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Mountain Home Magazine

The Twelve Wines of Christmas

Darren Johnson

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Riesling for the roasted turkey. And it was from the Finger Lakes, which made me incredibly happy. After all, Wine Enthusiast magazine just named New York State the Wine Region of the Year! And Riesling is rockin’ it. There is no better wine for the big feast. Blessed with lots of great acidity and luscious fruit flavors, Riesling is a must for your holiday pantry. This is way more practical than the partridge in the pear tree thing.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Two Tasty Tawnies. As in Tawny Porto, the sweet fortified wine made in Portugal. There are lots of different styles of Port wine, including the Ruby (which is younger and more red in color), and the Tawny (which is aged longer and more caramel in color). The Ruby versions pair wonderfully with dark chocolate, but the Tawny versions are the best with gooey, nutty desserts. Or better yet, try them with hearty blue cheeses like Stilton and Gorgonzola. As the weather outside gets frightful, these wines become more delightful.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Three French Reds. I am an Old World girl at heart, and am proud to admit that I have a knack for collecting some of the classic reds of France. Give me a Bordeaux, a Burgundy, and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape and I am apt to stop my constant yapping and go into a quiet and pensive appreciation of what is in my glass. I have a feeling that is what my true love was hoping.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Four Calling Birds. And they keep repeating, “Don’t open any expensive bottles after twelve midnight.” This is a very important rule for wine lovers, and one of which I constantly need to be reminded. Pour the good stuff early on, when your taste buds can actually appreciate it. I have stationed that birdcage right next to my California Cult Cabernets.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Five Golden Rings! What on earth was he thinking?

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Six Kitty Catnips. Surprisingly, wine is not the only thing I love in life. No, I am not crazy about catnip. I am crazy about fluffy felines, and I keep myself surrounded by them. They love the holidays, too, and this is the gift that I offer them, just so they stay out of my wine.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Seven Sublime Chablis. And I am not talking about the three-liter boxes. Real Chablis wines are like magic, and are produced from vineyards that grow from one of the earth’s most ancient ocean beds in the northern part of Burgundy, France. These wines are usually unoaked, and show a pure expression of the mineral soils where they are produced. The top ones come from seven Grand Cru villages: Bougros, Blanchot, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Les Preusses, Vaudésir, Valmur. Try a bottle with oysters this holiday season. And pray that the French may someday forgive those crazy Californians for putting that precious wine region’s namesake on a cardboard box that was a field blend of grapes. They knew not what they did.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eight Bottles Sparkling. I would have killed him if he’d forgotten these. After all, the holidays just aren’t the holidays without a little bubbly. My favorite festive fizzies include French Champagne, Alsatian Crémant, Spanish Cava, German Sekt, Italian Prosecco, Asti Spumante, Aussie Sparkling Shiraz, and American Alka Seltzer.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Nine Vinho Verdes. Even though these crisp, quaffable whites are made for warm weather, I cannot refuse them in any season. And you guessed it—there are nine specific villages in northern Portugal that make the best ones. They are: Baião, Paiva, Ave, Sousa, Monção, Cávado, Lima, Amarante, and Basto. This is truly turning out to be a very geeky Christmas, and I am loving it.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Ten New Wine Glasses. Because that is exactly how many I broke this year.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eleven Elegant Eisweins. Also called ice wines, these luscious nectars are made from late harvested grapes that have frozen on the vine. Should I mention that a good percentage of this gift came from the cool climate of the Finger Lakes of New York? No, you already knew that. These wines are mandatory accompaniments to all holiday cheesecakes and pumpkin pies. And late night mistletoe kisses.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Twelve Wooden Wine Racks. Thank goodness, because I was running out of space (see previous paragraphs). Wine must be stored on its side in a wine rack, or upside down in the case in which it came. You always want to position the bottle so that the liquid wine is touching the cork, keeping it moist and expanded so that it doesn’t dry out. Unfortunately for my true love, this gift was tough to wrap.

In return, my true love is getting exactly what he wants. A new tie.

Wishing you all much heartfelt giving and receiving this holiday season!

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