Being the wine buyer on Thanksgiving is pretty easy. The food gets the spotlight, so the mission for the wine lover is to pick a wine that doesn’t fight with the food and, more importantly, make sure there’s enough of it.
This gives those of us who love wine a little time to reflect and be grateful for the blessings of the past year. Here are a few of mine.
Independently owned wine shops: Charlotteans are lucky to have a lot of excellent wine shops. In fact, I’d put our selection up against most other cities, and there isn’t a bad one out there.
Owned by people who work there and who care about both the wine and the customer’s experience, these shops offer a level of selection and service that make shopping for a holiday meal fun.
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All of them offer an interesting and eclectic mix of wines, not only the sought-after, high-end bottles, but bottles that are delicious and not as well known.
What Charlotte stores also do very well is finding bottles at all prices, including affordable gems that are perfect for a holiday crowd.
Arthur’s Wine Shop in SouthPark has a great find, the Seven Falls Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon. At $14.99, it’s a crowd-pleaser and practically a steal.
Screw caps: While it used to be that only the cheapest wine was in a bottle without a cork, that is no longer the case. There are lots of lovely wines with a screw cap that make serving wine super easy.
For example, Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand, widely available under $20, is ripe with citrus and passion-fruit flavors, but is also vibrant, and refreshing. It’s perfect with a complex and rich holiday meal.
Fun tip: When opening a screw cap, twist the bottom of the cap, not the top, and it will open easily.
Online wine knowledge: The line continues to blur between the professional student of wine and the wine enthusiast, and that really rocks. The Guild of Sommeliers, once a subscription-only website, has placed a great deal of information on its excellent and well-curated site, www.guildsomm.com.
Sites like Wine Searcher, www.winesearcher.com, are full of information about wine in general as well as specific bottles, and go beyond just price and availability. Fun and informative websites that might have appealed only to the wine geek in the past are now enjoyed by hobbyist and professional alike.
Visitors to sites like the Bubbly Professor, http://thebubblyprofessor.com, have fun taking quizzes, and reading in-depth information about their favorite producers and wine regions.
Eating and drinking local: We really can, these days. Check out your local farmer’s market or your favorite farm’s website for what’s available for your holiday feast.
We can drink local, too. North Carolina wineries (and breweries) are making awesome stuff, and a local-focus holiday meal isn’t complete without a bottle from a neighbor.
Take a pre-holiday drive to North Carolina wine country, and buy a few bottles from the wineries you visit. It’s such a fun way to spend a pretty fall day. Ragapple Lassie in Boonville makes a great chardonnay that was a hit at my house last year.