Does this sound familiar?
CHERISHED RELATIVE: I’m so glad we decided to do Christmas at your house, you always have the best wine!
YOU: Well it’s great to see everyone and….um..
CHERISHED RELATIVE: (takes a long, uninterrupted, 6oz slurp of his wine, draining the glass) say, this wine is super smooth! What was it?
YOU: Um, I was saving that, I guess the bottle’s done, but..
CHERISHED RELATIVE: Oh no worries, there’s another bottle right here (removes cork in 0.082 seconds), hey look, this one says Opus One, just like the penguin! (fills his glass entirely)
YOU: Actually that one’s a bit young to be…
CHERISHED RELATIVE: Oh, no worries! I found a straw by the kids table, I find that if you drink it through straws you don’t notice the taste so much. Makes it smoother, right?
YOU: (wipes single tear from cheek) I guess maybe if we just keep it down here, and…
CHERISHED RELATIVE: You know who just turned 19? The twins, and boy do they love penguins! They’re upstairs having a smoke, but I’m gonna grab some straws and give them the rest of this! We should do this every year!
An exaggeration but it’s true: The Holidays are coming and so is your family, and they know where your wine is. If you were saving some good stuff for a later date, your 19-year-old nephew with the funnel has different intentions, I promise you. You need Buffer Wines: affordable wines that taste really good – placed strategically in front or on top of the wines you want to save – that won’t make you cry when you see the bottles upended in your uncle’s beer hat. You know how firefighters do a controlled burn around the perimeter of the town to save it? That, but wine. I have some ideas:
Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, California. $12.99 (less when on sale) Tasty, generous, well-balanced Cali Cab with oodles of chocolate and raspberry compote, quite decadent. Unusually large body (especially for this price) can make even your sister-in-law who doesn’t quite trust you believe that you’re serving Napa. An ace in the hole, this, you’re welcome.
Veuve d’Argent Brut Sparkling, Burgundy, France. $15.99 (less when on sale) I could drink this all the time, the balance is perfect and the nose is zippy, mineral and apple-y. Made from Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc, with a nice dry, persistent finish. No, it isn’t Champagne (although it shares part of its name with one), but the bubbles are creamy-awesome and you won’t care when Aunt Freda mixes it with Coke Zero.
Mathilde Chapoutier, Languedoc, France. $23.99 (less when on sale) Your brother Mike, with his phone under the table who Googles each wine you serve to see how much you spent? Once he looks up “Chapoutier” he’ll offer to both wash and dry the dishes. As part of a legendary wine family from the northern Rhône, the young Mathilde Chapoutier sought to make wine that her friends could afford to drink, and this Grenache/Syrah blend from the south of France punches well past its weight, and drinks like a ripe Chateauneuf. Spicy white and black pepper notes with cassis and blackberry over a large, silky frame.
90-92 points Wine Advocate.
Written by Jordan Carrier, Vintage Room Consultant at Everything Wine – River District.