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Women and Wine: Selecting the best of the best this holiday season
By Angela Totman
Tis the season for food, family and fun. The holidays are also a time for social parties, work gatherings, customer appreciation and a variety of opportunities for gift giving/exchanges. Whether buying to enjoy with your spouse or best friend, as a gift for your favorite hair stylist or client, or to give to your neighborhood party host, a bottle of wine is a great way to show your appreciation and bit of your personality. Because of its inherently festive nature, gifting wine is also a lot more fun than giving gift cards, which can feel impersonal.
Unless you are a wine expert, choosing a bottle of wine can be intimidating. Even if you have your personal favorites, selecting a wine to give as a gift or share with friends who probably have varying taste preferences can be even more difficult. Adding to the adventure are the differences in how wine makers label their wines and the almost foreign language often used to describe wines. Is it varietal (identifying the grape) or identified by appellation (the vineyard/village/region where they are made)? What about the differences between vintages and what in the world are tannins?
You really don’t need to be a wine expert or connoisseur to select great tasting wine to share at your next holiday party. There are a variety of wine publications that offer guides to choosing wines and best of lists and that give access to the experts who have made it their life to understand varieties of grapes, the best regions of the world to grow them and the terroir, or characteristics of where they are grown, that make distinct flavors and personalities of wine.
Wine EnthusiastMagazine has released their Top 100 Wines of 2017 list and provides a guide for not just taste but value. With each wine that made the cut, they share information about the vineyard, variety and vintage. Let’s count down the top three wines on Wine Enthusiast’s list with a brief description to get your taste buds revved up.
Top-rated Wine #3
The #3 selection from Wine Enthusiast is the 2013 Single Vineyard Temis Malbec from Alta Vista Winery at just under $50 per bottle. Mendoza accounts for approximately 70% of the wine production in Argentina and Malbec represents the largest percentage of what is produced there. With grapes grown from a single vineyard in the Mendoza region of Argentina, this wine shares fruity aromas and flavors ranging from raisin to blackberry. Their expert recommends you enjoy between 2018 and 2026.
Top-rated Wine #2
Coming in at #2 from Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2017 list is Produttori del Barbaresco 2011 Rabajà Riserva. At just under $60, it features the Nebbiolo grape, hailing from Piedmont, Italy and this wine features berry, floral and spicy aromas and flavors. It is recommended that the 2011 Rabajà Riserva is enjoyed from 2019-2031.
Top-rated Wine #1
The top wine from the Wine Enthusiast list is from Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery’s 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay from Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California. At under $40 per bottle, this wine is a blend from vineyards around the Russian River Valley and combines floral and fruity experiences for the senses with spicy undertones and a nutty finish. Theresa Heredia, the Winemaker of Gary Farrell, gives an excellent description in this video from Wine Enthusiast.
“Which Wine Do I Choose?”
If you take the time to check out reviews on the wines above, you will notice words describing them that you may not expect to see when characterizing the aroma and taste of any beverage. For example, “new leather”, “licorice” and “pipe tobacco” in the case of the Rabajà Riserva or the “smear of mocha” in the finish of the Alta Vista Malbec and “gravelly minerality” of the Gary Farrell Chardonnay. It is only through experiencing wine that we can get a true appreciation for what often seems like a complicated combination of smells, tastes and textures on paper.
If you aren’t into reading wine labels or reviews, there is an alternative resource for making your wine adventure a little more simple. You can skip the research, and still broaden your pallet while expanding your wine repertoire by joining a wine club. Although each club has its own features, wine clubs are a vehicle for trying different wines or sharing wines that are often hand selected by wine experts.
With many clubs available, it is important to understand your goal in joining a club. Are you wanting to check out new kinds of just one variety or to explore wines you probably wouldn’t pick up yourself if standing in the store reviewing your options? Be sure to understand the customer service policies if you receive a wine you don’t enjoy and if education is important to you, how much information they provide about the wines you will receive at your door and the wineries that they originate from.
Even if you have a couple of go-to wines, discovering and exploring wines and how to pair them is a fun experience. I’ve enjoyed the process of learning about new wines, trying wines that I wouldn’t pick up at the store, and doing so knowing I can have a bottle replaced if I don’t like it. Add in the benefit of delivery right to my door, personalization regarding my preference of what type of wine I would like to receive, and the accompaniment of tasting notes and I’ve discovered a great formula for finding new wines to savor and share with others.
Cheers to your wine adventure! And remember what author Tanya Masse said about women and wine: “Wine is to women as duct tape is to men– it fixes EVERYTHING!”
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