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If Rudolph was a wine

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Nothing says holidays like sparkly things, and in a season of red Santa Claus suits, holly berries, and reindeer noses, a red bubbly was a perfect match for the sleigh-ride dizzying high of appetizers I indulged as I hit the holiday party circuit.

The parties were stocked with the usual ubiquitous cocktail party suspects: mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, bacon-wrapped scallops were the “main courses” with “sides” of cheese, crackers, olives, and nuts. The combination of protein, carbs, salt, and fat made wine pairing like navigating a snowstorm. The creaminess of the egg in the quiches and the scallops would typically call for a white wine with substance like a Chardonnay, while the coal-in-your-stocking dark smokiness of the bacon and mini-hotdog (“lil smokie,” they’re called, stuffed in buttery pasty, no less) would call for a wine like a Cabernet that’s leathery tannins could level the fat and that’s dark fruit could sweeten the smoke. The saltiness of the olives and nuts needed an earthy red, like a Syrah. Yet all the heavy appetizers needed a palate lift to maintain the steady hum of eating and drinking that makes a good cocktail party.

I brought my hosts a bottle of Louise d’Estournal, an unusual sparkling red wine that was an all-around profound pairing for all the bold bites on the table. It was also a one-of-a-kind, unduplicated host gift that, like Rudolph, was hard not to like in its unusualness and has all the potential to become a holiday season must. Rather than milk and cookies, I am leaving Santa a bottle of Louise d’Estournal instead (for after the sleigh driving, of course).

Check it out conveniently at Trader Joe’s. And enjoy this sparkling season of wonder and wines.

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