Make us your home page
Instagram

Drink of the week: Reliably festive holiday wines

Some oenophiles like to choose wine as a gift because it gives them a chance to show off their expertise. But what if you don't have the time or knowledge to hunt down a rare and wonderful vintage, but you'd like a reliable, go-to wine to take along to all those holiday parties or keep on hand for last-minute gifts?

Here are a couple of candidates, reasonably priced (each one is about $18) and widely available.

Somehow Christmas puts me in mind of claret — maybe it's all those jolly folks quaffing claret in Charles Dickens' novels. (Dickens himself was a fan and collector of the wine.)

"Claret" is the British name for red wine from Bordeaux, and, although it's an American wine, the 2013 Francis Coppola Black Label Claret (1910 Type) from the winery's Diamond Collection is made in that traditional Bordeaux style and aged in French oak — it even comes with a mantle of gold netting over the bottle, as if it were just brought up from some Edwardian cellar.

Coppola claret is mainly cabernet sauvignon, balanced with petit verdot, malbec and cabernet franc. That adds up to a deep purple-red color and an aroma of dark fruit and pepper.

Take a mouthful and you'll find that fruit: lots of juicy blackberry, plum and cassis. There's a festive swirl of spice as well — anise, pepper, clove. Smooth tannins lead to a long finish, with just a touch of espresso.

Coppola claret would pair graciously with party foods like cheeses and charcuterie, and it's substantial enough to do dinner duty with gala dishes such as duck, crown pork roast or beef rib roast.

In party season, you can't go wrong with bubbles, and nothing says "party" like the pink stuff.

One of my favorite rose sparklers is Gruet Rosé NV, an American wine made in the French methode champenoise (and decked out in a powder-pink art deco label that would look right at home in a Parisian bistro). Pop the cork and pour to reveal the wine's gorgeous rose-pink color and columns of fine bubbles. Roses show up in its aroma as well, as do strawberries.

Strawberries and raspberries tickle the tongue, along with touches of clementine and cream, with a nice toasty finish. This rose also has just enough minerality to give it a crisp, refreshing finish.

Gruet Rosé will party prettily with anything from a seafood buffet to a dim sum platter, and it is absolutely fabulous with dessert. Or as dessert.

Colette Bancroft, Times staff writer

Drink of the week: Reliably festive holiday wines 12/18/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2015 10:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table

    Travel

    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers

    Nap

    Walk 6.2 kilometers

    Nap

    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  3. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.

  4. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.

    Travel

    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  5. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game

    Attractions

    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]