We can all appreciate an excellent bottle of red (or white). But how to make your bottle an offering that won't be soon forgotten? And which wines are most appropriate for the various holiday shindigs you'll be spreading some cheer at?
Over at Playboy, we like to keep a few sommeliers on our speed dial for situations like these. Today's holiday wine tips come from sommelier Christopher Miller, a New Orleans native, who divulges a few choice bottles so excellent you might consider giving them away by the case. It's certainly a gesture that would put you in Santa's good books for a long while yet.
1. FILIPA PAT "3B" METODO TRADITIONAL ROSE, PORTUGAL, $15
DESCRIPTION: Really fun wine. Dry but slightly rich and not too acidic. Perfect winter apéritif.
REASONING: You simply cannot find a better sparkling rosé for the money. Fun label, and no one will know you got off so cheap.
2. RODERER ESTATE, BRUT, ANDERSON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, $20
DESCRIPTION: An inexpensive sparkler you actually want to drink, with loads of personality.
REASONING:The closest you’re getting to Champagne anywhere near this price for domestic wines.
3. LA SPINETTA MOSCATO D'ASTI, PIEDMONT, ITALY, $17
DESCRIPTION: Lightly sweet and floral, tons of fruit, low in alcohol and super easy to drink.
REASONING: Try it with a splash of Campari as your featured cocktail; the Campari cuts the sweetness ever so slightly and makes for a complex flavor combination. You can thank me later.
4. VENICA & VENICA FRIULANO, COLLIO, ITALY, $19
DESCRIPTION: Think of it as a much more interesting, more flavorful version of Pinot Grigio.
REASONING: Nice and fruity, without being overly challenging to the senses. Very refreshing.
5. SOUTHERN RIGHT SAUVIGNON BLANC, WALKER BAY, SOUTH AFRICA, $11
DESCRIPTION: Splits the difference between the lean minerality of France and the riper fruits of New Zealand.
REASONING: If you’re going to have a classic grape, make it a little more interesting—choose an unexpected country.
6. CHAPTELLE DES BOIS CRU CHIROUBLES BEAUJOLAIS, BURGUNDY, FRANCE, $20
DESCRIPTION: Very light, with tons of pomegranate, bing cherry and strawberries; eminently quaffable.
REASONING: Beaujolais is undergoing a remarkable quality revolution and makes “Pinot Noir-like” wines at outrageous values.
7. PALMINA BARBERA, SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, $19
DESCRIPTION: Medium-bodied, and just has layer after layer after layer of juicy red and black fruits, with a hint of spice.
REASONING: This one always wins over the crowd, and people always ask me where they can pick up a couple cases for the house.
8. NOVELTY HILL CABERNET SAUVIGNON, COLUMBIA VALLEY, WASHINGTON, $19
DESCRIPTION: Lots of dark Cabernet fruit, but approachable when young and not super tannic.
REASONING: Tasty, perfectly balanced Cabernet is hard to find under $20, but these guys manage to do so year in, year out.
New Orleans native Christopher Miller, 35, first developed his obsessive love of wine during a chance wine tasting in Washington State while still in college. Following graduation he quickly propelled himself into numerous roles in the wine world, working as a blending consultant, Beverage Director at the legendary Spago in Beverly Hills, and even developing his own wine label. Chris is currently Director of Education and Hospitality for the Harlan family of wineries, where he is pursuing his passion of teaching.