10 Ways to Drink Bravely for the Holidays

Holiday Wine Secrets from St. Regis Aspen Sommelier, LeeAnn Kaufman.

I know that not everyone feels this way, but I personally love to attend and throw holiday parties. The holiday music twinkling in the background, those festive fashions, and time to visit with people you don’t see often — what’s not to love? As we get closer to that special time of the year when people get closer together and share their love and friendship with each other, (this includes parties, dinners and an overall joyful experience for the most part) it’s just not a party if there is no drinking! So get creative with your wine choices and surprise your guests with something festive and completely different.

  1. To awe your guests, serve a magnum of wine, which is inherently celebratory but not necessarily expensive (e.g., “J” sparkling wine or Saintsbury Pinot Noir). Have all of the guests sign the big bottle with a permanent marker as a keepsake.
  2. Instead of a big-name bubbly, try a grower Champagne, which are essentially “indie Champagnes” prized for their individual personalities and fair prices.
  3. Celebrate the holidays with a bottle of mature (i.e., aged) wine, which is easy to find in good wine shops and not necessarily expensive. The wine’s unusual taste and vintage year will make a special occasion even more memorable.
  4. Discover Rueda, a tangy Spanish white that delivers more flavor for the buck than Pinot Grigio. Try drinking it via a porrón, a glass pitcher traditionally used with the Spanish sparkler cava.
  5. Freeze some Moscato D’Asti in an ice tray, then chop it up, which essentially creates a simple form of granita, or flavored flakes of ice. Sprinkle the iced bits over fruit and serve it with glasses of Moscato D’Asti on the side.)
  6. Use Tawny Port to introduce yourself to the nutty, caramel-tinged pleasures of Port. Try it with peanut brittle and your mind will be blown.
  7. Build a night around opening a bottle of fine Madeira, a neglected treasure known for its caramel-and-molasses character and for-the-ages durability.
  8. Opt for a red from the Loire Valley. Their light-to-medium weight and zesty red-berry flavors are splendidly versatile with food, including the spectrum of flavors at holiday tables.
  9. To bring holiday cheer, try drinking a rich, moderately oaky red like California Cabernet through a licorice stick, as Stag’s Leap Cellars’ winemaker Nicki Pruss has been known to do.
  10. Some people are under the impression that hosting a party involves purchasing the most expensive wine they can find, wine that would impress even the most seasoned connoisseur. However, when it comes down to it, the price of wine is not nearly as important as the variety.

Cheers & Happy Holidays!

LeeAnn Kaufman
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
Wine Director

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