The difference between entertainment and extravagance

Entertaining loads of friends and family over the holidays is expensive enough just for food. Adding several bottles of wine costing $30 or more at each meal can easily tip the balance between entertainment and extravagance. So here are more modest options to consider.

Cantine del Borgo Reale, Prosecco Brut, (Non-Vintage), Italy ($18; mevushal): This is a light, dry, bubbly and most friendly wine. It offers aromas and flavors of warm brioche, subtle citrus notes, a light crisp apple quality, while being refreshing, palate reviving and very drinkable. Served chilled.

De La Rosa, Chai 18, Organic Welschriesling, 2015 ($20; mevushal): This latest vintage is an expressive, refreshing, aromatic, and a little fruity, medium-dry Austrian welschriesling — unrelated to the riesling grape — with enjoyable aromas and flavors of ripe green apple, citrus, some subtle tropical fruit notes and all supported by somewhat bracing acidity. Versatile and food friendly. Served lightly chilled.

Jezreel Valley, Rose, Israel, 2016 ($22; non-mevushal): This vivid and delicious rosé — a unique blend of 38 percent carignan, 37 percent syrah, 15 percent argaman and 10 percent sauvignon blanc — is aromatic, flavorful, refreshing and delightful, with notes of raspberries, citrus and watermelon, balanced by racy acidity. The finish is long and enchanting. A standout Israeli rosé amid the dozens that have hit the American market this year. Served lightly chilled.

Carmel Selected, Mediterranean Blend, Shomron, Israel, 2016 ($12; mevushal): This inviting blend of 45 percent shiraz, 30 percent carignan, 20 percent petite sirah and 5 percent viognier, is light, fruity and altogether very Israeli: it is mostly dry, though with a touch of fruit punch on the short but pleasant and lively finish. Surprisingly, it all holds together and just sort of works. With time in the glass, it smooths out a bit more.

Château Les Riganes, Bordeaux, France, 2016 ($10; mevushal): This is a simple yet serious and very pleasing entry-level Bordeaux (from the Entre-Deux-Mers region); fruity, soft, with some light but typical Bordeaux characteristics of black cherry, plum, cassis, blueberry, blackberry, spice, vanilla, wisps of smoke, a little earthiness and just enough balancing tannins and acidity to keep it all enjoyably together. A nice wine for the money.
Château Trijet, Bordeaux, France, 2015 ($12; non-mevushal): Another tasty, enjoyable, budget-friendly little quaffer from Bordeaux — a 70/30 blend of organically grown merlot and cabernet sauvignon — offering dark fruits (raspberries, black cherries), lavender and tobacco leaf, a touch of licorice and with just enough Old World charm to keep it grounded and food friendly. With a little time the nose opens up more than expected, with additional earthy black cherry and even a little cracked pepper.

Terra di Seta, Chianti Classico, DOCG, Tuscany, 2013 ($20; non-mevushal): This delicious medium-bodied blend of 95 percent sangiovese and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon (all ICEA certified organically grown), offers up delicious aromas of violets, sour red cherry, coffee and cranberry, leading into a lovely palate of freshly crushed raspberries and blackberries, red currants, red cherries, with a touch of vanilla, ginger, and pepper spice; with soft, fine tannins, nice rich acidity and a long, smooth finish with an additional touch of cocoa and spice.
And to accompany dessert:
Baron Herzog, Late Harvest, Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, Calif., 2016 ($25; mevushal): This luscious, aromatic, fruity yet serious sweet wine offers notes of pear, honey, peach, apricot, mandarin oranges, mango, custard and a smidgen of candied ginger. Served lightly chilled. L’chaim!

Send your wine and liquor questions and challenges to lchaimqs@gmail.com.

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