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We’re writing to you with regards to a serious matter.
What wine will you be serving at Christmas this year?
Or, if you’re visiting friends or relatives for Christmas, what will you be bringing with you?
If you are in any way unsure, then please read this right now.
[Don’t leave it till the last minute as you may not be able to secure the wines we recommend in time. They will likely not be available at your local shop or supermarket.]
What most people recommend (and why they’re wrong)
Most wine shops are going to recommend either a pinot noir (Oregon/Burgundy) or a gamay (Beaujolais). Why? Because, they claim, those aren’t wines that “impose” on the rest of your food.
First, that’s not quite correct, especially in the case of Beaujolais. They used to make Beaujolais specifically to sop up the prodigious amounts of meat and cheese locals consume.
For the past 20 years, however, many Beaujolais winemakers have gone the way of Bordeaux and California, making “big” Beaujolais with a lot more alcohol content.
Second – and most importantly – selecting a wine that doesn’t impose on your food is kind of like selecting a spouse for that fact that they’re never home. Why bother?
Third, if your Christmas meal is going to have sweet elements (sweet potato, cranberry, sweet corn, corn pudding), and you’re eating actual turkey and not chicken, then pinots and gamays are the wrong way to go.
And Before You Reach for that California Cabernet…
“Oh I’ll just get a great Napa Valley cab sauv,” you say…
To which we respond: if you like paying $100 a bottle for something so over filtered and “balanced” that it tastes like… well… nothing, then be our guest.
But if you’re looking for true delight and surprise when you pop that cork (and you care about not throwing money down the drain)… then here’s what we recommend…
Our Great Christmas Wine Discovery
Last Christmas, we had a minor crisis. We ran out of wine!
Desperately searching our cellar, we took a gamble on the very last wine your local shop owner would recommend:
A 2012 malbec from a vineyard at 8,420 feet in Argentina’s extreme altitude Calchaqui Valley.
Now, if you’ve had malbec before, it was probably from Mendoza, which is 500 miles to the south of the Calchaqui (and many thousands of feet lower in altitude).
It was also likely a cheap bottle (around $10) and a young vintage (a 2019, say).
That kind of malbec isn’t going pair well. It’ll be too spicy. Too harsh.
But an extreme altitude malbec with a couple years under its belt will rock your table.
The chewier mouthfeel and higher acidity will cut through the sweet parts in your meal, while bringing out the richness in the dark meat and skin from your turkey.
(While the malbec won’t do much to the white meat, it’s also true that no wine does much for white meat.)
Plus, if you have any fried food planned for your meal, a high altitude malbec will be an exceptionally good choice as blackberry and cherry notes will offset to the saltiness.