Sommelier Leslee Miller picks great holiday wines

It's holiday time, and we're sure you've bought all your gifts and are getting ready for an onslaught of family and friends. You've got the turkey ordered, your sides planned, and even that amazing dessert is partially completed and tucked in your freezer. It's all done, right? Oh, rats--you haven't picked up any wine yet. What to get to please all the relatives?

For our holiday table, we turned to the expertise of Leslee Miller, a certified sommelier and the proprietor of the wine consulting business Amusée. With her trademark mixture of knowledge and humor, she writes, educates, and plans wine events. She learned her trade in the Pacific Northwest and, lucky for us, brought it home to the Midwest (we love her blog too).

Miller offers a few of her holiday favorites and says, "Splurging is fun, yet keep in mind--there are a zillion great wines to choose from that won't necessarily break your budget." We're all ears as she describes two whites, two reds, and two sparklers for all types of tastes.


Sokol Blosser Evolution--Willamette Valley, Oregon, $15-$18
A perfect bottle of white to fit any personality. A combination of nine white grapes, this wine is inviting, with notes of white flower and round musk melon. A fabulous treat to pair with the salad course and Christmas cookies.

William Fevre Chablis 'Champs Royaux'--Burgundy, France, $19-$23
A delicious "white wine" way to spoil even the snobbiest wine drinkers. It's 100 percent Chardonnay, but clearly not your Californian drinking Chard--quite the opposite in fact. Crisp with notes of brine and bright lemon and lime. Perfect with a cheese plate, amazing with light bites for snacking, and delicious for sipping.

Famiglia Meschini Malbec/Syrah--Mendoza, Argentina, $10-$12
Who doesn't love Malbec these days? This one is even better blended with a bit of Syrah. Minnesotans Eugenio and Teresa Meschini bring you this great holiday buy that is lush with juicy notes of blackberry yet structured with concentrated flavors of earth and smoke.

Antinori Tignanello--Tuscany, Italy, $80-$90
This is truly a splurge--a fabulous treat for anyone who loves wine. A pretty serious mouthful with notes of cigar box, dirt, and ripe cherry fruit. A great wine for someone who collects wine or, better yet, a perfect pairing for the Christmas table. Antinori, famous for his Super Tuscans, offers this top-notch blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot.

Deinhard 'Lila' Sekt Brut--Mosel, Germany, $12-$15
Looking for a fun way to bring in the New Year without breaking the bank? I love surprising folks with this wine. Made with 100 percent Riesling, this dry sparkly is the answer to your holiday budget. Perfect for mistletoe smooching or holiday noshing--it's crisp yet round with notes of honey and ripe pear.

Ruinart Rosé--Champagne, France, $72-$80
Pink and bubbles, in the same glass? Yes, please. One of Champagne's most luxurious bubbly's and certainly one of my favorites. Perfect with oysters, caviar, or chocolates. A real gem with rich notes of creamy strawberry that's also dry with green apple and toasted brioche flavors. Pamper yourself this season!

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