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Stories from the valley

Sure fire wines for Christmas

Contributed by Tim Johnson

At first you think you have it easy. All you have been asked to bring for Christmas is wine. But then you stop and think about the pressure of getting it ‘just right’ and you start to sweat. Not to worry, here are some great wines, many of them local, that will make you a hero every time!

Barbera – my hands down favorite for the holidays. This soft, easy drinking yet very flavorful wine is always a hit. A varietal that has become a big hit in the Sierra Foothills wineries in Amador and El Dorado counties, it boasts loads of red fruit with nice acidity that holds up well for most foods.

Syrah – a perfect wine for the holidays, loads berries and finishing with some spice, it is great with appetizers as well as the main dish.

Zinfandel – this is the wine for the main course of roasted turkey and vegetables. Cherry, blackberry and a peppery finish, this wine is great if the bird is hot off the grill our just out of the oven.

Sauvignon Blanc – one of my favorite white wines. I prefer California sav blancs with their tropical fruit and citrus notes. Great with appetizers and the salads and hold well through the main course.

Where to shop

I’m a hack when it comes to buying wine. I never seem to have the time to get to a winery and I never have the bottle I’m looking for in my couple of mixed cases at the house – probably because I drank them!. So my go to is the local grocery store. Here in Northern California here are the sure fire picks: Raleys, Bel Aire, Nob Hill, Nugget and Fork Lift. All have a great selection of local wines as well as the Napa and Sonoma favorites. Pick one or two from the Sierra Foothills and snag a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Napa and you’ll be the hero at the meal.