For this People’s Palate Weekly Wine Recommendations, I feature two types of wine that are ideal choices for holiday meals and festivities.


The white is a Vinho Verde from the region of the same name in northwestern Portugal. Vinho Verde translates to “green wine” and for good reason. The cool, wet climate and granite soils here present growers a challenge to harvest ripe grapes. Those that do produce a pleasantly aromatic, light bodied wine that is high in acid, (sometimes with a bit of fizz on the tongue), and brisk apple and citrus fruit, occasionally accented with mineral or savory elements. Low in alcohol, they are perfect as an aperitif and with lighter dishes.


There are about half a dozen key grapes used in varying proportions and many of the finished wines are bottled nonvintage – blended from more than one harvest. Arguably alvarinho is the finest of these. Actually, alvarinho is the Portuguese name for the albarino grape grown in nearby Galicia across the border in Spain.  Compared to other Vinho Verde, it yields a more fragrant, full-bodied, wine that is higher in alcohol and can reveal quite a bit of richness and character.


This certainly proved the case with this week’s selection – the 2011 Vera Alvarinho Vinho Verde ($16). The Vera is 100% alvarihno from vineyards in a warmer, drier area. There is a slight tingle on the tongue, followed by rich flavors of ripe apple, lemon and lime. This depth of fruit is balanced with bright acidity and the wine finishes with spice notes. Enticing now, this is a wine with enough character to age and for a few years.



I actually have another fun VV choice for you – the Broadbent Vinho Verde ($10). This delightfulwine (at a great price) opens with the impression of a light sparkling wine and that is confirmed in the mouth with fairly significant spritz. A touch of fresh green apple and a clean finish makes this a great quaffer. This is a nonvintage wine, so look on the back label for the “Seal of Guarantee” (Selo de Garantia) and the “/2011” notation.


My red wine choice this week is Beaujolais. My first offering is the Beaujolais Nouveau from Georges Duboeuf. This time of year, Beaujolais is a choice red wine option and Beaujolais Nouveau is especially fun. Every year, on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais Nouveau is released to great fanfare, as it is traditionally the first wine of the new harvest.


Coincidentally available just in time for the holidays, the 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau ($10) is one of the most widely available and always a good choice. The color is a deep purplish ruby and the wine mimics that impression with vibrant, forward berry fruit, balanced with good structure. It is best served chilled.


But Nouveau isn’t your only Beaujolais option. There are 12 different Beaujolais appellations, 10 of which are associated with a key village and are known as “Crus” to designate the region’s most celebrated and unique wines. Gamay is the primary varietal of Beaujolais, representing 99 percent of the region’s wines. Beyond Beaujolais, cultivation of gamay is rare, making drinking the region’s wines a unique experience.


The Beaujolais region is actually part of the Burgundy region. It is located in the south of Burgundy just north of Lyon in eastern France. Granite soils, some laced with limestone and clay, and abundant sunshine provide an environment in which the grapes develop deep fruit and a solid structure.


From Duboeuf, you can’t go wrong with the 2011 Morgon “Jean Descombes” ($16). The Jean Descombes is a perennial favorite of mine. It has loads of black cherry and plum fruit and finishes with and intriguingly savory element.


My other Beaujolais selection comes from Louis Jadot, the iconic Burgundy producer – 2010 Louis Jadot Moulin-à-Vent “Château des Jacques” ($22). Maison Louis Jadot bought the Château des Jacques in 1996 and produces several Moulin à Vent, Fleurie, Morgon, and Chenas under this label. This wine is quite full-bodied, with deep black cherry fruit and savory brown spices. The plump texture is buttressed with noticeable tannin. If for some reason you don’t drink it up now, this one definitely can develop over the next several years.

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.