Wines make nice gifts, and it’s even nicer to drink them. If you’re not sure what to buy or bring, here are some suggestions for good, reasonably priced wines from local experts.“
For a small get-together or cocktail party, there are plenty of reasonably priced holiday wines,” said Patricia Novo, certified specialist of wine and wine instructor at Schenectady Community College. "Sparkling wines from California like Mumm and Domaine Chandon” are in the $18 to $22 range. An absolute favorite sparkler of hers is a type of Cava, from Spain, called Segura Viudis Reserva, a gorgeous bottle with pewter-colored details that makes an impressive hostess gift. “Absolutely stunning, and in the low $20 range,” Novo said.
Others agree. “People love sparkling wines,” said Sven Salnitis, manager at Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse in Halfmoon. He said Prosecco is more popular for the holidays than Champagne. “It’s softer, and a good value. You can get a nice bottle for $10 to $15.” He recommends Cassara Prosecco, which they sell for $9.49.
“A true holiday wine is German Glühwein” said Salnitis. It translates to “glow wine,” and it’s served warm with spices, citrus fruits and sugar.
Salnitis also likes Brotherhood Winery’s Holiday Spiced Wine, from America’s oldest winery in Orange County, New York. Brotherhood has been making their spiced wine for over 150 years, and though it closely guards its recipe, lists some ingredients as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. They suggest you serve it warm. You can host a crowd; it’s not expensive. Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse sells the 750 ml bottle for $7.98, and the 1.5 liter for $14.40.
If you’d like to support a business close to home, Joe Messina, owner and winemaker of Amorici Vineyards in Valley Falls produces a range of award-winning wines from New York State grapes. For the sweet wine drinker there are the light, off-dry Burch Street Red Table Wine and Gewürztraminer. Prices range from $15 to $25.
Amorici wines are available at several locations in the Capital Region, including Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse and Geraghty’s Discount Wine & Liquors in Greenwich. Get it by the glass at McGreivey’s in Waterford; check amoricivineyard.com for more locations.
The family-owned Capoccia Wines, based in Niskayuna, operates Capoccia Wine Lounge, a wine bar, store and tasting room at 508 State Street in Schenectady. You can buy their products at wine shops around the region, including Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse, All Star Wine & Spirits in Latham, and Empire Wine in Albany, and by the glass at their Lounge, Slidin’ Dirty and Great Flats Brewing in Schenectady.
Justin Capoccia recommends their Noiret red, “It has a nice peppery spice to it,” he said. “A lot of people like it for the holidays.” Their Marechal Foch is a smooth, easy-drinking Burgundy style red with slight oak flavor. Seyval Blanc is a dry white. Prices range from $12 to $16 a bottle.
So what to serve with your food or snacks? Pairing wine with food is a passion for Novo. She recommends choosing a wine that either complements the food or contrasts with it. With rich holiday extravagant foods, like lobster with butter, she recommends Chardonnay from Napa, in California, that will stand up to the food. To contrast with the food, try “Sparkling wines or Champagne to cut through the richness,” she advised. Proscecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, California sparkling wines all fit the bill at reasonable prices.
Messina recommends their crisp, dry acidic Amorici Dry Rose if you’re having turkey. It pairs well with the white meat, and its spiciness helps it hold up to the dark. Their Cabernet Franc is a fruity, versatile wine that pairs with salmon and other oily fish, but has a complex flavor profile that also makes it great with red meat.
Anyone would be glad to receive these one of wines as a gift. And you can serve them with confidence, knowing that they have been recommended for you.