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Kushman By The Bottle: Wine For Holiday Parties

File / Paul Sakuma / AP

File / Paul Sakuma / AP

In this month's Kushman By the Bottle,  wine expert Rick Kushman shares advice for holiday parties: what to serve if you're the host and what to bring if you're the guest.  Should it be red, white or bubbly? And what about those kitchen knick-knacks with wine motifs? He tackles it all.


Rick’ picks for December


  • La Marca Proseco ($15): This Italian sparkling is fresh, a little frothy, and seems a tiny but sweet because of the fruit. A crowd pleaser.
  • Korbel Blanc de Noirs. They have a bunch, the Blanc de Noirs rocks. It’s $12-13 in the stores.
  • Domaine Chandon Brut Classic and Domaine Carneros Taittinger Brut (Both $15-20-ish): Both are vibrant and clean, and both have mouthful of fruit. Of the two, I’m a bigger fan of the Domaine Carneros Brut and its soft yeasty undertones.
  • Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley ($20-22): Drinks very like a French Champagne, meaning it’s a bit lighter, and slightly more crisp than some other American bubblies. Goes with everything.
  • Sigura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad ($20-22): This is an easy-to-find Spanish bubbly called Cava. The bottle has a silver band on the bottom  -- so it makes a great gift -- and it’s both crisp and rich.
  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($30): This is the top American-owned sparkling wine house and this wine is creamy and a bit yeasty but still bright.
  • Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut ($34): Everything a genuine Champagne should be. It hits the sweet spot between the dry crispness of French sparklers and the richer fruit flavors Americans love.
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut ($42): This is a go-to Champagne for lots of people. Starts with apples, pears and hints of bread and yeast, then finishes crisp and clean.          

Other wines that fit the season:

  • Layer Cake Malbec ($12-$14): Argentina’s great grape, a bit spicey, lots of dark fruit. Pairs well with a party
  • Clarksburg Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarksburg ($26): This is always a surprise, and always good. They focus is the fruit but it’s round and well balanced and a great local wine.
  • Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($23): From Michael Mondavi, everything a Napa Cab should be, except for the price.
  • Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($32-$36): One of the best, and most underpriced Cabernets in Napa. Great fruit that goes from bright to dark, and there’s a light lushness to it all.