Tips for buying holiday wine - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tips for buying holiday wine

WEST DES MOINES (KWWL) - Choosing the right wine for your holiday dinner or party doesn't have to be complicated. The following are tips from Hy-Vee's wine expert, Jay Wilson.

"It's true that certain wines do enhance certain foods, but I'm a firm believer in the philosophy that you should drink what you like," says Wilson, who is assistant vice president, wine & spirits for the Midwest supermarket chain. "That's the great thing about wine – there are so many different flavors within each varietal that you never run out of options."

If you're serving a traditional holiday meal with ham or turkey as the main attraction, Wilson recommends pairing it with a white wine such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Chardonnay or a more delicate red, such as Pinot Noir. "But again, there are no hard-and-fast rules," he adds. "If you like a good cabernet and want to enjoy that with your Christmas dinner, go right ahead."

Wine also makes an easy, festive gift for a party host or any wine-lover on your Christmas list, Wilson notes. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $18 for a good mid-priced bottle, more if you're looking for something extra-special. He says the Certified Wine Specialist at your Hy-Vee store or the proprietor of your local wine shop can offer suggestions or point you toward the best buys for the money. They also carry a selection of non-alcoholic wines that allow those who don't drink to join in the holiday toasts.

As New Year's Eve approaches, wine and spirits stores see a sharp increase in sales of champagnes and sparkling wines. Wilson says the two terms often are used interchangeably, but only those sparkling wines that come from the Champagne region of France can rightfully be referred to as "champagne." Champagnes and sparkling wines are described according to the amount of sugar they contain – wines labeled "dry" or "sec" are sweeter than those labeled "extra brut" or "brut."

Wilson notes that while the recession has put a damper on sales of more expensive wines, per capita wine consumption in the U.S. continues its upward trend. "Consumers are more educated about wine and more comfortable ordering a glass of wine in a restaurant or serving a bottle to friends," he says. "At Hy-Vee, we've seen tremendous growth in the popularity of our wine tastings and wine clubs. If customers have the opportunity to sample a wine, they're much more likely to buy it."

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