A case of wine will save you (both time and money!) this holiday season, especially if you know where to look. We partnered with ALDI to share 5 reasons to stock up on wine ahead of time.
It’s a ritual of fall to stockpile ingredients and supplies—baking ingredients, chicken stock, gift wrap—that we’ll need during the year’s remaining weeks. As convenient as it is to have a pantry full of confectioner’s sugar and tissue paper, there’s one thing you can buy that will save you more time, money, and agita than anything else: A case of wine. If you know where to look, it can run you just $100 or so—without settling for the cheap-tasting stuff—and can save your sanity through the New Year.
What ingredient does coq au vin, beef Burgundy, fondue, and French onion soup all have in common? Vino. With staples like wine, cheese, and inexpensive cuts of meat on hand, you’re halfway to a comforting, wintry dinner. The most versatile reds for soups, stews and braises are fruit forward and aren't too tannic or oaky. Grenache-based wines from Spain or France’s Côtes du Rhône are workhorses in the kitchen, and crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are just right for cheese fondue and cream-based sauces. (The best part, of course, is enjoying the remainder of the bottle with dinner.)
Served alongside a simple pasta or roast chicken, the addition of wine equals instant dinner party. When you have a small stash of carefully chosen bottles, pulling off on-the-fly food pairings is a breeze. For wine newbies, “Cabernet Sauvignon with meat, Chardonnay with fish” is a start, but this oversimplified rule doesn’t always yield the right matches.
It’s also important to factor in your entrée’s sauce and region of origin. Chardonnay (or a Rhône white such as Viognier or Marsanne) would be terrific with a chicken in cream sauce, but chicken with a hearty tomato-based topping would fare better with Merlot or Syrah.
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Another tip: Serve regional cuisine with wine from that same region. Your Nonna’s lasagna is always going to taste better with Chianti or Montepulciano than with Kabinett Riesling or Burgundy.
Worried that your parents and your spouse’s work friends will have zero to talk about at your holiday party? Serve your wines blind—here’s how to do it: Cut the capsules off the necks of at least three bottles of wine, and obscure the labels (some people put the wine bottles in brown paper bags, but we find that wrapping the bottles in aluminum foil or gift wrap is less clumsy). Number the bottles using gift tags or permanent marker.
If your guests aren't so wine savvy, choose three or four different expressions of a single grape variety. Pinot Noir is a good choice because it is a versatile food pairing—so, select Pinots from different producers and regions, and encourage guests to pour small tastes of each and discuss which bottle they like best. If you’re inviting a bunch of wine geeks over, choose different grape varieties, like reds, whites, even rosés, and make a game of seeing who can guess the most wines correctly.
When your holiday party guest list is long but you’re short on funds, toast your friends’ health with a wine-based punch. Pulling off a terrific punch doesn’t require a particular recipe—just follow these suggestions and ratios and come up with your own favorite combinations.
Bonus: Serving wine punch will give you a good excuse to bust out your parents’ heirloom punchbowl, and use up those half-empty bottles of liquor on your bar.
Our best reason to buy lots of wine this month? It’s a please-everyone gift. Stock your gift closet with wine and you can reciprocate like a boss this holiday season. Office Secret Santa party? Check. Neighbor who shows up on your doorstep with a gift candle that smells like a Christmas tree? Check. A gift your kid’s teacher will appreciate more than another coffee mug? Check.
Keep tissue paper and wine bottle-sized gift bags in the closet too (or better yet, have a couple of bottles bagged, tagged, and ready to go). If you know that your intended recipient adores Malbec, indulge them. Otherwise, put a smile on your face and a bow on a bottle of Prosecco or Cava because really, there’s no better wine pairing in the world than a bottle of bubbly and a gift recipient who’s grateful that the bubbly isn’t fruitcake.
What're you buying by the case this holiday? Tell us in the comments below!