Swirl Girl: The twelve wines of Christmas 2010: Part one

Have you ever found yourself pondering the notion that if your goal was to drink a bottle of wine every day from today until your last day on this earth, you'd never have to try the same wine twice? A nobler task may never present itself to you, so what are you waiting for? With just twelve days standing between now and Christmas, forgo the gifting of partridges, French hens and turtle doves (though all would make for fine wine-pairing partners) and share instead with your true love any of these perfect-for-the-holiday wines.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...The Infinite Monkey Theorem Albariño 2010 ($20): Just because it's wintertime doesn't mean you should put aside all of your white-wine drinking until warmer days return. But as luck (or global warming, your call) would have it, Denver's recent, damn-near balmy temperatures may have you craving something especially crisp and refreshing. Enter the Infinite Monkey Theorem's latest bottling -- a delightful little sprite of a wine, full of bracing lemon-tinged, juicy grapefruit flavors. What makes it holiday-worthy? Oh, just the thought of sipping a glass or three while enjoying hors d'oeuvre like smoked trout dip or shrimp cocktail.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Lageder "Benefizium Porer" Pinot Grigio 2007 ($20): If you tend to believe that all pinot grigios are insipid, uninteresting whites fit only for the most dismal kind of porch pounding, you'd not only be wrong, you'd be missing out on a near-perfect holiday season white. The Lageder pinot grigio sets the example for all this grape can offer -- it's lean and bright, but layered with more complex tastes of dried apricot and Asian pear. Add to that the borderline rich and creamy finish of every sip and you'll likely find yourself bringing a bottle to every holiday gathering you're invited to this season.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Cloudline Pinot Noir 2008 ($22): There's just something about pinot noir that makes it a wonderful sort of liquid balm for this time of year. Maybe it's pinot's restrained elegance, or the even-handed balance of fruit and oak that seems to calm the mind and spirit in the face of holiday-season stressors. The Cloudline pinot demonstrates that kick-ass, Oregonian-style pinot-making that marries dirty terroir expression to sexy, ripe strawberry and raspberry jam overtones. Which is exactly what you'll want to be drinking, come time to carve the holiday turkey or pork roast.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... L'Ancien Beaujolais 2008 ($20): So lovely, this wine. No bubblicious-nouveau Beaujolais here: This is straight up, old-school gamay featuring mouthfuls of pomegranate, currant and the faintest hint of crushed rose petals. If you're none too familiar with the gamay varietal, think of it as pinot noir's livelier younger sister. This soft, fruity, low-in-tannin little number would be oh-so-perfect with everything from a busy-night-of-last-minute-shopping dinner of take-out rotisserie chicken to Christmas Eve's porcini mushroom-stuffed game hens.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Lo Tengo Malbec 2009 ($11): Bodega Norton knows from good wine. This ridiculously low-priced bottle is so hypnotically delicious that you just might be tempted to keep it a secret from your friends, lest they buy up every last bottle on the shelf before you do. No matter that this malbec doesn't have much age on it -- it's utterly drinkable (if not guzzle-worthy) in spite of its youth. A classic example of the varietal, the wine features plenty of ripe black cherry, Dutch cocoa and cola flavors, making it a superb match for those addictive bacon-wrapped dates and chorizo-stuffed mushrooms you'll be slowly trying to back away from for the next few weeks.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Heron Sexto '6' Red Blend ($15): The first word that came to mind after tasting this wine was "more!" Okay, seriously? It was "intriguing." The rush of flavors that come at you (spice! smoke! berry! earth!) will have you scratching your head, unsure of exactly where the wine is from or which grape it's made from. And therein lies the beauty of this wine: It's actually a Spanish blend of six different varietals, grenache, carignan and tempranillo chief among them. Balanced acidity and easy-drinkin' fruitiness qualify this wine as a winner for any holiday gathering, but you'll be especially psyched to pull this one out for those post-dinner thirsty moments where you need something tasty but not so expensive that it'll be lost on your nearly-soused palate. So by all means, feel free to drink as much of this wine as you'd like with no adverse effects (to your wallet, anyway).

Check back next week for Swirl Girl's remaining six wines of Christmas.

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Kendra Anderson

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