The 7 best wines to serve at your holiday feast

All the bottles you’ll want to pop over the night, from the appetisers through dessert

As the rush of the holiday season reaches its climax, it’s a pleasure to sit down and enjoy a long, relaxing holiday meal. Sharing some of your best bottles alongside a home cooked dinner is one of the best gifts you can give family and friends. Everyone loves bubbles, and a special bottle of vintage Champagne is a great way to start the festivities off on a bright note. We all know that red wines are the perfect antidote to winter’s chill, so whether you’re pouring Cabernet Sauvignon or more under-the-radar varieties like Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, or Shiraz, be sure to have plenty on hand to keep your guests happy. When cheese and dessert come around you can continue to keep spirits buoyed with a memorable Aussie Port-style wine that is sure to be a palate pleaser.

Moët & Chandon Champagne 2015 Grand Vintage Champagne France

The Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne
Photo by Moët & Chandon

Grand Vintage 2015 represents the 76th grand vintage from the house of Moët & Chandon. The spring of 2015 started off with extreme cold followed by bright sunshine and heat from May to August with the month of August 2015 recorded as the warmest since 1961. Harvest began on September 7 and lasted for 21 days with good yields of quality grapes. This delightful Champagne is lemon yellow coloured in the glass with very fine bubbles. Featuring aromas of freshly baked bread, white flowers, and toasted almonds, it is vivacious and lively on the palate with tastes of yuzu, honeysuckle blossom, fennel frond, and a touch of almond in the crisp, clean finish.

Lamborn Family Vineyards 2020 Carnation Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Barbara California

The 2020 Carnation Carbenet Sauvignon Santa Barbara California by Lamborn Family Vineyards
Photo by Lamborn Family Vineyards

Winemaker Heid Barrett and the Lamborn family have done it again with this stunning Cabernet Sauvignon from the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara where cool spring and mild summer temperatures allowed for a long and leisurely growing season. The relatively short harvest of 2020 wrapped up one of the best growing seasons on record in Santa Barbara County. This enticing wine is a blend of 95 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with 5 per cent Petite Sirah added and is ruby garnet in the glass, with aromas of cassis, cranberry, and blackberry and flavours of ripe black fruits, dark chocolate, and brown baking spices. Only 467 cases were produced so buy to drink now or hold for a few years, you will be happy either way.

Best’s Great Western 2019 Thomson Family Shiraz Great Western Victoria Australia

Bottle of Shiraz Great Western Victoria Australia
Photo by Best’s Wines

This delightful wine, produced exclusively in exceptional years, is made from Shiraz vines planted by Henry Best in 1868. The Thomson family settled in Victoria in 1882 and began making this particular bottling in 1992. The grapes are hand harvested and fermented in small open tanks with manual (not automated) punch downs. Our Australian wine colleagues rate this wine highly and turned us onto it a few years ago. It is inky purple-red in the glass with aromas of black plum, cassis, rosehips, and roasted hazelnuts. Medium bodied on the palate, it has flavours of black raspberry, black plum, and a touch of dried tobacco leaf.

Rowen Wine Company 600 L 2018 Sonoma County California

Bottle of Rowen Wine Company Sonoma Country California
Photo by Rowen Wine Company

600 L is named for the six-hundred-litre barrel used to ferment some of the best quality grapes from the 20,000 acre Cooley Ranch in western Sonoma County. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld selects the grapes by hand and then ferments them with no pumping and no chemicals. The 2018 vintage, composed of 92 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 8 per cent Petit Verdot, is aged for 24 months in 100 per cent new French oak barrels. This delicious wine is garnet coloured in the glass with aromas of vanilla, anise, and black currant. It has nice heft on the palate with flavours of ripe red and black fruits, brown baking spice, and mocha that coalesce in a long, long finish.

Araucano 2016 Alka Carmenere Apalta Colchagua Valley Chile

Bottle of Araucano 2016
Photo by Araucano

Many winemakers use Carmenere only as a blending grape so when we find a 100 per cent well-made, single-variety version we get a bit excited. This tasty wine is made from grapes grown in granitic and alluvial soils on high terraces above the Tinguiririca River in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. After initial fermentation the wine is allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation in barrels and is then aged on the lees for three months which gives it a voluptuous mouthfeel. The bouquet offers aromas of cassis, black raspberry, freshly ground black pepper and a lifted note of mint. It has bold, pleasantly grippy tannins with flavours of black plum, black currant, and brown baking spices.

Daou 2019 Patrimony Cabernet Franc

Daou 2019 Patrimony Cabernet
Photo by Daou

Visitors to Daou Mountain in Paso Robles can sign up for an immersion Patrimony experience that begins in the vineyard in which the grapes are grown. A tour of the winery and barrel tasting follow before sitting down for a food and wine pairing. Made with 100 per cent Cabernet Franc, Patrimony 2019 has aromas of blueberry, black raspberry, forest floor, tobacco leaf, and black plum. It is soft on entry with flavours of ripe black fruits, cranberry, pomegranate, dried herbs, wet river rock, and a touch of pencil lead in the juicy finish.

Seppeltsfield 2001 21-Year-Old Para Tawny Barossa Valley Australia

Bottle of Seppeltsfield 2001
Photo by Seppetlsfield

It’s always nice to finish your holiday meal with a sweet wine such as a Sherry or Port, and while sweet wines from Australia are sometimes called “Port” in error, we still think they’re well-made and worthy to grace your holiday table. Seppeltsfield has been making excellent wines in Australia’s Barossa Valley since 1851 and this 21-year-old tawny style wine is no exception. It is made from Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre and has aromas of toasted almonds, baked apricots, and vanilla wafer cookies. Medium bodied on the palate, it has nice (but not cloying) sweetness and flavours of caramelised chestnuts, almond praline, English toffee, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Only 650 cases were produced.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA