Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Wines: Sparkling and Dessert

With the holidays upon us, it's useful to have a stockpile of simple, accessible wines around the house for the wide range of tastes your visitors might have. A few bottles of Merlot for the red wine drinkers, a few bottles of Chardonnay for the white, and you are set for most everyone who might swing by. But what about those extra special guests? You might be able to get away with just a few glasses of this sort of "table wine" for that uncle you only see once a year, but what about the special friends joining you for your annual New Years celebration? These special times with friends and family can call for special wines.

We recently tasted a few such wines out of the Finger Lakes. Everyone thinks of "Champagne" for New Years and other big days, but it is useful to remember that other wine regions produce some great--and, better yet, more affordable--sparkling wines. While they can't use the "Champagne" name, many New World producers are making sparkling wines in the "Methode Champenoise" and creating some wonderfully complex and balanced wines. And with the new found success of Pinot Noir in the Finger Lakes, they are creating versions very true to they French style.

This year, considering branching out and trying other types of dessert wines. Dessert wines are great sip and savor with your special guests. Ice Wine is one such example. New York is known for its Ice Rieslings, but the region is experimenting with other dessert wines as well. The Vidal Blanc grape is well-suited to the cold weather in the Finger Lakes and creates bright, fruity Ice Wines. Even grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon are being turned into Ice Wine. These are great holiday wines, as a bottle can be opened to share and will keep in the fridge for the next visitors: these big, rich flavors last much longer than other wines, and an open bottle can keep for days if stored properly. That is, if you manage to have any of it left once you start sipping.

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