Become something of a wine expert in approximately five minutes. By Jeanne O’Brien Coffey
Want to bring something new to your holiday table? Northshore asked three area wine shops for their favorite holiday tipples.
Leary’s Fine Wines
EXPERT:Rich Souza, wine director
WHITE WINE: GewÃ¼rztraminer
WHY DRINK IT? The complex ripeness of GewÃ¼rzt, for short, shows a tropical Asian spice and fruit palate, surprising for a white wine that thrives in the cool, mountainous Alsace region of France. “Everyone compares it to lychee nuts for the tropical notes, but you’ll also notice different types of melon, Asian-type spice, and white pepper,” Souza says. “People really like it at the table-it pairs well with the collage of food at Thanksgiving, especially.” Don’t let the name, pronounced ge-VOORZT-tra-meener, scare you off. Just ask for GewÃ¼rzt, or even better, write it down.
NAMES TO KNOW: Stick with the Alsace region of France, advises Souza. Trimbach, Pierre Sparr, and Leon Beyer are good producers.
WHAT TO PAY: Souza says $20 is the sweet spot-you can spend less, but it will lack complexity.
Salem Wine Imports
EXPERTS: Katherine Genis, proprietor, and Eric Olson, previous owner
RED WINE: Beaujolais Nouveau
WHY DRINK IT? Genis, who recently purchased the Salem wine emporium, is the first to admit that this lighter-style red wine has a bad rap, but she says independent producers using old-world methods make “the most charming and enjoyable wine for Thanksgiving dinner, or chilled, with friends every evening.” She means it-she purchases a 20-liter barrel every year for entertaining over the holiday season.Â Soft and fruity, yet dry and relatively low in alcohol, this simple wine, explains Olson, when chilled, will sing with the complexity of a Thanksgiving meal, from the turkey and stuffing right down to the veggies and sauces. It arrives the third week in November and is meant to be enjoyed young-don’t buy the Nouveau after New Year’s.Â “[Enthusiasts] wait in lines in bistros around France to try the new vintage and celebrate life and the harvest,” Genis says.
NAMES TO KNOW: Coquelet, Coudert, Diochon, and Dupeuble are some great “natural” producers, Olson says, adding, “No [Georges] Duboeuf, please.”
WHAT TO PAY: $12 to $20
Andover Classic Wines
EXPERT: Andrea DiFiore, wine and store manager
SWEET WINE: Vintage Port
WHY DRINK IT? The wine world is abuzz over the quality of port from the 2011 vintage, which will be on shelves this holiday season. A sweet red wine, produced exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal, port can be “a profound and complex wine with incredible intensity,” says DiFiore. Port’s rich mixture of fruit and spice notes, with velvety chocolate overtones, make it an ideal dessert tipple with fruit or chocolate, but the daring may try it with rich foods like roast lamb.
“Nothing is better after a meal in the wintertime, sitting in front of the fire as the night winds down,” DiFiore declares.
NAMES TO KNOW: Taylor Fladgate, Dows, and W. & J. Graham’s are excellent bets.
WHAT TO PAY: At $80 to $110 a bottle, quality vintage port is not cheap. But the experience is worth volumes-and one bottle can be shared with many people. Vintage port can also age, making it a thoughtful holiday gift for wine-loving friends.