You might think an annual family gathering isn’t the place to get fancy. Think again. The folks over at Pali Wine Co. love nothing more than to make the newbie oenophile feel more comfortable with bringing a little class to the table. For MAKE tasting room manager Kim Casanova, wine is a year-round passion. Although she doesn’t need a special time of year to break open a new bottle, the holiday season brings unique ways to share, serve and discover wine. Read on for Kim’s tips on making the most of your glass this holiday:
Bottle Trade with a Favorite Relative
Kim started a tradition with a favorite uncle who shares her passion for wine. Each holiday they each exchange a bottle they’ve found particularly interesting and leave a little note with a memory of where they discovered the find or personal tasting notes. It’s a sweet and easy way to connect with a relative you may not see as often. Make it even more special by gifting a Wine Club membership. Pali’s very generous Membership program is tailored to the individual, so your loved one will have access to complimentary tastings and special releases throughout the year. The membership tastings are also a great excuse to get out and meet people (hello single aunt!)
Serve Up the “King of Thanksgiving” Varietals
Want to bring a bottle but have no idea which wine pairs best with the rich meats and savory sides typical of most Thanksgiving and winter holiday celebrations? You can’t go wrong with a Pinot Kim says. This red wine varietal is notoriously difficult to cultivate often resulting in rich, fruity, or earthy complex wines. Grenache is another type of grape variety to look for when pairing with the buttery, meaty and earthy plates typical of the season. Try Pali Co. ‘16 Estate Pinot Noir (note: certain wines may be available in limited quantities.)
Spruce Up Your Stemware
Stemware is super important when enjoying good wine, Kim adds. “Above all, you want to serve your wine in a glass without a thick rolled lip as it detracts from the aroma and flavor,” she says. Showing up to someone else’s party with it might be a little much, but hosting even a small gathering is the perfect time to update your stemware. You don’t have to break the bank either, glassware companies like Riedel makes terrific glasses and you can find them at reasonable prices.
Pay Attention to Pour Sizes
When hosting appetizers or a tasting event, it’s best to stick to pour sizes of about 1.5 ounces Kim advises. This way, you not only have enough to go around but when the food is lighter or in smaller portions, a smaller pour matches the wine to the amount of food, assuring things don’t get too boozy. Pali’s 2018 P.C.H. Estate Rosé of Pinot is a smooth, sophisticated wine, usually best served lightly chilled and just right for a cocktail party, pre-dinner appetizers or a daytime holiday affair. You can also go for an excellent Chardonnay, also usually served chilled, like the 2013 Huber Chardonnay. It’s barrel-aged in French oak just enough to take a bit of the buttery taste often associated with newer varietals and deliver a nicer balance of fruit and minerality. During dinner, you can stick to a standard 5 to 6 oz pour.
Not sure where to start? Look at regions you like, offers Kim, perhaps starting with a style that has its origins in a country where your ancestors have roots or a place you’d like to travel. Good wines also can come at decent price points. Sonoma wines, for example, are often an excellent value. Or, you can splurge: for the price of two nice bottles you can pick up a “magnum” bottle (Pali has some in select wines)—a giant size that screams special occasion. You can also play games where blindfolded guests try to guess which wines share something in common or which one is the outlier.
Most important: have fun and share wine with people you love. Those who make wine, love what they do and most want to share their enthusiasm with as many people as possible. You don’t have to memorize every varietal, possess a wine cellar or be rich to enjoy good wine. All it takes is an open mind and a willing palate. There are many ways to bring fun to a joyful occasion. Pick up your wine at a local winery, shop or tasting room and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Salud!