Loving Out Loud: Wines for the Holidays

We have officially entered the holiday season!  The stores are filled with decorations and my family has started to barrage me with questions about what I will be cooking for the holidays.  The cooking part is easy this year thanks to culinary school, but I struggle with what to drink.  Living in Northern California, there are HUNDREDS of wines available many of which are quite nice.  However, with the sheer number, I find myself overwhelmed and stressed out.  I am fearful of serving a bad wine that will ruin the entire dinner for my guests or worse, bringing what I think is a nice wine as a gift only to realize I brought swill with a pretty label.

So I have done what I think many of us do – we limit our selections to the few wines we like and live within our tiny albeit yummy bubble of delicious wines. However, this year is all about me stepping outside my comfort zone, so why shouldn’t this hold to all aspects of my life?  Now a man on a mission, I called upon my friend Martin Silva to navigate me through my wine-induced hysteria.

Resident Wine Expert & Cool Dude: Martin Silva

Martin is a dear college friend who threw caution to the wind, went back to school at UC-Davis to study viticulture and is now gainfully employed in the wine industry.  Aside from  being super knowledgeable about wines,  he and his partner live in one of the epicenters of the modern wine revolution, Healdsburg, CA and are passionate wine collectors.  Finally, Martin has the amazing ability to distill all the technical wine jumbo into manageable layman terms – a bonus if I was going to spend an afternoon with him getting tipsy ….err doing research.

I tasked Martin with finding 5 wines that he would serve to his fellow wine enthusiast friends, have a price point around $20 and  are commonly found in a large-box beverage center, grocery store or wine store. For extra fun, I threw in one more criteria that the wines had to be multi-course meaning that I could serve a variety of foods with them throughout a meal and they would pair well.  I don’t know about you, but changing to a different wine throughout the progression of a meal, while awesome in its own right, is a pain-in-the-you-know-what.  When I finally sit down to share a meal with friends and family, the last thing I want to do is get back up, find clean glasses or worry if the next wine tastes rancid.

Surprisingly Martin accepted the challenge and delivered 5 selections ranging from whites, reds and a dessert wine that I think will delight your palates and your dinner guests!  The first price shown is from the national beverage retailer Bev Mo while the price in parenthesis is from the winery’s own web site.  The dual pricing is to show the range of prices you may experience when looking for the wine in your own neck of the woods.  Here are Martin’s selections in no particular order:

J Wine Cuvée 20 NV $19.99 ($22.00)

A light and crisp bubbly with the slightest hint of sweetness – a good all-purpose sparkling wine.


Groth Sauvignon Blanc $17.99 ($19.00)

A dry, crisp white wine with lots of citrus and melons character. A favorite among white wine drinkers who are looking for an alternative to Chardonnay


La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $19.99 ($24.00)

Bright cherry flavors and soft tannins allow this wine to be paired with a wide range of dishes.


Beaulieu Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $21.99 ($30.00)

A bold red wine with loads of blackberry and black cherry, topped with a dusting of cocoa. The substantial tannins in this wine command a flavorful dish to compliment its flavors.

Quady Electra Orange Muscat $12.99 ($13.00)

This low alcohol wine (4% ABV) is not syrupy sweet like most dessert wines. Due to its lightness, this wine can also be served as a refreshing picnic wine.

I know I will be out this weekend picking up one of each of these to try out on my holiday guests!  Cheers to Martin for his great selections!

I would love to hear back from visitors who try out one of these wines and what they thought of the recommendations!


3 thoughts on “Loving Out Loud: Wines for the Holidays

  1. WOW. I found your blog through better after and have spent the last half hour or so just loving everything about it.
    I find you brave in your decision to leave school for now. My wise father-in-law once told me, “you don’t have to do something forever. Just do it till you don’t like it anymore, then move on.” Those words liberated me to close doors when I needed to and look ahead for new adventures. Bless you.
    I’ll give these wines a try and let you know if we like them.

  2. Pingback: Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu Suggestions « Living Life Out Loud

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