How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays Pt. 3

From selecting wines for parties and pairings, to finding great values or gems worthy of a splurge; wine questions are abundant this time of year! So, we asked our wine advisors to share their tips on ways navigate the world of wine during the holidays. Here's the last edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

What's your go-to Champagne alternative? 

JORGE: Blanquette de Limoux, which not only is easy to find, but way less expensive and still has that French flavor! 

PETE: You can always look to Cremant d'Alsace, Franciacorta, Cava and even Prosecco for great value. There are many great alternatives but to name a few:

Francois Chidaine, Vouvray, "Petillant Natural," Loire Valley, France.
Analemma, "Atavus-Blanc de Noirs, Columbia Gorge, Washington
Gruet, Brut, New Mexico
Jansz, Brut Rose, Tasmania, Australia  

JENNIFER: Cremant de Loire, it's crisp and fresh! Outside of France, I think there is great Cava and Prosecco to be found. Both regions, in Spain and Italy respectively, are producing beautiful, dry wines, often for a fraction of Champagne prices. 

ALEX: I usually go for a high end Cava such as the Naveran "Dama", Raventós i Blanc or Gramona Brut Nature Gran Reserva. 

GINA: Franciacorta, Italy's best example of sparkling, is often overlooked and rarely disappoints. Cà del Bosco and Bellavista are good examples. For bargain sparkling made in Méthode Champenoise, I think Graham Beck Brut is a great value.

What's the your go-to for value Champagne? 

JORGE: Couple options are Robert Moncuit and Piper-Heidsieck! 

PETE: Bereche & Fils, Brut Reserve, Montagne de Reims, NV and Ayala, Brut Majeur, Ay, NV.  These are both great bottles that are on the dry end for a brut, but are not overly austere.  The Bereche family has been in Champagne since the mid-19th century, having sold their grapes to larger houses.  It's only in recent decades that they started bottling their own wines and the results have been fantastic. Ayala is a smaller house with a focus on low-dosage, Chardonnay dominated bottlings.  A great discovery.  

JENNIFER: Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne is a great bottle of bubbly, often found for less then $40! 

ALEX: Pierre Peters I simple adore. Most grower Champagnes offer a lower price point than some of the more established Champagne houses. Some can be tough to find but this one for the most part is readily available. 

GINA: Pol Roger Brut Réserve and Tarlant Brut Zero. Both are boutique producers who produce well balanced, bright, and versatile wines. 

How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays Part Two

From parties to pairings, finding great values, or gems worthy of a splurge; wine questions are abundant this time of year! So we asked our wine advisors to share their tips on ways navigate the world of wine during the Holidays. Enjoy the second edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

What style of wine do you bring to a holiday party?

JORGE: Bubbles!!!! Any kind. It’s always a great start to a party! 

PETE:  Fontodi, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy. Because Chianti Classico needs more love and this wine over delivers every time. 

JENNIFER: It's always fun to bring a juicy Beaujolais to a party. It's a great wine to start an evening with, and often pairs well with a variety of appetizers. 

ALEX: I like to bring textural white wines such as Chenin Blanc from the Loire, Muscadet, Ribolla Gialla, or wines from the Savoie region. Whites can get cast to the side a bit in the winter months, but a nice bottle of Chenin will go well with a wide array of finger foods. 

GINA: Champagne. It's a sure way to liven up the party and it goes with everything. Rosé champagne in particular is always a crowd pleaser. 

What's your favorite Holiday food & wine pairing?

photo credit:  Edible Experiences

photo credit: Edible Experiences

JORGE: Pinot Noir and Turkey is my favorite combo, but there are many options to choose from. 

PETE: Syrah and rib roast:  Syrah has a meatiness to it that pairs perfectly with roasted meats.  Try Domaine Monier Perreol, St. Joseph for a perfect example of what Syrah can do with food. 

JENNIFER: Oysters and champagne! Nothing starts a party then fresh oysters and a bottle of delicious bubbly.

ALEX: Sherry is so overlooked for pairings! There is a sherry style for every food imaginable. Dry Amontillado or Palo Cortado styles go great with roasted meats and caramelized vegetables. The PX style is a great dessert pairing with chocolate bark. But my favorite pairing, (to mirror Jennifer) has got to be Champagne & oysters. 

GINA: If splurging is an option, anything with truffles and champagne. A raw bar with Champagne or Chablis is always delightful. 

How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays - part one

From selecting wines for parties and pairings, to finding great values or gems worthy of a splurge; wine questions are abundant this time of year! So, we asked our wine advisors to share their tips on ways navigate the world of wine during the holidays. Here's the first edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

holiday party

What do you recommend for Holiday parties that won’t break the bank?

JORGE: I think Riesling is one of the best deals, with a touch of sweetness and lower alcohol always delivers, especially from Germany! 

PETE: For white: Ponzi Reserve Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon - a very high quality chardonnay for under $30 that stands up to higher priced California bottlings. For red:  Julien Sunier, Regnie, Beaujolais Cru, France - a crowd pleaser and for some, a discovery of how fantastic Beaujolais can be when hand crafted from producers such as Sunier.  Often under $30, Beaujolais from one of the top crus can be some of the best values for red wine in the world.

JENNIFER: For big holiday parties, I look for wines from the Southern Hemisphere. You can find great Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or a yummy red from South America without spending lots of money.

ALEX: You will always find great value in Spanish wines! Cava for a Champagne alternative, Ribera del Duero as an alternative to Cabernet, or Mencia for an alternative to Pinot Noir. But especially if you bring an older vintage Rioja, (You'll be the life of the party.) and it's usually very well priced! 

GINA: I always choose grower champagne if there's wiggle room in the budget. These bottles are labeled with RM (récoltant-manipulant) and offer tremendous value for the quality. NV Tarlant Brut Zero is my current go to value in this category. With a more limited budget, I opt for Chenin Blanc which is super versatile and can be produced in a wide range of styles, from bone dry to rather sweet. Some delicious ones hail from the Loire Valley, California, and the North Fork of Long Island. You can't go wrong with Domaine Huet. I also love Lieu Dit from Santa Barbara.

What wine do you splurge on for the holidays?

JORGE: That’s is a tough one. Any wine with age, and I mean like 20 or 30 years old, preferably from the old world. 

PETE: There are too many to choose but here are three well worth the cash.

Egon Muller, Scharzhorberger, Kabinett, Saar, Germany
Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
An old of vintage of Domaine Jamet, Cote-Rotie, Rhone Valley, France

JENNIFER: Deep, rich red wines. I feel my biggest "splurge" during the holidays is reaching in deep of my personal cellar to find older vintages. It's the perfect time of year to share a special bottle with your close family and friends.  

ALEX: Either 1. A few bottles of older of Burgundy (especially older Chablis from a good producer). Or 2. Lots of grower Champagne and Cru Beaujolais! 

GINA: Older vintages for sure. Some of the best values for classic wines with age can be found in Barolo or Barbaresco. They're the fraction of the cost of Bordeaux and Burgundy. I've had some amazing wines from the 60's and '70s from a range of producers and they haven't failed me.  And of course, Jacque Selosse Champagne if I can find it! 

wine gifting

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Fall Weather Style Whites

As the cooler weather approaches, crips whites may not sound as appealing, but at an event you will always have white-wine-only drinkers! The key is to find the right kind of white, that can offer the texture to stand up to both the heartier food and cold weather to come. Here are some regions, style and varieties to look out for this Fall.


white rioja

Yes, the Rioja region makes white wine too! These wines are generally made from the Viura grape and if from a high quality producer, these wines can have a luscious body and are a great alternative for Chardonnay fans.

sandlands chenin blanc

chenin blanc

This style of grape is made most famously in the Loire Valley in France. It's a total reflection of Fall as it's common for the variety to show a slight amber hue and its nose often screams of apples and pears. It is an aromatic grape variety that can range from bone dry to sweet on the palate. You can find great New World examples of it as well, such as this Sandlands Chenin Blanc or Lo-Fi. 


ribolla gialla

This Italian grape comes from Northern Italy, where traditionally it's made with a touch of skin contact. This technique can add body and a slight tannic grip to it that makes it feel like a light red, but tastes like a white. The California Ribolla Gialla made from Matthaisson offers this traditional style. 

oxidative champagne

"oxidative" champagne 

Bubbles are a great choice for celebrations, although not all Champagne will offer that fresh verve with brioche flavor that livens you up. There are two main techniques used to make Champagne; one being the "reductive" style wherein less oxygen is used during the winemaking process, this results in crisper fresher styles of wine.  The other style is "oxidative", with this style as you can imagine, oxygen is very much welcome,  resulting in a creamier style with a hint of caramelization, exotic spices, and dehydrated fruit flavor. A good example of this style is Bollinger or another richer style of Champagne is Aubry

wine for events

Need help finding the right wines for your next event? We can source a customized, highly curated selection of wines to match the cuisine, theme, budget or preferences! Contact wine@domainesomm to get started.