, ripe berries, and plums, supported by a frame of refined tannins, give way to subtle notes of baking spice on a persistent finish.”
– KEITH KENISON, 14 HANDS WINEMAKER
A gift for the host: Seven Falls Wahluke Slope 2015 Rapids Red ($18)
This bold red is a great gift to take to a soiree or get-together that you’re invited too. A bit of trivia – Seven Falls was inspired by a series of seven waterfalls that once flowed along the Columbia River through what is now known as the Wahluke Slope. It pairs well with spicy Thai or Chinese food, pepper steak, rich stews, and strong cheeses.
“This is a beautiful blend that shows boldness and depth but at the same time restraint and finesse. A mix of both dark fruit and softer red fruit. Hints of dried fruit and anise. This blend is mouth-coating with a spicy, smooth, elegant finish.”
– DOUG GORE, SEVEN FALLS WINEMAKER
To sip and celebrate: Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé ($13)
With celebrations all around, this is a gorgeous bubbly to have at hand. Whether it be a sudden invitation and you need a gift for the host, or you have unexpected guests drop in, this wine is a huge crowd favorite. It is crisp, lively and slightly sweet. With its natural sweetness, this pairs exceptionally with spicy Indian food. It is also nice with salads, coconut shrimp and fried chicken.
“Aromas of ripe strawberry with hints of apple and citrus. The initial impression is lively yet dry with subtle spice and berry flavors followed by an elegant, delicately sweet finish.”
– PAULA EAKIN, WINEMAKER