Planning a holiday party and pondering which wine to serve?
For a party with several guests, especially where others may be bringing dishes to share, I always prefer to serve blends over single varietal wines. I find them to be more interesting, more likely to please a variety of tastes and versatile for food pairing. I choose a red option and a white.
A while back, I tried the 2013 First & Local Red Blend at a Total Wine tasting and it instantly struck me as the perfect party wine. At about $12 a bottle, it makes for an economical choice, yet in my opinion it drinks at a respectably higher price point.
First and Local is a California blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah. It has a rich deep purple color - even the little bubbles that form around the edge of the glass when you pour it have a purple hue, sort of like grape juice. Yes, yes, I know, it is grape juice. Incidentally, have I mentioned that I can’t stand grape juice, yet enjoy wine, never thought about it much till just now - I digress.
I very much enjoyed this wine. On the nose, deep dark blackberry, spice, slight herbal notes and a hint of smoke. The herbal notes, specifically mint, became more pronounced on the second day. The silky round mouth feel cannot be overlooked yet at just the right time it delightfully gives way to a long slightly tart, peppery, juicy finish. This wine is great by itself and very versatile with food. Think meatballs, a cheese tray, barbecue sandwiches, pizza rolls, mushroom canapés, lamb chops and the list goes on.
Try this for your holiday party or with dinner. We enjoyed this with étouffée one night and on the second night, Hamburger Hotdish. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.