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In the Spirit: I’ll Bring the Wine!

I have been in the beverage industry for nearly 20 years.

My family and friends know my passion, and often ask for my advice. I am also the one who brings the wine for the holiday supper, sharing it with a wide range of wine drinkers.  There are some wines I save for intimate family dinners to spoil my father and brothers with, however most of the time my bottle(s) selected are less intimidating, more versatile and just plain fun to share.

The wines I would buy myself if I had the option would be the $30-$50 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino and Premier Cru Chablis but especially in these times my wallet doesn’t agree with those decisions.  Thankfully, there are plenty of wines around $15 per bottle that I can bring to a party, share and enjoy with others while secretly expanding their wine base by educating on new areas and making wine label terms less intimidating.   After all, I am a nerd who loves to teach and most of my excitement of bringing wines comes at moments, like when I taught my pinot noir loving cousin about nerello mascalese.

I am pretty sure I could fill this entire page up with the fun unique wines I have come across…

I am pretty sure I could fill this entire page up with the fun unique wines I have come across that I have wanted to or have shared with my loved ones, though I don’t believe any of us have that time. If I did, I would start by mentioning vermentino or Soave/garganega (tart whites from Italy), South American chenin blanc (a medium body white with tart apple flavors), and the aforementioned nerello mascalese. 

This red grape is found on Mt Etna in Italy with what I can best describe as an earthy intensified pinot noir. The wine is harder to find but so good!  Tornatore and Alta Mora are the producers which make the best renditions but may only be found when traveling out of the region as I was not able to find them in West Virginia stores.

With my life spent between the Northeast and West Virginia…

With my life spent between the Northeast and West Virginia many of the ones found up in New England are not as easily found in this area.  Luckily, my go-to favorite for bringing to any event is readily available locally.  All you need to remember is Côtes Du Rhone.

The name to remember is Famille Perrin.

Côtes du Rhone is a region in Southern Rhone producing reds, whites and roses from any combination of several grapes from the well known syrah and viognier to the nearly unknown grapes of mataro and bourboulenc. These wines are easy to find, easy to drink and just as easy to pair for any holiday meal including your Thanksgiving turkey (or tofurkey) or feast of the seven fishes.  The name to remember is Famille Perrin.

The Perrin has been producing wine since the early 1900s and is now on its fifth generation in the industry. Their products cover a broad range of price levels with wines produced under the names Beaucastel, Miraval and La Vieille Ferme as well as the namesake label under the family umbrella. The group of wines is owned by a great family, Perrin, and represented in the states by a great import company, Vineyard Brands.

The most common Perrin family label found on the market in West Virginia…

The most common Perrin family label found on the market in West Virginia is Famille Perrin Reserve producing reds, whites and roses.  The white produced is a blend of grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne and viognier.  It is crisp with moderate acidity and medium body with floral and orchard fruit flavors. It pairs well with a wide variety of seafood and white meats and is very friendly for any white drinker.

The rose is a blend of cinsault, grenache, mourvedre and syrah with flavors of strawberry, watermelon and tart raspberry.  If you have never had a dry rose with turkey dinner you are doing yourself a disservice.  The red is the classic blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre. These grapes are the original red blend in the United States market with Australia popularizing the blended trio and marketing it as GSM.  Flavors of black and red berries highlight the soft tannins and balanced acidity of the wine.

This year, offer to bring the wine

This year instead of offering to bring the obligatory bag of chips or cheese and crackers, step up to the plate and offer to bring the wine. You will not only become the star of the party but maybe you will be able to provide a family member with their new favorite wine.  As mentioned, you can not go wrong with bringing a Perrin, or nearly any locally sold Côtes du Rhone.  If you find yourself in a wine shop or planning what to purchase beforehand and are afraid to pull the trigger on a bottle, ask the team that works there or send me a note on facebook @winescapeswmass. I am always happy to help put you in the right direction!

– Ginger LaSalle, Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper. December 2020. Follow Ginger at Winescapes Consulting and Education. She is a beverage consultant and trainer. Shaping beverage programs across Western Mass.

Also read: In the Spirit “Wine Life” by Ginger LaSalle.

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