With one hour to kill until my 4PM happy hour meeting yesterday, (yes, it’s early; no, don’t judge me) I walked into a Starbucks on 54th and Broadway, opened my laptop, and began typing away. While sipping on my non-pumpkin spice flavored coffee, I realized that the sounds of Michael Buble’s Christmas album were serenading me in the background. Though I wasn’t entirely dismayed by the jingling sounds of holiday cheer as background noise, I did think to myself that it seemed a little early for such a soundtrack– and then I looked at my calendar, and the jaw-dropping realization came upon me. 15 days until Black Friday. Oh. Shit. Cue panic-inducing stress about gift-buying, card-writing, and most of all, the copious amounts of money to be spent on God knows what.
In addition, it got me thinking about how consumers, more than ever, are on the prowl for deals at this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas presents for the family, holiday cookie ingredients, or even wine, shoppers seek to find the best bang for their buck in November and December– which is why the idea for this blog post came to mind. In a world where we’re constantly looking for the next best deal, wine included, quality should never, ever be sacrificed. I got to thinking, which are the best ‘Black Friday’ wine regions in the world?– AKA– which appellations are going to give you the best quality to price ratio, especially during the time of year where wine is purchased and consumed the most. Behold, my solution to five ‘Black Friday’ regions of wine, below. Your wallet (and palate) will thank you. Happy sipping!
Loire Valley, France
Anyone who knows me knows that I will sing the praises of the Loire Valley all the day long. I personally find the Loire Valley to be the best quality to price ratio for wine in the entire world. (Yes, I said it.) Like any region, of course, there are going to be some big name producers who’ll cost you a pretty penny, but for the most part, $15 – $20 goes a long, long way in your Loire Valley wine section. From crisp, clean Chenin Blanc to spicy, peppery Cab Franc, as well as mineral-driven SBs and earthy Pinot Noirs, there’s really something for everybody in this versatile region. (And don’t forget the Muscadet with your holiday seafood towers.) For natural wine lovers, this region is your mecca.
Rioja and Ribera tend to get all the love when it comes to Spanish reds, but I’d *generally* choose an earthy, floral-driven Mencia any day of the week– especially around this time of year. Mencias tend to be way less in-your-face than there Tempranillo-dominant counterparts and pair gorgeously with an array of Thanksgiving Day dishes. For high-acid white lovers (Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, I’m looking at you…) grab an Albarino from Rias Baixas for a nice game-changer.
I know, I know, I know, I know– literally every single industry person is rolling their eyes at me right now, but COME ON. There’s a reason why nearly every reputable wine list, retail store, and cellar have a slew of cru Beaujolais in them. These Gamay-based wines are insanely easy to drink; bright, red fruit, earth-driven soil notes, and zippy acidity keep these wines light on their feet, whether food is served alongside them or not. Versatile with meat (like turkey…) and vegetables, yet light enough to drink on their own. And to reiterate, we’re talking cru Beaujolais (from one of the region’s ten appellations), NOT Beaujolais Nouveau. Slap a slight chill on the bottle for ultimate sipping pleasure.
South Australia, Australia
For New World wine lovers, South Australia is one of your best bets. From Barossa’s powerful Shiraz and GSM blends, to McLaren Vale’s array of international varieties, to Clare Valley’s crisp, high-acid Rieslings, some of the wine world’s best kept secrets are tucked away down under, specifically in South Australia’s insane array of microclimates and terroirs.
Last weekend, a few friends and I went to a big Sherry tasting at the Astor Center and I was instantly reminded of my love for Spanish fortified wines. From bone-dry, saline tinged Manzanillas, all the way to thickly sweet Olorosos, there’s a place for Sherry during every portion of a meal. My newly re-discovered love for Amontillado Sherry hasn’t left my thoughts over the last two weeks, either. For those new to Sherry, Amontillado is the perfect balance between the other two types listed above; nutty, oxidized, and just all around warming– will make you want to curl up next to a fire more than any PSL possibly could. Skip the pricey Sauternes and explore the vast world of Sherry during your dessert courses this holiday season.