| Booze |

The twelve wines of Christmas 2010: Part two, the best of the rest

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With only a few days to go until Christmas, it's time to 'fess up: Have you been naughty or nice? For your sake, here's hoping you've been good enough throughout the year to merit yourself worthy to partake of some seriously good juice between now and the new year.

Read on for the continuation of last week's countdown of the twelve most holiday-worthy wines of 2010.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Domaine de Vaugondy Vouvray Brut NV ($20): Is there any time of year more celebratory than the holidays? Of course not. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or any of the subsequent occasions through the new year qualify as vacation days for most people, and as such, become ideal candidates for sipping bubbly. This is no ordinary sparkling wine, though: Hailing as it does from the Vouvray region of France, we're talking simultaneously crisp yet refreshingly sweet chenin blanc. It's a wine that will charm the pants off of anyone who proclaims they're not a fan of sparklers made in a drier style, and although the wine is technically labeled a "brut" (aka dry) wine, this Vouvray possesses a lively, fruity profile, backed with steely minerality, that makes it an ideal pairing for everything from mimosas to mussels.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Reginato 'Celestina' Sparkling Rose of Malbec 2008 ($19): Two bottles of sparkling wine in one week, you say? Damn straight -- because this bottle of bubbly goodness has about as much in common flavor-wise with the sparkling Vouvray above as a rasher of bacon has in common with pork tenderloin. This is no girly glass of bubbly. Rather, pop the cork on this singularly lusty bottle of malbec-based magic and prepare yourself for a protein craving like no other. Since it's Christmastime, we're talking bacon-wrapped dates, retro cheese balls made with Roquefort and pecans or braised short ribs. Big red wine flavor + tightly wound bubbles = one fantastic holiday wine.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo 2006 ($15): You'd be hard-pressed to find a better, more versatile holiday meal companion than this engaging little Spanish gem. Soft enough for the pinot lovers, but tough enough to stand up to those who tend toward fuller-bodied bottles, it's a perfectly oaked, cherry tobacco-laced winner that just might steal the show from the far pricier wines on the bar. Given the modest price point and youthful vintage, quality winemaking is what's really at work behind this incredibly drinkable offering. Buy a case so that you'll have enough to get through dinner with the family and have a few bottles left for gift giving.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache 2008 ($20): Big, ballsy fruit. Ripe, supple tannins. Perfectly balanced mouthfeel. Those in search of delicate, unimposing wines should skip right over this entry, because this is badass. Clocking in at a "let's get hammered" level of 15 percent alcohol by volume, the Glaetzer ain't for the faint of heart. But if you love bold, in-your-face Aussie winemaking, then this is most assuredly the perfect Christmastime bottle for you.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Vino Alicia 'Pedro de Piedra' Malbec 2007 ($27): Here are two words that perfectly sum up this wine: "Swoon" and "worthy." If you love quality Malbec, look no further than this one for a version that's supremely delicious and oh-so-giftable. Produced with care under the guidance of none other than wunderkind woman winemaker Susanna Balbo, this wine will inspire visions of baked fig, cinnamon, white pepper and clove dancing in your head. Pair it with your Festivus meal of crown roast of pork with fennel and cornbread stuffing.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Domaine de Villeneuve 'Vieilles Vignes' Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007 ($45): Every sip of this wine is absolutely stellar. Ripe and ready to drink, it's a gorgeous bottling made from organic and biodynamic Rhone vines (some of them dating back to the 1950s) that reeks of baked cherry and boysenberry. Tastes like more of the same, with some cocoa and prune flavors joining the party in your mouth. This is a stunner worthy of your Christmas prime rib dinner, or maybe just curling up in front of the fireplace after the last of the guests have gone home.

Here's hoping you have the merriest of wine-soaked holidays.

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