Top Red Wines For The Holidays!

The Holidays keep coming, and this time of year can get busy. Between all of the potlucks, parties, office gatherings, and gift giving, picking a good selection of wines for everyone on your list can get a bit overwhelming. When it comes to reds, I find that many aren’t sure what to buy as a gift, gesture, or “have on hand” wine, and the truth is… you should buy and drink what you love! Whether you’re hosting the party, attending, or gift giving, there is a red wine on this list for every occasion, at every price point, and one I am sure you will really enjoy.

$15-20.00

 2014 Ontañoñ Crianza, Rioja: Complex and powerful, this wine is a steal under $20.00 for the holiday season. The subtle fruit and mineral driven notes in the wine will surely delight many red wine loving palates, and it pairs beautifully with game meats, stews, and roasted vegetarian dishes. $17.99

2015 Thirsty Owl Pinot Noir: A fun wine from the Finger Lakes! Bright notes of strawberry and red currants, followed by oak and earthiness make this wine very attractive. New Yorkers, this makes a fun gift for the ones you love who live out of town. Surprise them with a unique NY wine at an unbeatable price. $17.95

2014 Bodegas Salentein Killka Malbec: A place of beauty and culture in Argentina, Bodegas Salentein planned Killka to be a place of nature and art inspiration. This malbec is intense purple in color with fruity aromas, mild tannins, and a lingering finish. Malbec is a great wine choice for holiday entertaining, because it’s easily enjoyed by many red wine lovers and also takes well to oak. $16.99

2014 Bodegas Salentein Cabernet Reserve: This cab is intense ruby red in color with notes of black pepper and currants. The palate is elegant with fine tannins and a long finish, making it perfect as a host/hostess gift, stocking stuffer, or holiday potluck wine pairing! $19.99

$20-45.00

2014 Millbrook Winery Cabernet Franc: A Hudson County, NY winery! Millbrook Winery won my heart this past summer with their Cabernet Franc and it had to make my top reds for the holiday’s list! Aromas of red berry, ripe fruit, and black raspberry bring out the rich flavors of plum and red berries on the palate with a soft tannins and a lush, ripe finish. $20.

2014 Alta Mora Etna Rosso: Made from the Nerello Mascalese grape, this wine is grown on the side of the active volcano, Mt. Etna. Sicilian wines make wonderful unique gifts and this one has enticing notes of wild berry, baking spice, and herb. The grapes are handpicked and pressed lightly, creating long lasting elegance and balance in the wine. $24.99

2014 Ricossa Barbera Appassimento: Another unique wine from Italy where the winery utilizes the appassimento process, which is the basic grape-drying process used forever throughout Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The difference is that Ricossa used barbera grapes instead of corvina, resulting in it being one of the first wines in Piedmont, Italy to use this method. This wine is ruby red with soft aromas of red fruit, dried herbs, and floral notes. This wine has unique structure with a long lasting finish. $24.99

The Federalist Dueling PistolsOn July 11, 1804 off the Hudson shore at Weehawken, the original Federalist, Alexander Hamilton was shot in a duel by Aaron Burr and died from his injuries. This wine from the Dry Creek Valley is full of bright cherry aromas, spice, and lively acidity. This wine is 50% Zinfandel and 50% Syrah from Sonoma County in California and is a great gift for the history buff in your life. $29.

2012 Chateau Lassègue Les Cadrans de Lassègue: This wine is aged in new French oak for 6-8 months and is primarily a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. On the palate it is refined and elegant with a beautiful expression of fruit and silky tannins. $29-35.

2013 Waltz Cherry Tree Merlot: My favorite winery in Lancaster, PA is Waltz Vineyards. I fell in love during my visit over the summer and this oaky cherry tree merlot was one wine that won my heart. Deep garnet color with layers of earthiness, currants, and chocolate, this wine is unique and quite the conversation piece when having guests over. Those from PA, this makes a great gift to out of towner’s too! $36.

2012 Mercer Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon:  This beautiful cabernet is from the Horse Haven Hills area in Washington. Aromas of ripe cherry, coffee, and cocoa make it pleasant and complex with round tannins, fresh acidity, and a long finish. This wine is great to have on the table for a Christmas dinner as well as give as a gift, because it’s drink-able now but can also age a bit longer. I find many of the reds from the Mercer Reserve collection are simply seductive! $42. Ps. The Syrah is also a great choice!

(PRNewsFoto/Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards)

2014 “Clarke Vineyard” Syrah: Only 912 cases produced of this wine by Clarke, Baker & Losey Vineyards. Made from 99% Syrah and 1% Viognier, this wine spent 10 months in oak barrels and is full of raspberry, chocolate, and smoke. Beautiful to bring out during the holiday season, but also special to save for a later celebration dinner, this wine is a wonderful buy at $42.

2014 Owsley Single Block Pinot Noir: This Sonoma Cutrer Winemaker’s release from the Russian River Valley consists of hand picked grapes and is a true expression of the terroir and fruit from this vintage. Aromas of dark fruit, forest floor, chocolate and black tea attractively awaken your senses, while the earth and fruit round out your palate and introduce you to velvety tannins and a long finish. This wine makes a great gift for a seasoned or new wine collector as only 1,000 bottles were made. $49.99

$45-50.00 (+)          

Hess Collection 2014 “The Lion Tamer”: The nickname comes from the Malbec smoothing out and taming the big California wines. This red blend is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah, and when blended with the Malbec, it’s smooth and has very “tamed” tannins. $45.

2011 Santa Cecilia Noto DOC: A wine made from 100% Nero d’Avola from Planeta Winery. This wine is vibrant and purple with striking plum notes, pepper and figs. On the palate it is elegant, tasty, and mineral driven. 11′ was a great vintage in Sicily, and this wine is great when paired with Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinners. $45.          

2013 Trefethen Pinot Noir: A well known family vineyard makes a great gift during the holiday season. This vintage was warm in Napa Valley, but a beautiful growing season, which resulted in this beautiful Pinot Noir. On the nose this wine boasts dark berries, cedar, and earth, while on the palate toasted oak, currants, and attractive notes of mushroom and spice take over. $45.

2013 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon: This famous winery in Napa Valley, CA is always a crowd pleaser. Widely well known with a nose of blackberry jam, this big cabernet is deceptively soft upfront with ripe raspberry and strawberry notes. The tannins and acidity come into play towards the end, with a smooth seductive finish. This wine is a great gift for those who have to win over new in-laws, bosses, and California wine lovers. $58.

2014 Ravenswood Old Hill Zinfandel: This wine is reserved yet assertive and full of black fruit, texture, and dried flowers. The finish is long and enjoyable, and makes a great gift for someone special who appreciates a wine that can age; however it can certainly be consumed now, and is delicious paired with a holiday prime rib or rack of lamb! $60.

Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec: Deep purple with rich aromas of plums, berries, tobacco and vanilla. The Salentein red wines are seductive and powerful, full of elegance and character. This wine makes an excellent gift for those who really enjoy a powerful red with a lot of body, flavor, and smooth spice. $60.

2012 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: Beautiful and deep dark purple with ruby tones. This wine is elegant with notes of bright, fruit and oak with a supple mouthfeel that can be consumed now, however can also be aged for another 10-15 years, making it a great “for a later celebration date” gift. $65.

2012 Tommasi Amarone: Produced from the Valpolicella grape varieties (Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone, Molinara and Oseleta), which are cultivated on high hillside terraces. This wine is aged three years before bottling, and is best served during special occasions; hint, hint- Christmas or NYE! This wine pairs beautifully with game meats, cheeses, and great company! $80.00

Red wines are an important part of the holidays! Wine brings people together and many reds, especially the ones on this list make great gifts as well as pair with many foods. The beauty of every bottle on this list, is that they all can age too!

Sara Lehman

About Sara Lehman

Sommelier, Private Chef, & Food and Wine Pairing Expert in NYC! Sara is a Wine Writer, Wine Ambassador, and Wine Consultant specializing in pairings, parties, entertaining and education.

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