Emery Santora, Manager at Barcelona West Hartford, gives her insights into choosing the perfect bottle of wine for holiday gift giving.
Whether you’re the family favorite, the life of the party, or the one in the corner responding to work emails (that’s me), making a good impression on the host of any is always a must. With the holidays upon us and countless parties to attend, there’s one gift that never fails. . .a beautiful bottle of wine! After a recent trip to Spain, my family has had the pleasure of enjoying the bounty I brought back with me. If you don’t have the luxury of traveling abroad for your holiday wine selection, then your job just isn’t as good as mine. But fear not, there are other options. Luckily, many neighborhood wine and liquor stores now carry a plethora of Spanish wines to choose from.
Although I’d like to assume that the majority of partygoers know their host well enough to remember exactly which bottle they had for the toast at their wedding, or the French pinot noir their mother bought them for graduation, I highly doubt that’s the case. You can’t please everyone, which is why you focus on (the most important) one—The Host. I always prefer to bring both a red and white wine, and if I really like the host, a cava or a rosé as well! (And even if they don’t drink it, you will, right?) You want to bring wines that are overall crow- pleasers. Save the funky, unfiltered, phenomenally ridiculous wines for your fellow wine connoisseurs.
For white wine, I’ll be grabbing (and probably not letting go of) almost anything Verdejo. One of my favorite white grapes because it hits everything I look for in a white: body, minerality, light citrus and floral notes, and it lingers just long enough to have you pining for another sip. Spoiler alert for my family and friends: I’ll be bringing the 2013 Verdejo, Vinedos de Nieva, Pie Franco. This wine from Rueda is not aged but instead fermented for 20 days in small stainless steel tanks. The crisp, orange zest and ripe pear notes, coupled with the long elegant finish on the palate, will keep me next to my mom’s charcuterie board all night. No need for real dinner. . .I’ll be over here with my wine and cheese, thank you very much.
For those of you who choose to leave the cheese board and head over to carve into that roast, you might want to bring the host a nice red to go with it. Although I’m inclined to point you towards a Tempranillo, my growing love for Garnacha is steering me in a different direction. So this year, one lucky host will be privy to my score from Madrid: the 2010 Las Umbrias. This bold contender is one for the hostess you like…a lot. Its medium body is both chewy and earthy, and boasts currant and nutmeg aromas while gripping your mouth firmly. The choice behind a Garnacha is simple, they are elegant and complex, yet can please everyone from pinot noir lovers to cab aficionados.
One of the biggest power moves to make at a party is to be the one who brings the bubbles. Let’s be honest it means you’re fun, or like me, you live for the thrill of wondering who the cork might accidentally hit. Regardless there’s nothing that says celebration like a good bottle of sparkling wine. Considering the probability that you will be having more than one glass I would recommend going with a brut nature. The less sugar added to anything nowadays the better right? Especially if you will be indulging in some after dinner treats. I’ll be popping a bottle of Recaredo Brut Nature Cava. The producers of this wine are in a league of their own. The use no pesticides and hand harvest all their grapes. They even disgorge every bottle by hand. The patience and love behind these bubbles is evident and I can assure you, your guests will taste it. The crisp stone fruits imparted by the Xarel-lo mixed with the lively bubbles are the perfect pairing for you pastry delights.
These wines are simply suggestions. These particular wines can be hard to find so branch out, that’s the fun in it! Bring something to the table no one else has or will. Get in close with your local wine shop owner or if you have a favorite restaurant that has a sommelier, get their number! I certainly recommend West Side Wines in West Hartford. Good luck!
From all of us at Barcelona, happy holidays!