Pick the right wines for every holiday gift or gathering.
From thank-you gifts to office parties to gatherings of friends and family (complete with reindeer-antler headbands), ’tis the season to uncork lots and lots of wine bottles. With this handy guide, you’ll get the appropriate reds and whites for each occasion.
Easy, Affordable Gifts
Strategy: Get great value by purchasing a case (12 bottles) of wine and dividing it up as thank-you gifts for coworkers, friends, the handyman who fixed that leaky pipe, you name it.
Reds: The 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau, which was bottled and released just before Thanksgiving.
White: Sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava, often $12 or less per bottle.
Strategy: Make the recipient feel special at the moment the bottle is unwrapped. Best of all, it’s memorable long after it’s been uncorked—perhaps years from now.
Reds: Bordeaux, from France, and Barolo and Brunello di Montelcino, from Italy, are all known to improve over time. Prices start at about $70.
Whites: Vintage Champagne (a year appears on the label), German Rieslings and white Burgundies (made of Chardonnay) are among the world’s most coveted white wines. Minimum price will be about $50.
Office Holiday Party
Strategy: Keep the focus on chatting, reconnecting and reminiscing with flavorful wines that stand up to hearty, winter-season fare but also drink well on their own—just as fruity, spicy cocktails typically do.
Reds: Bone-warming, palate-coating Zinfandel or Syrah.
Whites: Versatile, crowd-pleasing wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.
Family Holiday Dinner
Strategy: Minimize the fuss of wine selection, yet still demonstrate that you put some thought and effort into picking wines you wouldn’t uncork on an ordinary weeknight.
Reds: Get two: a fruity and concentrated red that complements rich holiday foods, such as a Rioja (made of the Grenache grape), from Spain; also serve a Port to pair with dessert and end dinner on a high note.
White: A lush and fruity white, such as a Chardonnay or Viognier, that has the heft to stand up to everything on the table—even dessert.
Gathering Among Friends
Strategy: Make it all about the party, not the wine. That means it should be good enough for everyone to drink, but not so good that it’s the subject of discussion.
Reds: A cheerful party pour, such as a California Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot Noir—varieties everyone’s likely to be familiar with.
White: Get two: a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Cava, and a quaffable white from Spain, such as a fruity Albariño.
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