If you are going to host or provide a beverage for a Christmas or New Year’s gathering, you don’t have to wait until wine-choice anxiety sets in to make the call on some reds, whites and sparkling styles to serve along with your spreads.
I am about to give you some ideas, but the first one involves a trip to your nearest Boise Co-op Wine Shop, which will host its annual “Really Big Wine and Cheese Sale” Sunday, Dec. 6, at its locations at 915 N. 8th St. in Boise and 2350 N. Eagle Road in Meridian. That includes free wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at both locations.
Between the stores, about 18 wholesalers will pour as many as 90 wines during the tasting. This will be an excellent opportunity to taste potentially dozens of wines — and imagine pairing them with the appetizers or entrees you plan to serve.
I can recommend wines all day long, but I advocate that people buy what they like. And there is no substitute for tasting them first.
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Here’s a tip for the Boise Co-op tasting: If you can arrive about 2 p.m., you’ll be there to catch the tail end of one group of wholesalers and the beginning of the next. In this manner, you’ll get the biggest sampling of wines in the shortest amount of time.
By the way, don’t be afraid to swirl, sip and — this is important — spit. Drink water between tastes. Remember, this is a wine tasting affair, a scouting mission to see what you like or what to serve. Think variety, not volume.
If and when you find something you like, both locations are offering all wines — not just the ones at the tasting — at a 15 percent discount all day Sunday.
Those curious about sparkling wine or champagne for their holidays might be interested in taking in some classes the Wine Shop offers. Get the details at boise.coop/wineshop.
Idaho pairs with holidays
Coming back from Utah recently I made an unscheduled stop at the Crossings Winery in Glenns Ferry. I tasted through the lineup and decided on two bottles I could not do without.
Bubbles (2012 vintage for $30) is the winery’s dry (about 1 percent residual sugar) Riesling done up sparkling style. I gave it a test drive with my Thanksgiving turkey guests, and they all loved it. Though I appreciate the crafty wax lid over the cork, I found it kind of hard to get it off. But once inside, this wine’s a winner.
Crossings 2012 Cab Franc ($18.50) is a sleeper. This is a pretty big red with some interesting tasting notes, which I call “vegetative” and others call “barnyard” or “green pepper.” Whatever you want to call it, I’m planning on pairing mine with a nice hunk of Christmas dinner beef when the day arrives.
On the road again
I don’t know about you, but hailing from the Midwest, there are times I end up in some pretty remote locations when heading home for the holidays. There are no Boise Co-op Wine Shops handy, and I might find myself looking for a bottle at a gas station or drugstore in some Podunk town (I can say that, since I am from Iowa). That’s when I rely on some old, reliable labels with huge distribution — such as Bogle.
Located about a half hour south of Sacramento in Clarksburg, Calif., Bogle is a family-owned producer of about 2 million cases. Now in its sixth generation of farming the Sacramento River Delta, their aim is to keep producing “$10 wines that taste like $20 wines,” and so forth. Their wines never disappoint me. I used to visit the tasting room and imagine it was a little mom-and-pop operation. Two of my favorites in their value lineup include a Petite Sirah and the Chardonnay.
If that’s your price point and you’re not leaving town, I found them at Winco recently for under $8, though I’ve paid as much as $10 to $12. Bogle wines might never send you over the moon, but you will always get more than your money’s worth.
Found on shelves
Last month I invited anybody to send me an email if they were interested in learning about the “value wines” (wines that taste better than their price) I find perusing the shelves. About 40 of you have signed up. I noticed that nearly all of the California David Girard Rhone style wines I recommended quickly disappeared from shelves at area Grocery Outlets. Stay tuned. And let me know what you find. Reach me at email@example.com