As the temperature drops low and the Yule logs glow it’s time to start thinking about what to drink for the most festive meal of the year. That’s right, it’s Christmas time! Whether you’re gathering around the tree with the family, or the fireplace with friends there is a perfect bottle for the occasion. And this time of year, that means reaching for a bottle of big, bold red. With a myriad of wines to choose from, here are some not to miss.
Cabernet Sauvignon has long been considered one of the most noble wine grapes in the world. From its home in Bordeaux France all the way to Napa Vally in California (and pretty much everywhere in the world), Cabernet Sauvignon is always in the spotlight. It is known for rich fruit flavors that range from dark plum to cassis and can have a green herbaceous quality as well. Although it shines on its own Cabernet Sauvignon is frequently blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a whole host of other grapes.
Bordeaux is located in the south west corner of France just off of the Atlantic Ocean and by the border of Spain. Although made famous in 1855 when the wines were classified wine making can be traced back to at least 4th century AD. There are many wines to choose from in this category and some can be very expensive. Some excellent bottles are Les Pagodes de Cos, Chateau Pichon Baron, and Chateau Trotanoy.
The American counterpart to Bordeaux is none other than the bold Cabernets of the Napa Vally. Northern California is the epicenter for winemaking in the United States which produces some of the most iconic domestic wines. Robert Mondavi makes benchmark wines from Napa with the Reserves and the To Kalon being the top of his line. Dominus is another top estate in Napa that makes refined wines with finesse while Joseph Phelps makes wines with body and weight.
AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA
When it comes to Italian wine, nothing better welcomes the cold weather like Amarone della Valpolicella. Frequently just called Amarone, this red comes from the northern Italian region of Veneto, not too far from Verona. Yet another place where viticulture dates back hundreds of years, Amarone didn’t become known until the 1960’s. Historically the wines of the region were sweet. The process of making Amarone della Valpolicella is particular; the grapes are harvested and then dried in ventilated and humidity-controlled rooms until mid-December before being made into wine. This process gives the wines a full and rich body with a slightly raisinated taste. There are two wines that lead this category. Giuseppe Quintarelli makes classic wines that are full yet retain finesse with red plum and spice. Then there is Romano dal Forno which epitomize the power of Amarone. This is a dark jammy wine with an herbaceous touch. Other fantastic producers are Marion and Masi.
There are many wonderful wines from all over the world to enjoy. Australian Shiraz are many reds from Spain are also full and rich, not to mention the Malbecs of the southern hemisphere. Full body red wines are wonderful in these cold months. But no matter what you open up to celebrate the Christmas season, the most important thing is to make it something that you love!