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  • Theresa Downs

Twelve Great Wine Picks To Start Your Holidays With Flair

Too busy toing, froing, and mistletoeing to figure out what wine to stock for the holidays? Hopefully, this guide will help decipher that bewildering wine aisle in the supermarket. Here are my suggestions for a well-stocked wine pantry that includes something for everyone.

Note: All selections should be available at grocery stores throughout the US (Safeway and affiliates) and are generally under $49.00 a bottle (most are less than $40.00).

Sparkling Wine

Let's start with bubbles, which almost always put everyone in a festive mood.

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My picks:

Domaine Carneros Brut – Domaine Carneros makes premium sparkling wine worth the extra few dollars you might have to spend. With hints of lemon, pear, and ginger, this elegant wine will elevate you to a great start on your holidays.

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J Cuvée 20 Brut (J Vineyards), with its notes of toasted almonds, Braeburn apple, and dried cranberry, will surely be a hit with family and friends. We had this wine at our wedding reception, and our guests were


Sauvignon Blanc:

For the folks who like white wine a little on the zippy side, the next two wines will be sure to please:

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Decoy Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc can be zestily refreshing with notes of pineapple, lemon/lime, green apple or freshly cut grass, herbaceous and green pepper. This particular Sauvignon Blanc has a bright lemon-lime finish that will be particularly appealing after the somewhat cloying holiday dishes.

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Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc

Typically, Sauvignon Blanc is processed solely in stainless steel tanks which help develop the bright acidity and freshness that makes Sauvignon Blanc so appealing. This wine has it all: tropical fruit notes of pineapple, mango, and lychee and citrusy hints of lime and lemon zest. Because this wine spends some time in oak barrels, it has a richer and creamer mouth-feel than other Sauvignon Blanc wines.


Chardonnay is among the more popular white wines; I have three picks to make the most discerning Chardonnay drinker happy.

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Chalk Hill Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

Chalk Hill consistently makes great Chardonnay, and this wine is no exception. Bright with a creamy palate and notes of baked apple and vanilla, this wine will perk up numerous dishes (think first course, rich soups, or even your main star, turkey).

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MacRostie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

MacRostie is one of my favorite Chardonnays. Highly regarded by such entities as Wine Spectator, this wine is rich and creamy, with hints of tropical fruit, pear, and citrus on the palate. Well worth springing for the additional cost.

Just as an added note, the winery is a delight to visit!

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William Hill Chardonnay North Coast

If you're not familiar with William Hill wines, you should plan on getting to know them. Their wines are consistently superior and great price-performers. The North Coast 2020 Chardonnay is creamy with pear/apple/toasted nut notes and perfect for roasted meats like holiday


Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of my very favorite wine varieties. Generally speaking, it is a light to medium-bodied red wine and incredibly versatile. It's amazing with roasted white meats such as turkey. And it's a great alternative for those who prefer red over white wine. Here are my two picks:

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Meiomi Pinot Noir

Meiomi consistently provides a fruity, pleasant Pinot Noir wine that will satisfy all who love that wine variety. Look for aromas of strawberry and ripe fruit, and vanilla. On the palate, you'll experience more ripe fruit like dark cherry and hints of tobacco. You could serve this Pinot Noir with either turkey, salmon, or beef and have very happy guests.

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Erath Pinot Noir

Fresh and lively, this Pinot Noir offers pretty berry flavors and subtle floral notes. Erath Pinot Noir is a bit lighter than the Meiomi Pinot. It pairs well with different poultry dishes (Turkey), medium cheeses, and pasta dishes but would probably be

overwhelmed with heavier meat dishes.


Merlot's taste profile has a range of flavors, the best-being graphite, herbs, black fruits, and cocoa, often layered with baking spices such as clove and vanilla. Generally, Merlot is a dry, medium to full-bodied wine with moderate acid and alcohol, and soft tannins. I included Merlot in my pick list as an alternative to heavier red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon because of the softer tannins.

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Markham Napa Valley Vineyards Merlot

Markham Vineyards makes a tasty Merlot (we have one sitting in our wine cellar).

This is the quintessential Merlot, with juicy black cherry flavors, toffee, chocolate, and cedar notes. Best enjoyed when served with hearty beef dishes such as standing-rib roast or prime rib.

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Stag's Leap Napa Valley Merlot

This Merlot is more red fruit based with red cherries and red plums, wet stones, and roses. A lovely wine best served with meats and fowl with a heavy toast.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, medium-acid, medium-high tannins, and generally high-alcohol wine. It shines when paired with rich grilled meats and peppery sauce. Generally, Cabernet Sauvignon has dark fruit flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and blackberry with notes of green bell pepper, tobacco, wood, and vanilla (from aging in oak barrels.) What part of the world the wine is grown and made in greatly affects the aromas and taste of the wine.

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Francis Coppola Claret Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

A great wine handsomely decked out with gold webbing. The wine offers scents of toffee, tobacco, and vanilla with clove, pepper, caramel, and cocoa, full-bodied with a long finish—the wine screams for a great steak or a juicy slab of prime rib.

There you have it—my grocery-store wine picks. Hopefully, you'll have as much fun sampling and experiencing the wines as I did.

From us at Wine By Appointment LLC., here's wishing you all happy holidays.


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