Ho! Ho! Ho!

It's true what they say about time flying by as you get older. I can't believe it's Christmas time already. Are you planning a Christmas gathering with family or friends? Need some help choosing a wine to go with your dinner or party? Email me [click here] with your plans and I'll respond with some recommendations.

If you're looking to keep things simple and pick just one wine to go with everything, then here is my recommendation. Last month I recommend a Beaujolais Nouveau to pair with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Well guess what, it will pair with a traditional Christmas dinner, as well. However, my favorite to serve with Christmas dinner is a nice Burgundy or Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir pairs well with turkey or ham, as well as side dishes that usually accompany the main course. It will also pair nicely with other main courses, such as lamb, chicken, or duck. Think of Pinot Noir as a food friendly wine and don't be afraid to serve it even with beef. While it doesn't have all of the tannin of big-bold Cabernet Sauvignon, it will not disappoint a nice slice of prime rib.

Okay, in case you didn't know it, the primary grape in red Burgundies is Pinot Noir. There are other varietals grown in the Burgundy wine growing region of France, but the two to remember are Chardonnay for white Burgundy and Pinot Noir for red Burgundy. So, if you're shopping for a French Pinot Noir look for a red Burgundy. One of my favorites is Pierre Labet's Gevrey Chambertin. Gevrey Chambertin is a village in the Cote de Nutis wine growing area of the Burgundy Valley and is know for producing some of the world's best Pinot Noir. The Pierre Labet is a typical old world style wine with lots of earth tones. You should be able to find it at your local wine retailer for around $50-60 a bottle.

If you're looking for a very nice Pinot Noir that is not quite as expensive, look for De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. You should be able to find it for around $20 a bottle. As the name implies, it is from the Russian River Valley wine growing region of Sonoma Valley, California. The Russian River Valley and Burgundy Valley have much in common and both are know for producing great Pinot Noir. I don't think you will be disappointed no matter which one you chose. Try one and [click here] to let me know what you think. And while you're shopping, why not pick up some Champagne/Sparkling wine to serve as an aperitif or in preparation for New Year?

I hear all the time folks say that they are just not into wine. What I'm really hearing is that they haven't found a wine that matches their palate. Many of you have heard me say that I believe the reason those new to wine tend to gravitate to the sweeter wines is that Americans grow up drinking soft drinks and juices loaded with sugar. Therefore, we have to retrain our palates in order to be able to enjoy the drier style wines. There is noting wrong with starting out with an off-dry or sweeter style wine and gradually retraining your palate. Can you think of better training?

Speaking of Champagne/Sparkling wine, I often hear people say that they don't like it. Again, it goes back to how our palate has been trained. Since, over 90% of Champagne/Sparking wine is produced as a Brut, most people have only tried this dry style of wine.

Brut is the driest style of sparkling wine with two sub-categories, Brut Nature and Extra Brut. Brut Nature is at the very bottom of the scale at 2 grams or less of residual sugar per liter and is often referred to as bone dry. Extra Brut is next with 6 grams or less of residual sugar per liter. If the wine is labeled Brut it will contain less than 12 grams of residual sugar per liter and will be dry on the palate.

So, if you don't like Brut and prefer a sweeter style sparkling wine, look for one labeled Extra Dry or Extra Sec. I know what you're thinking. If it says extra dry, won't it be dryer that a Brut? The answer is no. An Extra Dry/Extra Sec will contain 12-17 grams of residual sugar per liter making it off-dry or having a little sweetness on the palate. If you want something even sweeter still, look or ask for a Sec, which will contain 17-32 grams of residual sugar per liter.

And, if you want a truly sweet sparking wine, select a Demi-Sec, which will contain 32-50 grams of residual sugar per liter. While not a true dessert style wine, it is very close. And the sweetest of all, is a Doux, which will contain 50 grams or more of residual sugar per liter making it a true dessert wine.

When selecting a Champagne/Sparking wine for one of my educational events, I often go with an Extra Dry and it has never failed to please my students. This month I am recommending a Prosecco Sparkling Wine from the Italian wine producer, Ruffino, for your New Year's celebration. It is a very inexpensive sparkling wine, which you should be able to find for under $10 a bottle. Be sure and look for the Extra Dry designation on the rear label. Give it a try and then [click here] and let me know what you think.

Until next time, Cheers🍷


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John Loofs, member International Sommelier Guild, has earned both Level I and Level II Certifications. Combine this with his great love of all types of food and wine, and he is the perfect tutor and guide on your journey through the vineyards of the world. Read More


Need a recommendation?

Check out John's past posts for insights to new wines or contact John and ask for suggestions within your favorite varietal.


Question: Ever wonder how many grapes it takes to fill a bottle of wine?

Answer: Each bottle of wine contains the juice from 500 to 600 grapes.

Question: How many glasses of wine are typically in a regular size (750ml) wine bottle?

Answer: Typically 5-6. One 750ml bottle is approximately 25 ounces. So, your server can pour 5 x 5oz glasses or 6 x 4oz glasses. The difference going to the host for tasting prior to service.

Question: How many calories are there in a glass of dry wine?

Answer: A 5 ounce glass of dry wine contains between 100 and 125 calories.

Question: How many gallons of wine will one ton of grapes produce?

Answer: One ton of grapes will produce approximately 120 gallons of wine.

Question: How long does it take for a newly planted vine to start producing useful grapes?

Answer: New vines usually take 3 years to produce grapes that are good enough to make into wine. And 5 years to reach full production.

Question: What is the productive lifetime of a grape vine?

Answer: Usually 30 to 35 years and then the yield starts to decrease. Vines may produce quality fruit for a longer period, but at lesser yields.

Check back regularly for more questions and answers. Need an answer to your wine related question? Drop me a note with your question and I'll answer it here in Questions and Answers. And remember, the only silly question is the one never asked.

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