Drinkability key for the feast – Dec. 20, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

Some would suggest procrastinators by nature are more curious wine drinkers than those who plan incessantly. Thata��s because by the time they get around to buying the most popular wines of the season, they are all long gone and they are left searching the aisles for, well, something different.

That may well be the case today and over the next week before Christmas Eve as you roam the aisles of wine shops while clerks scramble to keep pace with the inevitable last-minute crush. At this late hour, ita��s all about finding bottles with a certain drinkability factor and maybe even saving face for not having shopped earlier.

Therea��s no need to feel the stress. There are no right or wrong choices to serve at Christmas dinner, although ita��s not the day for super expensive, overly complex wines. With many guests, a mix of ages and generations conspire to suggest your picks need to be eminently drinkable. It is the generous wines that will be the hit at the table so dona��t over-think it. Red wines with soft tannins and white wines with a reasonably fruity, aromatic demeanour are the ticket.

Our suggestions for this yeara��s Christmas dinner span most options: vegetarian, turkey, ham, beef or lamb. If ham is on the menu, or any kind of charcuterie, think off-dry riesling. The fruit and acidity is a perfect foil to the smoke and salt. There is good news for vegetarians who should prosper throughout the holidays thanks to the many meat-less and vegetable-based dishes, all that pair perfectly with local aromatic blends. The same wines work with just as well with turkey, although ita��s hard to beat a fruit-forward chardonnay or New World pinot noir with the bird.

If red blends are your thing, consider a tasty mix of Rhone red varieties. If lamb is on the menu, the slam dunk match is syrah but syrah blends are equally welcomed, as is malbec with its savoury, juicy dark fruit flavours. The former could be French or Argentine.

As for suggestions, todaya��s regular six picks and those in this column adhere to two key premises. The first is drinkability: we know these work and that most people will enjoy them; and second, ita��s all about availability. You should find most of our picks without driving all over town.

We begin with three Okanagan whites, all in government stores. The Terravista Fandango AlbariA�o Verdejo 2013 ($25) Pills is knockout dinner wine; the Quailsa�� Gate Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris 2013 ($19) is just-off dry fresh pears, red apples, more grapefruit to work with turkey. Chardonnay drinkers can turn to a new-look CedarCreek Chardonnay 2012 ($18), with about six per cent pinot gris. A refreshing stylish, light, bright and mineral white, representing the new Okanagan.

Aromatic whites you can serve before and during the big dinner include Errazuriz Don Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($18) sildigra online america ; George and Trudy Heiss have a stellar Gray Monk Riesling 2012 ($16) that will please many palates. Finally, still with aromatics, one of my favourites for the year is the buy pills Louis Bernard CA?tes du RhA?ne Blanc 2012 ($14). The mix is grenache blanc/bourboulenc/clairette and as fresh and as lively as you could want for the price.

Pinot Noir will be on plenty of lists but finding them is difficult. Here are three top picks for the money: Tabali Reserva Pinot Noir 2012 ($20), from Chile, Yering Station Little Yering Pinot Noir ($16) from the Yarra Valley, Australia and Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Noir ($20).

Argentina should be on your list with its rich, soft savoury reds. Labels to look for include the Crios Malbec by Susana Balbo Dominio de Plata 2013 ($17), The Show Malbec ($17) and or Trivento Malbec Golden Reserve ($21).

That should start things off but be sure to check with store clerks to help you locate any of todaya��s picks.

Merry Christmas good hunting and please plan ahead: do not drink and drive.d.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(s);d.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(s);

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