The holidays are finally here! Since giving the gift of wine can provide so much joy and
yet, for some consumers, an equal amount of fear here are few “no brainers” to help
knock out that shopping list from our friends at Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis.
We’ll start with sparkling wine. Not because it’s cliche. Not simply because it’s the
“celebration” go-to. Because sparkling wine pairs with practically anything!
From caviar to fried chicken. (Seriously, try it. Amazing!) Cost scares many off from the bubbles and, honestly, world-class Champagne isn’t getting cheaper anytime soon. However, not all sparkling wines come from Champagne, France. That’s where you can find labels that way over-deliver. Our recommendation: Non-Vintage Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley from Mendocino County, CA. ~ $20.
Roederer is the brand behind the king of all vinous bling, Cristal Champagne. This is
perhaps the best sparkling wine you’ll find for $20 bucks. (We’d argue Gruet from New
Mexico is very, very close second.) A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, this
has racing acidity that makes your mouth water and a nice Cristal-like bread character
along with bright citrus fruit. Consistently fantastic.
Here at the wine bar this has definitely been the year of Pinot Noir. Our flight of three
different labels from three different parts of the world has been a mainstay on the
wine llist since the day it was added. Instead of recommending a particular label let’s
talk about flavor profiles in the under $50 range. Pinot Noir is a finicky, difficult grape to grow and is extremely hard to produce. Our suggestion: Pick the flavor profile you like below and go with the bottle at the upper end of your gift budget for that person. For example: If you’re spending $50 to buy a bottle of Pinot Noir for someone, go for a bottle around $50. It’s not fool proof, but neither is making quality Pinot.
• Willamette Valley, Oregon – THE hot region in the Pinot Noir world right now. A
combination of Old World earthiness with New World bright red cherry fruit.
• Russian River, CA – World-class juice leaning towards cherry cola flavors often with
hints of spice from French Oak.
• Argentina – Under the radar up and coming region. Legendary Russian River Pinot
Noir producer Paul Hobbs is working the land here now, too. Juicy, bright red fruit in a
generally lighter style.
• Burgundy – The home of Pinot Noir. France didn’t invent winemaking. They’ve
certainly perfected it. So, so Old World. Forrest floor, mossy, red and black fruit.
Stunning. *Hint – If you go to the Burgundy section of your wine shop almost every red
wine is Pinot Noir. The generally don’t tell you on the label. (Gamay is the red grape to
the south in Beaujolais.) Don’t be afraid to ask an employee for a little help. The
French don’t make things easy.
Finally, since we have an eclectic, artisan beer and spirits selection here at Red Red
Wine Bar a couple of notes for that person or party this season. Hudson Baby Bourbon
from New York is one of the hot new handcrafted spirits on the shelves. A baby bottle
with a steeper than some would like price tag at about $42, but unique and delivers.
Scotch drinkers might like the Oban 18 Year Limited Edition Single Malt Whiskey. It’s a
smokey, dried fruit and seaweed gem that, after 18 years, is very polished.
And, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest a Maryland made product. Check out the new
line of beers from Burley Oak Brewing Company from Berlin, Maryland down the shore,
hon. Hand crafted ales that are just now getting statewide distribution like Rude Boy
Imperial Red Ale or Aboriginal Gangster IPA are getting a ton of buzz. Consider yourself
“in the know!”