Our Top Wines for a Bayou City Christmas (And a Few Vino-Related Gifts)
As I have done every year since I moved to Texas five holiday seasons ago, I'll be spending Christmas eve on Cow Bayou in Bridge City, East Texas (about 20 minutes up the road from Orange, where my wife was born).
Photo by Jeremy Parzen. Non-alcoholic elderberry syrup from one of Austria's most famous organic wineries can be diluted with sparkling water or drizzled over ice cream. The Houston Wine Merchant has it for under $30.
Uncle Tim will make his famous gumbo, spiked with his hard-boiled-egg-laced potato salad, Aunt Pam (not really our aunt, but she still kisses me on the lips) will bring fried boudin balls and I'll bring a mixed case of wine.
The get-together will include roughly 30 relatives and extended family friends, each with personal beverage preferences (Uncle Tim's is Chivas and diet Sprite).
As for many American families, Christmas isn't the occasion for breaking out my ten-year-old Nebbiolo or the single-vineyard Burgundy I've been saving. No, it's time for value and crowd-pleasers. No meditation wines here, ma'am, just some good ol' reliable grape wine.
Here's my list of what I'll be drinking on the bayou this year. Nearly every wine is under the $25 mark, and some can be had for less than $20. My top-priced splurge wine weighs in at less than $35. The emphasis is on food-friendliness, affordability and the fun factor.
And I've also thrown in a nonalcoholic syrup from a favorite organic Austrian winery (see photo above), a gift idea, and handy and inexpensive serving tool.
Merry Christmas, y'all!
Nicolas Potel 2011 Mâcon-Villages
Photo by Jeremy Parzen. Everything about this wine from a leading Burdgundian producers says "Christmas," including the price.
Fresh, bright, fruit-driven and minerally balanced Chardonnay from southern Burgundy. A gorgeous, approachable, and affordable expression from one of the world's most famous appellations by one of its most respected producers. From wine snob to the "I like ice cubes in my Chardonnay" watcher of Real Housewives, you can't go wrong with this wine. (still white, Houston Wine Merchant, under $20)
Truchard 2012 Roussanne
Even before the "new wave" of California wines began to emerge a few years ago, Truchard was making food-friendly, balanced wines that are always welcome at my table. This stone-fruit-driven Roussanne, grown in Carneros, where proximity to the ocean and cool evening temperatures help to preserve freshness in the wine, is just right with roast turkey breast. (still white, Houston Wine Merchant, under $25)
Ecker-Eckhof 2011 Roter Veltliner
I've written here about this spicy "gray" (not red, not white) grape from Austria before. Its unforgettable spearmint note makes it ideal for the spiral ham my mother-in-law will bring to the Christmas eve table. (white, Houston Wine Merchant, under $20)