Every year, without fail, there’s someone at the Holiday table with the wrong politics. It begins as an annoyance, a nuisance, an irritation. But if the conversation goes on too long it becomes a full on debate and then a filibuster.
Wine, thankfully, can be used as way to change the course of the banter. Think of it as an interception … a much needed interception, in fact, when a Donald Trump supporter and a Bernie Sanders backer sit down to break bread.
When talk gets louder and reaches a fevered pitch, jump in and play the diplomat. Don’t wait for name-calling.
Here’s all you need to say:
“Excuse me, you two. Have you tasted the Conundrum? Wow. What a great white wine. I bought it because it’s such a great holiday white. Just take a minute and let me know what you pick up. Apricot? Honeysuckle?”
If you’re smart, you’ll line up six bottles for your feast, so you’ll have plenty of ammunition should things get hot. Aunt Martha worked too hard on her fruit cake for it to be tossed in a food fight.
Here are six detente bottlings, at all price points, so you can keep the peace at your holiday feast.
Kung Fu Girl, 2014 Evergreen, Columbia Valley, Washington Riesling, 12 percent, $12. This wine has an incredible range. Aromas and flavors of bright apricot, mango and mineral. Crisp acidity. Nice length. It’s a steal.
Smith-Madrone, 2013 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling, 12.6%, $27. This riesling will turn heads with its great minerality. It has gorgeous stone fruit of apricot and peach, with lime in the mix. This riesling is rare because it has pitch perfect balance. Strikingly crisp.
Iron Horse, 2011 Brut X, 13.5 percent alcohol, $50. This is one of the liveliest sparklers you’ll ever come across, and it’s a modest price for the quality. It’s dry, with bright acidity and great minerality.
Le Reve, 2007 Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $105. This bubbly is pure elegance. What makes it extraordinary is its range and its restraint. It has notes of baked pear, brioche and almond, to name a few. The rich flavors are balanced by bright acidity. Pinpoint bubbles. Striking.
Dutton Goldfield, 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $40. This pinot is impressive. It has a deep, lingering note of Bing cherry that is just stunning, and all other aromas and flavors are crafted around it — the headliner. It’s also earthy and smoky, a top rate pinot on all fronts.
Loring Wine Company 2014 Keefer Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, 14.3 percent, $45. This pinot is drop dead gorgeous. It has flavors and aromas of cherry, strawberry and sandalwood. Bright, lively, upfront fruit that lingers. Impressive.
A word of advice: Don’t delay. Stock up on your peace-keeping wines. This is the time to strategize.