Chefs’ Picks: Top Holiday Bottles
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating, cooking and drinking from coast to coast.
When parties abound, it’s tempting to just buy a box of wine and let the masses descend. But if you want to put a little more thought into the season’s celebratory bottles, dazzle your guests by taking your cues from these chefs’ go-to bottles to serve, gift and brighten spirits.
Chef Anita Lo’s go-to holiday bottle takes inspiration from her classical French training. “I think rosé champagne of any kind (real champagne from Champagne) is festive," she says. "I really enjoy drinking Besserat de Bellefon Rosé Champagne.” Offered on the list of her multicultural restaurant, Annisa, the bottle pairs well with seafood, including crudo, oysters and caviar, as well as Greek taramasalata and shrimp chips. Consider your holiday apps sorted.
For a multitasking, crowd-pleasing holiday wine, Chef Matt Jennings of Boston’s Townsman turns to Cru Beaujolais. Unlike the widely available Beaujolais Nouveau, Cru is only made in 10 villages, and adheres to high standards. “For Cru Beaujolais I prefer Morgon, specifically bottlings from the Côte de Py, towards the southern end of the appellation. Jean Foillard and Château des Jacques are particular favorites,” he says. “They both share a ferric minerality that some say is derived from the granite soils.” Besides being food-friendly and supremely gulpable, this French wine has a lot of Burgundy notes, but is available at more reasonable prices.
For Denver-based Chef Paul C. Reilly of Beast + Bottle, the holidays are all about celebrating with sparkling wine. He’s a big fan of California vineyard Schramsberg’s Blanc de Noirs, a meat-friendly, well-priced bottle that he’d serve with just about everything, including fried foods and cheeseburgers. “It's yeasty and toasty," Reilly says. "Sparkling pinot noir is broader on the palate and is the closest to Champagne that an American producer can offer.”
Chef Michael Costa of Washington, D.C.’s Zaytinya has adopted many different holiday traditions over the past decade, but his holiday bottle has remained a constant. “My go-to is an Italian Amaro called Montenegro," he says. "It is a digestivo, commonly consumed at the end of a meal to aid in digestion. It is the perfect antidote to the excesses of the holiday season.” The potent herbal elixir can be quite bracing, so it’s great for slow sips by the fire.
For Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Cockscomb, the season is all about giving and drinking local. “I always like to give my staff a magnum of Anchor Steam's Christmas beer. It's different every year and makes for a great, unique gift," he says. "When I visit friends or family over the holidays, I like to bring a nice bottle of gin from the Bay Area.” Two of his favorite local gins include Anchor Distilling's Anchor Old Tom Gin from San Francisco and Raff Distillerie's Bummer & Lazarus, made on Treasure Island.
James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy of Portland, Ore.’s, Beast is an all-season wine opportunist, drinking rosé year-round and bubbles just about any time. But when it comes to holiday menu planning, she likes to stock up on her go-to white, Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg 2013. “It is such a great food wine; it goes with nearly everything during the holidays," she says. "It's nice and smoky, with some bright, rich fruit; awesome with rich winter fare!”