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Seasonal Sips

Did you know that those of us who choose our wines by labels or names we like might actually be on to something? Experts say people are more apt to enjoy a wine that’s packaged to their taste.

Interesting, right?

For those of us who stand in the wine section and still can’t figure it out, even based on bottle, here are a few great go-to’s that are sure to be suitable for your seasonal soirees.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Each year, on the third Thursday of November, wines from vineyards across the Beaujolais province in France make their way to Paris to be shipped all over the world. Well over fifty million bottles are shipped and sold each year. Wine enthusiasts, bent on participating in a longstanding tradition, battle to see who can procure a bottle first. Don’t be intimidated, though, the Beaujolais Nouveau is akin to a table wine. The grapes are harvested only weeks before shipping, leaving just a short time for fermentation. The result is a simple, fruity flavor brightened when it’s served chilled.

Be the first of your friends to snag a bottle or two and then give this little history lesson over wine and apps. Genius!

Gruet Extra-Dry Sparkling Wine

Bubbly and boisterous, this sparkling wine (it’s from New Mexico, not from the Champagne region of France) will certainly keep the celebration alive. Airy and aromatic, it has touches of sweet balanced with hints of more acidic citrus – that is to say, it has a peach-y flavor that’s mellowed by the bubbles. It’s well-priced, tastes impressive, and will add a little extra pop-fizz-clink to your party. Serve and sparkle.

gruet

Pour, clink, cheers!

Mulled Wine

The process of mulling wine is not nearly as intimidating as it may seem. In fact, it’s quite simple and leaves your home smelling of cinnamon and cloves, with hints of sweetness from the brewing wine. It can be a warm treat for blustery nights, and your guests will think you put more time in than you did.

Ingredients:

1 qt. red wine (preferably bold)

1/2-1/3 c. sugar (I used brown sugar, but white works)

Wine mulling spices – 2 tbsp. each: cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel, allspice, cloves (these can be bought in pre-packaged bundles, or you can put the smaller spices into a cheesecloth or tea infuser)

Cinnamon sticks & orange peel to garnish

Preparation:

Gently simmer the wine, sugar (to taste), and mulling spices for 20-30 minutes. Remove the spices.

Serve hot or over ice, preferably in pretty, clear mugs/glasses garnished with a cinnamon stick and an orange twist. Loverly!

- Biz Farrell, freelance food writer and humble gourmand

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