Thursday, December 15, 2011

Please Help Me Look Like I Know About Wine

Dear Bashionista,

Good things happen when you bring the right
bottle of wine.

I am hopeless when it comes to buying wine. I have no idea what’s “good,” so I assume I have to get something “expensive.” I am not made of money over here! Also, what if I buy a nice bottle of wine and it doesn’t “pair” with the food. ARGH! Why is this so complicated?
The worst is that even when I drink a bottle of wine that I like, I am terrible at remembering what it was called. Probably because I was drinking at the time.
Do you have any advice about what kind of wine I should bring to this season’s million and one holiday parties?
Kylie M.

You’re in luck, Kylie! I have asked our resident wine expert, Jen Toth, proprietor of Summerlin Wine and Spirits in Wappingers Falls, NY, for her advice. You will leave your local wine store feeling like a conquering hero:
Assuming you are flying completely blind in a wine shop - meaning you don’t know what will be served, or what the host or hostess prefers in terms of white or red wines - there are some fool-proof wines that will make for a great hostess gift.
My go-to wines in situations like this generally fall in the ‘middle-of-the-road’ category in terms of not being too much of anything, whether it’s oak, tannin, dryness or acidity. There are a ton of wines to choose from, but narrowing it down to just a few will be super helpful and will get you in and out of the wine shop and on to the party in no time.
First decision to make is red or white. Pick one. You’ll be fine. Seriously. Pick a color.  Next, decide how much you want to spend. Keeping this in an ‘under $15’ ballpark is more than acceptable.
White Wine
If you’ve picked white, hone in on the pinot grigios. This wine is a very, very safe bet.  When in doubt, look for one from Italy.  I am loving Cupcake Pinot Grigio. The wine is great and the label’s classy and adorable.
If you’re feeling up for a little treasure hunt, head to the chardonnay section and find one that is unoaked.  Generally, it will be announced on the label that it is unoaked. I’ve been partial to Four Vines Naked Chardonnay.
Another great wine pick is torrontes. Selecting this wine will put you in the ‘they must know wine!’ zone, but I’ve picked it because it is a really easy-going wine and sort of a healthy combo of the positives of a pinot grigio and an unoaked chardonnay. It has a little zing, a little zip, but there’s a nice floral element to it. It’s lovely and it also pairs up very well with a wide range of food.
Red Wine
If you’ve picked red, head towards the pinot noir. It’s a light red, so it will make for a good pairing even if your host is serving chicken. Mirassou Pinot Noir from California is a good choice, and it’s easy to spot (big yellow sun on the label) and carried in most wine shops.
Another great choice for a red wine is a chianti. (Skip the straw basket bottle here!) This style of wine is a safe bet in that it will go with a wide range of foods besides the obvious Italian. Look for Banfi Chianti Classico. 
My red wine suggestion to put you in the ‘they must know wine!’ zone is malbec. This wine is not new by any means, but it is definitely super popular at the moment and it’s versatile, and without fail, there are fabulous bottles available for under $15. Look for Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec.
Sparkling Wine
I am a huge believer in bringing along a bottle of bubbly, but keep this simple. Look for a prosecco, which is a sparkling white wine from Italy. It’s not super dry, it’s not sweet and  besides being pretty and festive, it’s a great pairing for spicy foods and salty snacks and even dessert. My recommendation is Mionetto Gold Label Prosecco.


  1. This is fantastic information and well written i love to have my bubbly too.

  2. Thanks! Yeah, Jen really knows her stuff.