Over the course of almost twenty years, I have been chronicling the narrative of the “ultimate holiday wines.” The question “Is there a best wine for Thanksgiving?” is one that I ask myself every year. Which wine is ideal with a latke? Is there a bottle that you absolutely must have in order to celebrate the New Year? And if there is, what is the reason for the rapid change from the previous year to this year?
It is important to make it known that a magnum is, without a doubt, the ideal bottle to drink while sitting around with family or making awkward conversation with strangers at holiday gatherings. Magnums, which feature a capacity of 1.5 litres and are twice as large as a conventional bottle, are an excellent way to convey the spirit of generosity and extravagance. Consequently, we made contact with a number of wine-shop buyers and restaurant wine directors located around the United States in order to ascertain which magnums priced at less than $75 are now in stock for this particular round.
As if taking a hint from the spirit of Beaujolais, which is a perennial go-to whenever temps drop below 70 degrees, there were some choices for upbeat, lighter-bodied reds, but they came from more remote locations. The wine that stands out the most is Roberto Henríquez’s Fundo La Unión Cinsault, which originates from the coastal area of Bío Bío in Chile. It was brought to our attention by Lily Peachin, who is the proprietor of Dandelion Wine in Brooklyn. “It is fresh and alive, and it will keep guests alert and happy for a long, heavy meal,” adds Peachin on the subject of the food. According to Peachin, “it’s a conversation starter, an interesting wine that many may not know about.” This is not to say that everyone needs a TED Talk on wine over the Christmas season; nonetheless, it is certainly something to consider. South America, and more specifically this region of the Itata Valley, where genuinely ancient vines (many of which are 100 years old and some of which are 200 years old) continue to survive, continues to be an underappreciated source of fascinating wines.
In the country of Chile, Henríquez is a prominent figure in the natural-wine movement. Prior to returning to his homeland, he had spent a few years working in other countries, specifically in the Loire region of France with René Mosse and in South Africa. During this time, he made the decision to collaborate with growers who had conserved ancient vineyards in Itata and the neighbouring Bío Bío. Additionally, he adopted biodynamic procedures in a region where they were not the standard. Over the course of more than a century, Cinsault has been cultivated in Itata, and when it is handled well, it can create wines that have a pronounced earthiness and a great punch of red fruit. It will cost you around sixty dollars to bring a magnum, but if you really want to make the people who are hosting and attending your Christmas party feel like they are being taken care of, you will bring a bottle that is 750 millilitres in capacity.
Skye LaTorre, who works at the Pluck wine bar in New Orleans, suggested the carignan-based La Mariole from Domaine Ledogar, which is located in the Corbières area of France. This wine adheres to the notion of being fruit-forward and having a lighter body. According to LaTorre, La Mariole is “a happy, low-maintenance wine” that features “plenty of personality to keep you fully intrigued and enough acid and versatility to play nice if and when you transition to dinner.” She defines La Mariole as having the ability to blend into a cocktail party just as well as a sit-down meal.
A few requests were made for wines that were produced in the Iberian Peninsula. For instance, Jordan Smelt, who works at Lucian Books and Wine in Atlanta, suggested that the 4 Monos Viticultores GR-10 Tinto be considered a “very handy [Beaujolais] alternative from just outside Madrid.” The wine is the result of a cooperation between four friends who operate in the interesting Gredos region. Gredos is a chiselled, rocky site with old-vine garnacha that has caught the attention of winemakers from all over the nation; in recent years, a number of these winemakers have acquired land or vines in the region. According to Smelt, when it comes to party wines, “this is what all crowd-pleasing party wines should be: fresh, vibrant, and easygoing with all types of food.”
Your decision to remain with the traditional Beaujolais will not be criticised by anyone. In addition, it is a region that is well-known for its producers who enjoy having a good time, which is possibly the reason why a significant amount of wine is bottled in magnum there. This year, Evelyn Goreshnik, who lives on Queen Street in Los Angeles, expressed her recommendation for Domaine Dupeuble, which is a well-known and reasonably priced wine that comes from a winery that is over 500 years old. According to Goreshnik, “It has notes of juicy red fruit, pepper, and is slightly earthy, and it does not overpower any dish that you are serving.” She suggests “snagging a few” magazines, which are priced at $42 each.
It is not necessary to use the terms “best” or “ultimate” to describe any of these wines; they are all simply tasty and friendly additions to the commotion that this time of year provides. You can’t go wrong with Henríquez’s Fundo La Unión, which is a magnum that comes with an unquestionable heritage of making it through (I mean, the vines have lasted longer than most of us will) and adding a little levity along the road. If you are forced to choose just one, you can’t go wrong with it.