Wine can be a stressful subject during the holidays, if not all year. Drinking a glass is easy, gifting might even be easier (thanks to our helpful guides), but pairing a series of wines with a major meal? Not so much.
To help us choose the best affordable wines for pairing with festive meals, we reached out to L.A.-based sommelier, vintner (his own Inception brand is stunning) and wine consultant George Pitsironis (currently at Union in Pasadena) and asked him for his favorite go-to bottles. His answers are an intriguing selection of Italian wines guaranteed to make a distinct and singular impression on all who drink them.
The best part: all these wines are under $25. Buonissimo!
Althea Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
Start the meal out with sparkling. Pitsironis suggests Prosecco. With a gentler fizz and softer flavor profile than Champagne, Prosecco wakes up the palate and prepares it for the meal ahead.
Az. Ag. San Giovanni Il Lugana (Trebbiano di Lugana)
Near Lake Garda, the Italians grow a their own uniquely regional sauvignon blanc, not grassy as in many bottlings, but rather fresh, clean, and slightly frizzante (mini bubbles collect around the glass and tickle the mouth.) Lovely on its own, but the low alcohol makes it ideal to sip through an entire meal. And, if you are a true Italian, enjoy it with the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Santa Magdelena Weissburgunder Pinot Bianco, 2012
Most people have heard of Pinot Blanc, which is grown in Alsace, is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, producing a white grape of crisp minerality. France's Pinot Blanc is known as Weissburgunder in Germany and Italy's Germanic Alto Adige region, but also as the Italian Pinot Bianco. Pitsironis likes its "freshness and fruit with a hint of smoke that pairs beautifully with most fare." For a stunning evocation, try it with an appetizer of mussels.
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Francesco Borgogno Nebbiolo Langhe, 2012
"I love Nebbiolo for the fall and winter months — all expressions from the fresh Langhe style to full on Barbaresco and Barolo as well as the expressions from Valtelina," says Pitsironis. Nebbiolo is both a varietal from which wines like Barolo are made and a wine itself. The Borgogno chosen by Pitsironis is emblematic of the grape, being quite tannic with characteristics of tar and roses. While this might sound off-putting, the boldness of the wine works well with red meat, which needs a hefty wine to balance it. Standing rib roast? Bingo.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book Gin: A Global History. Her book The 12 Bottle Bar, co-written with David Solmonson, was released July 29. Email her at email@example.com. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.