Top Wines for the Holidays

Top Wines for the Holidays

I love cars. When my father brought home a light blue 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix, equipped with bucket seats, automatic gear shift in the floor console, AM/FM radio and automatic windows, I was immediately hooked. It was also very useful once I had a driver’s license cruising around Brooklyn. As we often said, “it’s under the hood.”

I love wine. Although I have been professionally engaged in the wine trade for almost 40 years, I still harbor considerable excitement when I am introduced to a new vintage much in the same way I am thrilled to see or, better yet, drive a new model of a favorite automobile.

Fabulous vehicles are produced in Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and America with a variety of sizes, colors and relative power and handling. The wines produced in these countries also have a design, character, and personality similar to the cars we are familiar with and often see on our streets, highways, and driveways. Often tradition and innovation dictate what we might see in the future, and the anticipation of the next vintage or model is always impressive. A car lover is anxious to see what is under the hood, and a wine lover is interested to taste what’s in the bottle.

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With the Holiday Season upon us, I thought I’d share some insight about a few wines ideal to enjoy during this festive and giving time. My favorite German wine is called Riesling and it’s light body, low alcohol and its subtle flavors suggest delicacy and elegance. Look for wines born from the Mosel Valley, often in green bottles. Reliable producers include Dr. Loosen and Schmitt Sohne wines. I recommend seeking labels which have ‘Riesling’ clearly marked on the label for best selection.

Americans love Chardonnay and its golden color, multi-white fruit and floral aromas with a subtle vanilla spice are very appealing. The wine is often fermented and aged in French oak barrels. Kendall Jackson and Beringer overdeliver due to their enormous vineyard holdings up and down the cool California coast where the finest parcels of land are located.

Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich and full-bodied red wine, delivers a luxury color, aroma, and texture that is noteworthy. Full throttle, these wines are often aged for many months in selected oak barrels. If you like powerful trucks, or an upmarket SUV this wine varietal might be for you. Robert Mondavi Winery or Napa Cellars are widely distributed in retail package stores and grocery outlets. For a special gift look for Silver Oak.

Silver Oak Wines

Don’t forget a sparkling wine for a toast at midnight on New Year’s Eve or simply as a conversation starter. Korbell Brut and Michelle Rose are fine values. Perhaps an Italian Prosecco such as Avissi, a medium dry example or as a style to accompany dessert. Martini is the global standard for the ever popular Asti. For a special friend or to enjoy true French Champagne some of my go-to selections are Nicolas Feuillatte, Collet and Taittinger. A toast to you for a healthy and prosperous 2019. Your wine questions answered at


Guest Writer Michael Venezia

Michael Venezia is a four-decade wine professional. His experience has ranged from working the 1980 harvest in St. Emilion, France to serving as the Director of Wine Education for United Distributors Inc., Georgia’s largest beverage alcohol wholesale company. In addition, he was Adjunct Professor of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University.


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