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Stories from the valley

Two Perfect Wines for Christmas

Contributed by Tim Johnson

“Just bring some wine for dinner.” Those words used to strike fear in me as a guest for a holiday meal. Usually lost in the communication is what is the main course and almost certainly the sides are a mystery. Also, what other wines are expected? Never fear, there are two wines (bring one of each) that are certain winners. 

The first is Barbera. I like those from the Sierra Foothills regions of Amador, Calaveras and El Dorado but this grape makes wonderful wines throughout the state. With lots of nice lush fruit herbs notes and soft tannins, it compliments both ham, lamb and roasted turkey. A great place to find wineries bottling this varietal is in the local section of a good grocery store. 

You should also bring a dry chardonnay, preferably one that does not have a lot of oak. While big, buttery chardonnays have their place, I find that wines made dryer (less sweet) and with little if any oak, are perfect for the holiday meal. Not only do they go great with any poultry, they are excellent with a ham. Do a quick web search and grab one when you pick up the Barbera. 

Of course, if you know you are headed to a meal where a prime rib is the star, you will want to bring a great California Cabernet. Head to a wine shop and do it right. The advice you’ll get will make sure the wine perfectly complements this king of holiday meals.