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These Wines Let You Bring the Party With You

No matter the occasion, one of these bottles is guaranteed to wow.

Best Wines for Holiday Parties Photo: Shutterstock

When someone claims that they bring the party with them wherever they go, they’re probably talking about their bubbly personality and effusive conversational skills. But there’s something to be said for just knowing the right wine to walk through the door with – where we come from, that’s the very definition of bringing the party with you. To that end, we’ve rounded up no fewer than 33 wines and sorted them into groups ideal for every kind of party you might have this holiday season. Whether it’s a formal dinner made from a favorite meal by one of America’s top chefs, a low-key and casual open house, an office party, Hanukah celebration, or a traditional family Christmas meal, we have you covered. And if you want additional help with holiday drinks, be sure to check out our host’s guide to spirits and Champagnes.

Black-Tie Dinner

Bring wines with a pedigree from classic producers in their regions.

M. Chapoutier 2015 L’Ermite Ermitage Blanc

The estate is one of the kings of Rhône winemaking, and this white wine is a crowning achievement—from the grandest of crus. Only 100 cases of it are produced annually, made from 100 percent Marsanne grown at the top of Hermitage Hill, which allows for long ripening. The 100-year-old vines are pruned to yield fewer berries, but all of the best quality. Fragrant with vanilla and linden tree, it tastes round and full of ripe white peaches and apricots. This is a truly memorable wine. ($785)

Château De La Tour 2015 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru

This Burgundy is one of those against which all others are judged in the Chassagne-Montrachet appellation. The grapes for the wine are sourced from one small plot, planted in 1910, in the middle of the region’s most renowned vineyard, Clos Vougeot. Its heady perfume is of cheese and pepper, with some smoke and acid on the palate. It’s a beautifully balanced and complex wine. ($350)

Aubert 2014 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast

From cool-climate territory in the western reaches of Sonoma, this complex Chardonnay is beautifully balanced between freshness and layers of rich citrus and apple, with touches of butteriness and elegant oak spice. ($150)

Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley vineyard  Photo: Jennifer Larsen/Shutterstock

Domaine Roy & Fils 2016 Pinot Noir Iron Filbert Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley

Here is evidence of the balance Willamette Valley Pinot Noir enjoys, halfway between the character of red Burgundy and the generous fruit of California Pinot. Vibrant red and blue fruit flavors are wrapped in beautiful floral aromas and layered underneath with earth and spice. ($118)

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 Napa Valley

From the producer of the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that famously beat the top Bordeaux in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting comes a winning current release of its top bottling, 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon—mocha, spice, and toast unfold under dark berries and cassis, with fine

tannins showing on a long finish. ($295)

L'Ecole Bordeaux

L’Ecole Bordeaux  Photo: Courtesy of L'Ecole

L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Bordeaux Blend Estate Ferguson Walla Walla Valley

It’s enough to know that the 2011 from Ferguson (the first vintage off the vineyard) was named the Best International Bordeaux Blend at the Decanter World Wine Awards. The 2015 delivers on expectations, with pure and concentrated fruit, vibrant acidity, lovely floral aromas, and an underlying flintiness. ($65)

Penfolds Grange

Penfolds Grange  Photo: Courtesy of Penfolds

Penfolds 2014 Grange Bin 95

Recently named a First Growth by the Liv-Ex index in its re-creation of the 1855 classification of Bordeaux, Grange is simply Australia’s most celebrated wine. It’s inky, ripe, and powerful, with black and blue fruit flavors packed with cured meat, exotic spice, and licorice. ($850)

 

Holiday Open House

These affordable wines will start conversations.

Jayson by Pahlmeyer

Jayson by Pahlmeyer  Photo: Courtesy of Pahlmeyer

Jayson 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

A refreshing sipper from Pahlmeyer’s more affordable Jayson label, this Sauvignon Blanc offers up a gamut of citrus, from lemon and lime to grapefruit, with hints of stone fruit, green herbs, and vibrant minerality. ($30)

Crown Point wines

Crown Point wines  Photo: Courtesy of Crown Point

Crown Point 2014 Estate Selection

In the tiny Happy Canyon appellation just north of California’s Santa Barbara, Crown Point’s Bordeaux grapes do indeed seem to be growing up well-adjusted and perfectly balanced under the care lavished upon them by winemaker Adam Henkel. This Bordeaux-style blend—the first one released by the winery—is a mix of the five varietals grown at multiple elevations on the estate. It is velvety in texture, and ripe raspberries and baking spices dominate the palate. ($150)

Cliff Lede 2015 High Fidelity Napa Valley

This Right Bank–style Bordeaux blend combines the generous, lush fruit of Merlot with the elegant structure of Cabernet Franc. Dark fruit, spice, and earth provide a brooding quality that’s

kept in check by perfumed aromas. ($85)

Pursued By Bear 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

From actor Kyle MacLachlan, this Washington Cabernet is plush, with ripe plum and dark berry flavors, but bright acidity keeps the wine fresh. (MacLachlan took his label cue from that most famous of Shakespeare’s stage directions, from The Winter’s Tale—“Exit, pursued by a bear.”) ($60)

Addendum 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley

Fans of Fess Parker’s signature coonskin cap have long enjoyed his Santa Barbara wines, and now his children have expanded the family’s footprint to Napa Valley with Addendum. The 2015 from the famed Stagecoach Vineyard opens with blue fruit, pepper, violets, and flint; a rush of mulberry and plum on the palate has the backbone of firm but tamed tannins and the pleasure of an endless finish. ($95)

Correlation Cabernet

Correlation Cabernet  Photo: Courtesy of Correlation Wine Company

Correlation Wine Company 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Just when you think there can’t possibly be another Napa Valley Cabernet in the offing, this intriguing example emerges from second generation vintner Wesley Steffens. A nose of dusty berries and plums, dried florals, cedar, espresso, and white pepper leads to vibrant red fruit flavors with polished tannins and an impressively long finish. ($85)

Domaines Barons De Rothschild 2014 Légende Saint-Émilion

A wine for less than $50 from Lafite? Absolutely. One of five wines the First Growth château has released under the Légende label, this blend of 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Franc offers classic Right Bank character, with soft, rounded tannins and high-toned aromatics from the Merlot–Cab Franc partnership. Cassis layered with dark blossoms, leather, and tobacco on the nose turns to brighter fruit flavors—red currant—edged with crushed rock and hints of citrus. ($45)

 

Hanukkah Celebration

Choose premium kosher wines or others that simply pair beautifully with a traditional Hanukkah menu.

Covenant 2015 Solomon Lot 70 Napa Valley

This small-production, top-tier kosher red from Covenant pays homage to the late Leslie Rudd, of Napa’s highly touted Rudd Estate, who was a Covenant cofounder. With fruit from his vineyards on the valley floor and in the mountains, this blend is powerful and lush, but elegant. Spiced blackberry dominates through a long, ripe finish. ($150)

Herzog 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition Clone #6 Chalk Hill

This large kosher-wine producer might be better known for less expensive reds for the holidays, but its storied top-tier Cabernet Sauvignon, from a single clone, is notable. Small berries produce intensely concentrated dark fruit flavors, layered with a touch of licorice, vanilla, and spice. ($170)

Shirah 2014 Syrah Kimsey Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara

A newcomer to the kosher-wine scene, Shirah is focusing on Rhône varieties. This Syrah from Santa Barbara is downright perfumed, with black and blue fruit, swirling with smoke, mocha, warm spice, and resiny herbs. ($55)

Abeja Merlot

Abeja Merlot  Photo: Courtesy of Abeja

Abeja 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley

While this Merlot from Washington State isn’t kosher, it would be a knockout with great brisket. Dark, spicy cherry fruit and savory espresso are layered with haunting notes of florals and earth wrapped in a firm but elegant tannin structure. ($45)

Chateau Boswell

Chateau Boswell  Photo: Courtesy

Château Boswell 2016 Chardonnay True Course Russian River Valley

Like the Abeja Merlot, this Chardonnay isn’t kosher, but there could be no better match for latkes. Bright and focused, it delivers creamy citrus edged in minerality and is full of the interesting and elegant textures that result from judicious treatment in oak. ($90–$100)

Davis Estates 2015 Petite Sirah Phase V

Another match for a brisket, this delicious small-production wine from Mike and Sandy Davis’s estate in Napa has a beautiful floral aroma and some spice, as well as dark figgy fruit on the palate. Decant it early to settle some of the tannins that also speak to its longevity. Celebrated wine whisperer Philippe Melka is the consulting winemaker for the exclusive Phase V series. ($105)

 

The Ultimate Office Party

These wines are a match for the world’s best appetizers, from cheese to caviar to foie gras.

Krug Grand Cuvée

Krug Grand Cuvée  Photo: Courtesy of Krug

Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne

The toasty, creamy, mouthfilling brioche flavors in this classic would be a terrific foil for all the puff-pastry bites an appetizer buffet can offer. Apple notes meld into nutty layers, with marzipan on the finish. ($200)

Château D’esclans 2017 Garrus Rosé Côtes De Provence

The pinnacle of pinks from the Provence producer who put serious rosé on the map, Garrus is a bar setter—powerful, with oak integrated into red fruit flavors brightened with lemon. ($100)

La Clarté De Haut-Brion 2014 Grand Vin De Graves Blanc

Steely minerality and delicate floral notes counterbalance each other on the nose of this lovely white Bordeaux, while honeyed citrus and a touch of fig lead into a rich, dry finish. ($100)

Goldeneye 2015 Ten Degrees Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

This Anderson Valley wine’s nose—alluring and earthy at the same time—unfolds with elegant florals over cranberry fruit, sandalwood, black tea, mushroom, and baking spice. A lushly powerful palate follows, with cherry and strawberry flavors, layers of spice, and hints of orange peel brightening the finish. ($125)

Denner Grenache

Denner Grenache  Photo: Courtesy of Denner Vineyards

Denner Vineyards 2016 Grenache Willow Creek District, Paso Robles

Beautiful aromas of florals and spice lifting brooding layers of crushed rock distinguish this dark Grenache. Vivid raspberry, strawberry, and cherry carry the palate, joined by mocha, violets, and riveting textures. ($70)

Vasse Felix Tom Cullity

Vasse Felix Tom Cullity  Photo: Courtesy of Vasse Felix

Vasse Felix 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Tom Cullity, Margaret River

Named for Vasse Felix founder Thomas Cullity, this blend (only the second vintage produced) strikes a perfect balance between savory herbs, pepper, and earth on one side, and lush, sweet plum and berry flavors with hints of violets on the other. ($165)

 

Christmas Dinner—You’re Hosting

Pour wines from legendary family producers and some knockouts with a standing rib roast.

Robert Mondavi Winery 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley

The winery might not be owned by the Mondavi family anymore, but the Reserve they launched back in the day from their legendary To Kalon Vineyard is to this day one of Napa’s consistent gems. Toast and sweet spices from oak play under the concentrated palate of dark fruit and elegant tannin structure that Oakville can deliver. ($175)

Corison Cabernet

Corison Cabernet  Photo: Courtesy of Corison

Corison 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard St. Helena, Napa Valley

Few Napa winemakers achieve the rare balance of concentration, depth, power, and finesse year after year that Cathy Corison does. And the Cab from her Kronos Vineyard sets the bar, with a dark core of fruit and firm structure belied by elegant florals and complex layers of spiced cassis waiting to unfold. ($185)

M. Chapoutier 2015 Le Méal Ermitage Rouge

This incredible Rhône red is made with 100 percent Syrah from one of the best parcels on the estate. Like an increasing number of top French producers, M. Chapoutier has farmed the land biodynamically and protected the fruit by picking at night when temperatures are cooler. A long maceration time lends suppleness to the wine despite its youth. This is one to enjoy now, but no one will complain if you tuck it away in the family cellar for a decade. Though once you open it, the velvety juice will go fast. The nose is so fragrant and intoxicating, everyone will clamor for a glass. ($380)

Trinchero Forte

Trinchero Forte  Photo: Courtesy of Trinchero

Trinchero Napa Valley 2013 Forte

This red Bordeaux blend is made from primarily Malbec grapes—as well as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and a splash of Merlot—all grown on the Trinchero family’s estate plots in some of the most prized vineyards in Napa Valley. This is a truly family-run operation, with several generations taking part in every step, making the wine perfect for a multigenerational evening. Vibrant, smooth, and elegant with dry tannins, this wine is redolent of rich, dark forest floor and cocoa, with cassis and dark plum on the palate. Herbal sage notes are complemented by tantalizing hints of pepper. ($70)

Domaine Du Pégau 2015 Cuvée Réservée Châteauneufdu-Pape

Here’s the classic soul of Châteauneuf—densely textured layers of black pepper, menthol, and earth under dusty berry and plum flavors that go on forever. ($75)

Gaja 2015 Barbaresco Costa Russi

This Nebbiolo from a winemaking legend of Italy’s Piedmont leads with aromatic crushed-herb aromas and strawberries over the region’s classic leather and pepper. Some time in a decanter softens rambunctious tannins and releases a bright core of cherry fruit. ($485)

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