Sometimes, it’s nice to shop for wines the way you might go to a farmers market and shop for produce: “Here’s something inexpensive from Spain with fresh fruit and bright acidity that would go well with pizza tonight." "Those German rieslings would make great after-dinner drinks to enjoy with fresh berries." "This upscale barbera d’Asti is just what we need when we invite guests in for a lamb stew.”
Grab your entertainment calendar and start marking off which wines you'll need for holiday-season fêtes and dinners.
Gérard Bertrand Code Rouge "Brut Eternel” Blanc de Blanc NV ($26). Note that the bottle is red, but the wine isn’t. It's a sparkler (chardonnay, chenin blanc, and mauzac) from the Languedoc — rich, clean, and very flavorful with some finishing notes of brioche.
Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($10). Soft, green-herbal flavors with hints of creaminess and a touch of sweetness.
Graffigna Centenario San Juan Pinot Grigio Reserve 2015 ($11). Good crisp flavors, a touch of oiliness, light spiciness, moderate weight, and good finishing acidity.
Luna Nuda Dolomiti Pinot Grigio 2015 ($15). Nice green fruits, moderately full though a little flabby in the finish.
Müller-Catoir Mussbacher Riesling Kabinett 2012 ($29). A low-alcohol wine (9 percent) that has fruity-tart flavors and a light spritz but is nevertheless of moderate weight.
Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese 2013 ($30). Nice mixture, rich and deep, of fresh peach and pear with tart minerality and some oil aromas typical of some rieslings.
Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack Rheingau Riesling Trocken GG 2013 ($45). A wine that drifts to the savory side with dried herbs and a tart, lean finish.
Wayfarer Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay 2014 ($78). Good structure and lots of minerality, moderate body, and fresh flavors of vanilla, lemon, and tart apple.
M de Mulonnière Rosé d’Anjou 2015 ($15). Full, fruity, and slightly sweet with fresh strawberry flavors.
López de Haro Rioja Tempranillo 2015 ($8). Quite nice — lean and racy with a combination of fresh and raisiny grape flavors.
López de Haro Rioja Crianza 2013 ($9). Very good tart fruit with a pleasant dollop of black raspberries.
Fairvalley South Africa Pinotage 2012 ($10). The taste is different but interesting — imagine the green flavors of a Marlborough sauvignon blanc wrapped up in a red body.
López de Haro Rioja Reserva 2009 ($11). Rich but lean with a mix of red fruits, dried fruits, savory herbs, and a little bacon.
Coppo “L’Avvocata” Barbera d’Asti 2014 ($15). Enjoyable raspberry flavors, moderate body, lean finish — reminiscent of a good Côtes-du-Rhône.
David Phinney Locations “AR” Argentina Red Wine NV ($18). Bright and lively, somewhat assertive, lots of red fruit, good tannins.
Glenelly Glass Collection Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($18). A good, affordable food wine with rounded, rich, dark fruits and some drying tannins.
Dave Phinney Locations “E” Spanish Red Wine NV ($19). Enjoyable with very bright fruit, including some cranberry notes.
Dave Phinney Locations “F” French Red Wine NV ($19). One of those satisfying wines where the redfruit flavors roll into a crisp finish.
Coppo “Camp du Rouss” Barbera d’Asti 2012 ($21). A good wine by the glass with tart cherry flavors and a lean finish.
Glenelly Stellenbosch Estate Reserve Red 2014 ($25). Mainly cabernet sauvignon and shiraz with so much stuffing — wood and savory notes — that it almost gets in the way of the fruit, but nevertheless enjoyable.
Ruffino Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2012 ($25). A straightforward chianti classico riserva with good structure and dark cherry flavors.
Müller-Catoir Haardt Spätburgunder 2012 ($40). This German pinot noir somewhat resembles a gamay from Beaujolais in its light cherry flavors and savory, dried herbal notes.
Ruffino Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva Gran Selezione ($41). Good ripe but tart fruit with medium body and pleasant dark-wood notes.
Coppo Pomorosso Barbera d’Asti 2010 ($50). Delicious — tight and leathery, almost like a Barolo, with dark cherry flavors.