Plus: a few things to keep in mind when selecting a wine all your guests will love.
When it comes to entertaining, my mother is and has always been the hostess with the mostest. I used to ogle her perfectly off-white china and envy her elaborate glassware, but the thing I was always the most impressed by was her ability to make time out of nowhere. With three kids and seemingly a thousand jobs, she always managed to pull off the prettiest holiday parties. Try as I might, I simply haven’t been able to master the preparations the way she does.
Instead, my fiancé and I take a shortcut: we buy a cheeseboard and make sure the French wine selections are crowd pleasing and on-point. Sounds simple, right? Buying the cheeseboard, sure, (although I’m spoiled with my local neighborhood cheesemonger, Van Hook Cheese & Grocery) but sometimes selecting wines that everyone will love can be a little bit daunting. There are a thousand options out there – from Champagne to premier Cru Burgundy and first growth Bordeaux – but I find that the humblest wines are usually the crowd pleasers. This year, with that in mind, I’m bringing two selections from M. Chapoutier’s Pays D’Oc portfolio: Marius – Vermentino Blanc and Syrah-Grenache Blend. This duo is both easy to find and affordable. They’re also full tasting notes that are likely to please even the most difficult of palates. Read on for the full reviews.
Marius Vermentino, M. Chapoutier 2020 ($11.99, Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits)
I think Vermentino is one of France’s most underrated grape varieties. It forms the backbone of a wide number of white blends from Provence to Roussillon and even down to Corsica but it’s rare to find it shining on its own in single-varietal wine format. This one is perfect in its simplicity, with notes of pear and peach balanced beautifully with trademark French minerality and acidity. If your party-goers love a classic French Chardonnay, this one will do nicely instead.
Pro Pairing Tip: The juicy, fruit-forward flavors of this Vermentino will balance out dry or aged cheeses like Parmesan or Manchego. Pair them together for a mouth-watering combination!
Marius Syrah-Grenache, M. Chapoutier 2020 ($12.95, Saratoga Wine & Spirits)
No place does Grenache better than the South of France. Lush, round and wonderfully expressive, it’s easy to see why it’s called the Pinot Noir of the South! I personally love Syrah/Grenache blends and wish more people would give them a shot, especially since Syrah can be polarizing and Grenache just doesn’t have that “name brand” recognition yet! Chapoutier’s expression here is as mouth-watering as it is approachable. Think black cherry and white pepper, complemented on the palate with silky tannins. This little bottle can easily become the go-to red blend in your wine fridge.
Pro Pairing Tip: Syrah is always crying out for cured or smoked meats, so make sure you have a few of those options on your board. For cheeses, try a sharp cheddar to balance the spice of the Syrah and dark fruit in the Grenache.
No matter what you end up bringing to the holiday party, keep it simple and attainable! The entire point of holiday gatherings shouldn’t be to envy whoever brought the fanciest dish, but rather enjoy each other’s company. Raise a glass with these upbeat wines from the Pays D’Oc and you simply can’t go wrong. Santé and bonne fête !
This post has been generously sponsored by M. Chapoutier. All thoughts and opinions shared here are uniquely my own. Thank you for supporting French Wine Tutor!