Alois Lageder, right, and his son, Alois Clemens Lageder, would love to be at your holiday party. (Courtesy koelner-weinkeller.de)
How many parties will you be hosting between now and January 1? One? Two? Four? Whatever the number, food and drink are essentials, along with a great soundtrack and the perfect guest list. Don’t stack up the lawyers and petroleum engineers while neglecting your artist and teacher friends, for example. Who wants to talk about fracking and tort reform all night?
I’m here to help you with your holiday wine selections, and today we’ll focus on your white party wine. In making any selection, I’ve followed a few guidelines based on past requests from friends and colleagues who sought out my counsel when planning their festivities. First, they wanted a wine that was affordable for their 75 to 100-person guest list. Second, they wanted a wine that would pair with a variety of foods, from vegetable and charcuterie trays to smoked fish dip and cheeses. Third, they asked for something a bit off their beaten path.
This year, I am urging them to offer their guests the 2016 Cantina Riff Pinot Grigio, an excellent wine for the price — you can find it for around $10. In addition, it’s from a quality producer, Alois Lageder, a legend in northern Italy. “Riff” is German for “reef,” a reference to the limestone rock found in the Dolomites, the area from which some of the grapes here hail (in addition to the Veneto and Friuli). In short, this Pinot Grigio will appeal to, I state with confidence, everyone at your party, even the guy who loves oak-aged Chardonnay.
Here’s what you get: A wine full of fruit — think Granny Smith apples and off-sweet peaches — with a crisp and dry mouthfeel and a finish that will leave them fully satisfied. Serving sautéed shrimp? This will pair well. Pasta salad with olives and prosciutto? Check. Smoked salmon and oysters? Yes. I’m telling you, this wine is going to be a hit.
Fermentation took place in stainless steel, and the wine was left on the lees for about four months. It drinks far above its price point, and besides, your guests won’t care what you paid for it, because they’ll be too busy noting your good taste.
Look to this space soon for my red and sparkling recommendations, and prepare for some wonderful holiday evenings with friends and family.
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