Wine-Derful Recommendations from Local Shops

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Durham wine experts share their top tips for choosing a bottle this holiday season

By Matthew Lardie | Photography by John Michael Simpson

‘Tis the season for gathering, and with all the holiday parties and get-togethers to both host and attend, figuring out what to drink (or bring as a host/hostess gift) can get a little overwhelming. Well, breathe easy, because we reached out to a handful of the Bull City’s best wine shops for their expert recommendations. Whether you’re looking for a white, a red, or a bottle of bubbles to pop, they’ve got you covered.

“Champagne is synonymous with celebration and is a classic option for the holiday season in and of itself,” says The Wine Feed’s Kayla Eakin, “but Diebolt-Vallois’ Blanc de Blancs is an especially fantastic bottle that punches far above its price point.” Whether toasting the end of the year or the beginning of the new one, a glass of bubbles is pretty much a prerequisite. At $51, it’s far more affordable than some of the well-known Champagne houses, but delivers the same creamy, luscious notes. This bottle would make an excellent gift, but let’s be honest – you deserve to treat yourself.

Want to be a little fancy for the holidays without breaking the bank? Cam Davis at LouElla Wine, Beer and Beverages has the bottle for you. He recommends the Cave des Vins de Bourgueil 2020 Lieu-dit Beauregard. The name might be a mouthful, but the price certainly isn’t hard to swallow. “In a world of ever-increasing prices, it is getting harder to find this kind of quality Loire Valley cabernet franc under $20.” Cam says. With rich notes of red currant, this bottle rings in at $18.99 and will pair beautifully with turkey, holiday ham and everything in between.

South Durhamites have depended on Hope Valley Wine & Beverage’s Drew Lazarus to recommend the perfect bottle for years. This holiday season, he’s pointing his customers toward a gorgeous Tuscan wine called “Gertrude” from La Maialina winery. Don’t let the old lady name fool you – this blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is no musty throwback. “This is our bestselling Italian wine, but even more, it is our bestselling red wine and, just to put a cherry on top, it is also the bestselling wine in our store, period,” Drew explains. Gertude pairs well with pastas, meat dishes, roasted root vegetables and more. At just $15.99 a bottle, it punches well above its class, offering the experience of a “Baby Super Tuscan” – a lighter version of a Super Tuscan – at a fraction of the price point.

The colder weather conjures images of hearty glasses of red wine, but what to serve for the white wine drinkers? Craig Heffley at Wine Authorities suggests setting your sights on Spain – more specifically a bottle of 100% godello, a stunning white wine from the northwestern Galicia region. The area borders the Atlantic ocean, and its wines pair perfectly with seafood. If your celebration involves a few dozen oysters on the half shell, then this is the wine you want. With the structure of a more expensive Burgundian white and a crisp minerality that really hits the spot, Craig insists that this bottle from winemaker Bodegas Pazo das Tapias “really overdelivers in every way.” The $11.99 sticker makes this ideal for a host/hostess gift or just everyday drinking.

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