THE HOLIDAYS are such wonderful opportunities to open your cellar to family and friends, but they’re also stressful when chaos reigns and time tends to vanish in the rush to get everything completed.
So I’ve selected three cases of Northwest wine — one each for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — that can help get you through the silly season.
The Thanksgiving table can be difficult for those tasked with selecting wines. With so many aromas and flavors going on, as well as the family conversations and occasional squabbles that can dominate, Thanksgiving is not the best meal for wine pairing. My solution? Open a lot of wines of varying flavors and structure, and don’t sweat it. Here are a dozen possible wines to consider.
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Treveri Cellars NV brut blanc de blancs, Columbia Valley, $14: I love sparkling wine for every occasion — and especially at Thanksgiving, where the wine starts the meal as a celebration and it pairs so beautifully with what’s on the table.
Duck Pond Cellars 2012 chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12: Because chardonnay is the top wine in the country, you’ll undoubtedly have a fan at the table. This Oregon winery with a huge Washington vineyard crafts a version that is as delicious as it is affordable.
Mercer Canyons 2012 riesling, Yakima Valley, $13: With its bright flavors and slight sweetness, this wine from a top Yakima Valley producer is a crowd-pleaser that should work well with turkey, stuffing, ham and scalloped potatoes.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2013 Traditions rosé, Columbia Valley, $13: Winemaker Josh Maloney and his crew at Milbrandt have dialed in this gorgeous pink wine that is dry yet luscious. It’s a versatile food wine, perfect for Thanksgiving.
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2013 Classic Fly Series gewürztraminer, Snake River Valley, $15: Thanksgiving is the perfect meal for gewürztraminer, especially dark turkey meat. And this Idaho winery owned by Seattle’s Precept Wine made perhaps the best gewürztraminer I tasted this year.
Westport Winery NV Bog Berry Blush, Washington, $26: Don’t turn your nose up at this blend of cranberry and gewürztraminer. The stunning purity of fruit will wow you and your guests.
Spindrift Cellars 2012 pinot noir, Willamette Valley, $22: Mild tannins and elegant flavors help make pinot noir one of the best food wines around. This affordable example from Oregon will serve you well.
Snoqualmie Vineyards 2010 Whistle Stop Red, Columbia Valley, $10: This cab-heavy blend is rich and smooth, and it should impress the red wine lovers at your Thanksgiving table.
Gamache Vintners 2010 syrah, Columbia Valley, $30: This winery with a Prosser tasting room is crafting some of Washington’s best reds. This syrah will slake your thirst for a rich yet thoughtfully crafted wine.
Helix by Reininger 2009 sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $27: This Italian red grape is so difficult to make outside of its native Tuscany, but this Walla Walla winery manages to craft one of the best I’ve tasted this year. It’s a terrific food wine, thanks to bright fruit and acidity.
Jacob Williams Winery 2011 Hi Valley Vineyard merlot, Columbia Valley, $28: I’m not a big fan of cabernet sauvignon at the Thanksgiving table because it’s often a little too big for the food being served. Instead, turn to this mellow merlot from a great little winery in the Columbia Gorge town of Wishram.
Smasne Cellars 2012 late-harvest muscat, Snipes Mountain, $22: A sweet wine is a marvelous way to end your harvest meal, and this luscious sipper will be perfect with pumpkin pie, cheesecake or by itself.
The Christmas holiday is more than just Dec. 24 and 25. It’s about holiday meals and get-togethers leading up to the big day. I love bringing out my favorite wines during this time of year so I can share them with family and friends. Wines that are a little more expensive and special help set the perfect holiday mood.
Karma Vineyards 2010 brut, Columbia Valley, $50: This winery on the south shore of Lake Chelan specializes in sparkling wines, and this is a classic. It’s a lovely way to begin a memorable holiday meal.
Sequel 2011 syrah, Columbia Valley, $50: This red from Long Shadows in Walla Walla is one of the best syrahs made in Washington. It’s a great treat and pairs with lamb, prime rib and other hearty fare.
Native Sun 2010 cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65: This young winery not far from Red Mountain is crafting spectacular reds, and this cab ranks as one of the best I tasted in 2014. It will wow you and your red wine friends.
Adelsheim Vineyard 2011 Elizabeth’s Reserve pinot noir, Willamette Valley, $55: David Adelsheim, owner of one of Oregon’s earliest producers, continues to craft some of the state’s best pinot noirs. Enjoy this with pork loin, duck breast or mushrooms sautéed in red wine.
Eroica 2012 riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: If you’re going to drink riesling — and you should — it might as well be the best our state makes. This Ste. Michelle product launched the revitalization of the American riesling industry, and it will be perfect with seared scallops or crabcakes.
Dusted Valley Vintners 2011 malbec, Columbia Valley, $42: Washington malbec has become one of my favorite red wines in the past couple of years, and the boys at Dusted Valley in Walla Walla and Woodinville are producing some of the best. This wine is all about pairing with steak.
Maryhill Winery 2011 Clifton Hills cabernet sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $40: Winemaker Richard Batchelor’s reds have been spectacular since his arrival in 2009, and this wine from the difficult 2011 vintage is incredibly impressive.
DeLille Cellars 2011 Chaleur Estate, Red Mountain, $80: The flagship wine for one of Washington’s elite producers is a marvelous Bordeaux-style blend that is perfect with a magnificent meal.
Winderlea Vineyard and Winery 2012 chardonnay, Willamette Valley, $38: Oregon wineries are enjoying a chardonnay renaissance, thanks to dramatic examples such as this. A great pairing with everything from salmon to stuffed Cornish game hens.
Walter Dacon Wines 2009 GSM, Columbia Valley, $38: Red Rhône-style blends are the rage in Washington, and this grenache-based wine from a small producer near Shelton is one of the yummiest I’ve tasted this year. It is perfect with any number of beef dishes.
Thurston Wolfe 2011 reserve petite sirah, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Petite sirah, a bold red, is most often associated with California wine country, but this example from a Yakima Valley winery will make you a believer, especially if you’re serving prime rib.
Horizon’s Edge Winery NV Wishful Thinking Chocolate Port-style, Rattlesnake Hills, $20: A red dessert wine is perfect for cozying up to a fire on a rainy winter night, and this chocolate-infused red is nothing short of stunning.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
You might think New Year’s Eve is all about sparkling wine and, well, you’re probably correct. But think beyond bubbles for other wines your friends and family might enjoy while waiting for the ball to drop. Because the focus of year-end revelries is on heavy appetizers and happy conversations, make sure your wines are elegant and somewhat inexpensive.
Moet & Chandon Rosé Impérial, Champagne, $58: If you’ve had a particularly good year, you might as well celebrate it in style with one of the classiest sparklers in the world. And if it’s not been a great year? Might as well toast to better days.
Michelle NV brut, Columbia Valley, $14: Having a bigger party? Keep your bubbly local with this delicious and affordable sparkler from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. It’s particularly delicious with seafood.
Kramer Vineyards NV Celebrate!, Yamhill-Carlton, $18: Kramer is a second-generation family producer in Oregon’s Yamhill County that crafts an absolutely stunning sparkling wine from the rare Müller-Thurgau grape. It’s deliciously off-dry and will be a hit with your friends.
Jones of Washington 2013 riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Jones wines are broadly available and delicious. This off-dry riesling makes crowd-pleasing moves in your glass and will keep the party going all night long.
Ponzi Vineyards 2013 pinot noir rosé, Willamette Valley, $20: Pinot noir can result in some of the most delicious and sublime pink wines around. This example from one of Oregon’s oldest producers will be perfect with a wide array of foods.
L’Ecole No. 41 semillon, Columbia Valley, $15: Sadly, the noble semillon is a nearly forgotten grape, but Marty Clubb and his crew at L’Ecole make some of the best white wine in the state with it. Perfect with crabcakes, salmon and shrimp cocktails.
Airfield Estates 2012 Runway syrah, Yakima Valley, $18: There’s little need to turn to syrupy Aussie shiraz when you have such delectable and affordable examples of syrah so close to home.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2011 Four Vineyards merlot, Columbia Valley, $18: Merlot has long been a favorite red wine in Washington, and this example from a longtime Spokane winery will remind you just how good it can be.
Bombing Range 2010 Red, Horse Heaven Hills, $16: This syrah-based blend from McKinley Springs is another crowd-pleaser, thanks to rich, plump, approachable flavors. It’s priced for partying, too.
Columbia Crest 2012 H3 cabernet sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $14: I regularly marvel at how the Columbia Crest crew manages to produce such delicious and affordable wines. This cab from the H3 tier is smooth and yummy.
Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Artist Series cabernet sauvignon, Washington, $59: If your New Year’s Eve get-together is small — perhaps two other couples — then bring out this big gun with your main course.
Kiona Vineyards & Winery chenin blanc ice wine, Red Mountain, $25: If your New Year’s Eve party is just you and your sweetheart, complete the evening in style with this gorgeous dessert wine.
Andy Perdue is a wine author, journalist and international judge. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.