The crisp mornings and cool evenings set the stage for the dawning of the holiday season. While exceptional wines deserve to be enjoyed throughout the seasons, the magic of the holidays inspires me to open up some of my time-tested favorites that never disappoint.

Henriot Champagne Rose is one of my go-to choices. In 1808, Apolline Henriot, a young widow of Nicolas Henriot, founded Maison Henriot.  As the owner of a vineyard in the heart of Montagne de Reims, Apolline had a deep love for the Champagne region, and the beauty of its vines and its landscapes.  This is how her desire to shed light on her lands through a Champagne was born.  She then founded the house and created the first Henriot Cuvee. 

The Henriot Rose is exquisitely nuanced and full of surprises.  Intense and playful, it’s delicate copper-pink appearance is enough to put a spring in your stride, while the Pinot Noir structure brings the exquisite balance.  A perfect way to start your holidays! $71

“The Joy” Rose from Promise Winery is my favorite choice to start off a Thanksgiving dinner.  I had the pleasure of meeting the proprietors Steve & Jennifer McPherson.  Their story is called “The Promise”.  It is what happens when an enthusiast foodie and passionate wine lover pull the ripcord on their corporate day jobs and pour their blood, sweat and savings into their dream.  PROMISE is a personal vision of husband and wife that has come to fruition.  A great story…..and wine!

The Joy is 100% Rose of Pinot Noir and is simply wonderful.  The nose begins with the refreshing smell of pink rose potpourri, gardenia, and evolves into nuances of sliced grapefruit, fresh strawberry, and delicate cherry skins.  The mouth offers a medley of fresh lemon and lime citrus candy, sour bing cherry, tropical fruits and early red raspberry.  Perfect with a charcuterie board.  $67

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa Valley is a smart choice for holiday meals and pairs well especially with Turkey ($64).  However, a sommelier spin of mine to play off of Chardonnay is Drouhin-Vaudon Premier Cru Chablis.  Chablis is a Chardonnay grape.  Chablis Premier Cru is a classification of the Chablis white wine classification of Burgundy, in northern-central France.  This classification is identified as a higher quality compared to Chablis. Soils such as limestone and chalk contribute to this wines minerality.  It also has a crisp acidity, with notes of lemon, lime and pear.  This pairs well with shell fish, crab and lobster. $35

Riverain Pinot Noir is hands down my go-to red wine. Winemaker of the year, Thomas Rivers Brown, makes this amazing Pinot Noir that is decadent with scents of Christmas spice, cherry, cranberry and a small amount of forest floor which gives it a bit of Burgundian style.  This pairs best with turkey/cranberry, duck, chicken or the red meats. $80

Moving up the red/full body/bigger tannin scale, I find myself going towards either a Merlot or of late, I really enjoy a Cab Franc.  For Merlot, try Doubleback Wines Merlot, from Walla Walla, Washington.  This is bold, with dark fruit, and heavy caramel on the nose.  $88

Brave & Maiden Estate Cabernet Franc from Santa Ynez, California is another excellent choice.  Cab Franc is traditionally a blending grape on the right bank of Bordeaux, France. It is slightly tart with blackberry on the nose along with a pinch of pepper. Baked berry shows up on the sip.  $40

No list would be complete without a great Cabernet Sauvignon.  Try Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, from Oakville, California.  Firm tannins provide a foundation of elegance.  100% Cabernet Sauvignon is soft and succulent on the palate in layers of strawberry, currant and blueberry.  Secondary notes of leather, cigar, and toasted oak add contrast with additional complexity.  Pairs excellent with hearty meats. $140

Cheers to the holidays and beyond!