Food & Drink: Best Holiday Dinner Wines for Any Budget

We asked The Resort at Port Ludlow‘s sommelier Anne Sackett—known for hosting highly-informed wine dinners at the inn—to step out of her award-wining cellar and offer her best holiday wine suggestions, for two different budgets. Choose the less expensive version when you’re inviting 25 friends or relatives, and the focus is on warmth, family, and having lots and lots of good drink. The second, fantasy-baseball version is for when you’ve got a small gathering, a large windfall, or a “Hey, you only live once!” attitude for the 2014 holiday season.

Anne Sackett, Sommelier at the Resort at Port Ludlow on Washington's Olypmpic Peninsula
Anne Sackett, Sommelier at The Resort at Port Ludlow on Washington’s Olypmpic Peninsula

What do you serve when your friends walk in the door to get them in the holiday mood? Prosecco? Champagne? Or not wine at all – start with a cocktail?
This is how we start our family gatherings : we get the Zonin Prosecco and put fresh-squeezed orange juice in it and we have mimosas all the time!

Money is no object
I was just invited to a Lafite Rothschild luncheon over at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle and it was an amazing luncheon and we got to meet some of the wine makers . They’re doing some things in Argentina now too as well as in France we got to try the Lafite Rothschild Blanc de Blancs … and I loved it. I love Cristal, and I know why they charge so much for it, but this Lafite Rothschild Blanc de Blancs was beautiful. I would definitely choose that.

What on earth pairs with turkey?
Definitely dry Riesling. Especially with all of the little accoutrements that come with turkey, so you need something that has some fruit with it, but I don’t like sweet wine and most of my friends don’t either. Dry Rieslings have that lemon peel oiliness, you know, that kind of goes with that with a little bit of sweetness, but they are not sweet at all. I have one that I really like from Germany: Schloss Schonborn‘s 2009 Dry Riesling,

Money is no object
I just found a Riesling that’s wonderful because it’s from the first world viticultural area: they take grapes from Oregon and grapes from Germany and they blend it together. Germany is so freaky about their wine laws that they will not allow it to be called a Riesling. They say ‘you can call it a dry white wine’. It’s Teutonic & Immich-Anker, 2012 The Bridge. I think it’s a perfect wine for Thanksgiving because  it reflects the true spirit of the holiday: when two different peoples come together to make a beautiful dinner, or in this case a beautiful wine.

The Olympic Peninsula is wild, spectacularly beautiful, and, to those in the know, a major food and wine destination
The Olympic Peninsula is wild, spectacularly beautiful, and, to those in the know, a major food and wine destination

Does the same thing work for other traditional Christmas birds, goose and duck?
Definitely not! Goose and duck have more fat content to them so they need something more substantial. I would have red with both goose and duck. With goose, I would go with pinot noir.

One of my favorite new pinots is Brittan Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir, Gestalt Block, from McMinnville,Oregon and it is just delicious. And with duck, I would go with something a little bit slicker and a little bit darker. So I’d go Gamay Noir. There’s a nice, inexpensive one from Canada called Blue Mountain.

Money is no object
For goose, I would definitely go with Henri Boillot 2011 Pommard, a Pinot Noir from Meursault, France. For duck, there’s an organic wine I love from from Oregon: Brick House Gamay Noir. It would be beautiful with duck, especially with a little cherry sauce on it.

And if it’s prime rib of beef with horseradish sauce and Yorkshire pudding – what stands up to that?
Reininger 2006 Syrah, Ash Hollow Vineyard was the star of the show at Best of the Northwest Tasting, everyone I went with said,  ‘Oh my gosh, this tasted to good!’ I have their 2007, which is amazing.  It’s really super dark and just delicious.

Money is no object
The Damilano, 2008 Cannubi Barolo.  Nebbiolo is so fragrant, it smells like violets. I don’t know why they don’t make perfume out of it. It’s dark and delicious with lots of spice and layers and layers of flavor.

This year, the cellar won a Washington State Wine Commission Grand Award and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
This year, the cellar won a Washington State Wine Commission Grand Award and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence

Back in the kitchen – you’re finishing sauces, hauling a massive roast out of the oven, and getting all the little white bits off of your pomegranate seeds, all through clouds of steam, not helping your festive hairdo. You need help staying in the holiday spirit. What’s your favorite wine to cook to? 

I love Picot Maccario Barbera. It’s smooth, it’s got spice to it, it’s got vanilla, it’s got cherry. It’s just really easy to drink.

Throw the budget out the window – this is a survival issue…
Montes 2010 Purple Angel from Chile. It’s mostly Carménère with a little bit Petit Verdot. It’s like ink. It’s almost black in your glass. I love the silkiness in the mouth.

Dessert! Traditional English pudding, pumpkin pie, chocolate pots de crème – dessert wine? Port?
For pumpkin or apple pie, I just found this amazing sweet Vermouth from Spain and it’s got like 18 botanicals in it and tastes like vanilla and cinnamon: Yzaguirre Rojo Reserva, sweet Vermouth.  Most people are like, ‘Oh, Vermouth, yeah, you make Manhattans with that’, then I give them a little taste of and they always go, “WOW!”

Chocolate pots de crème: we’d definitely have to go Port. I have a favorite little Port, Quinta Noval Black.

Money is no object
Royal Oporto 40 Year Tawny. It comes in a beautiful crystal bottle.

What do you serve for the post-feast lounging around the living room time, finishing the holiday puzzle?
Money or no money, I make the Hot Butter Rum mix here. I use Madagascar vanilla beans  with delicious, organic everything.

What else do want the world to know about wine with holiday meals?
Wine doesn’t have to be stuffy. Whatever you like is what’s going to go with what you’re eating. There’s a scientific reaction in your mouth with food and wine, so in the end, it’s really what you like.

Parting words before we open the wine?
We have a wonderful program at the Resort at Port Ludlow!  I get to do wine tastings every month, and wine dinners. On my days off, I go to wine tastings for buyers in Seattle.  And I have a wonderful crew here too. I’m really really happy here.

Wine dinners at The Resort at Port Ludlow
Wine dinners at The Resort at Port Ludlow. Cheers.

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