The Kenwood Press
: 12/15/2011

Holiday wines to make you merry

Sunshine Radtke

It’s hard to believe it’s almost Christmas and 2011 is winding down to the start of a new year!

With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I’ve been thinking of a few local favorite wines to pair with festive fare. As always, I did my “homework” to share some great wines with the local folks.

Aside from a visit from Santa Claus, my favorite event of December is the beginning of Dungeness crab season. Hands down, the best wine to accompany our sweet shellfish friend is a crisp, chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Paradise Ridge has a beautiful 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc. This delicate midnight harvest wine is light and crisp, with flavors of pineapple, citrus and honeysuckle. The long finish is exceptionally balanced with very nice acidity.

If a holiday ham is on your menu, I would lean toward a nice, oaky Chardonnay. If you’re on the fence about oaky chardonnays, I highly recommend Benziger 2009 Signaterra Carneros Chardonnay. This chardonnay displays the characteristics of the Carneros region with rich texture, bold granny smith apple flavors and very delicate hints of oak and vanilla on the finish. This Chardonnay is beautifully crafted with a lovely balance of fruit and oak. In my opinion, this is a marvelous match to your holiday ham!

In my house, we have the tradition of herb crusted prime rib on Christmas Eve. I have a few pairing suggestions in mind but what I ultimately look for is a big meaty red that packs a powerful punch on the palate. Enkidu 2008 Humbaba is an incredible red blend. Bold notes of rich blackberry lead to layers of herbs and spice with an amazing, earthy finish. This wine has subtle nuances of a peppery finish that lingers with toasty oak.

Benziger 2008 Signaterra “Sunnyslope” Cabernet Sauvignon is also a great match to prime rib, and has the big, bold and spicy character I look for in this particular pairing. This elegant Cabernet is intense with flavors of rich berries, plum, dark cocoa and tobacco. The finish is like velvet with notes of spice and smoky oak.

Of course, another fabulous choice for red meat is a big chewy Zinfandel. St. Francis 2008 Old Vines Zinfandel displays deep aromas of ripe black cherries and boysenberries laced with the essence of licorice and spicy toasted oak notes that lend to the long luscious layers on the finish.

If you are planning to ring in the new year with a toast, you’re going to want a sparkling wine! Paradise Ridge 2007 Blanc De Blanc is a beautiful sparkler with complex layers of bright, crisp green apple and honeysuckle with a rich and toasty nuttiness. The finish is clean and long as a result of extended aging. This should make your New Year happy!

Whatever is on your menu, I hope your holiday season is abundant with friends, family, peace and happiness, which is what celebrating the holidays is all about.

Cheers and Happy Holidays! See you in 2012!

– Wine Country Girl