From your honey-toned highlights down to the Manolos on your feet, you’ve got it together. But choosing a bottle of wine always seems to reduce you to a head-scratching, throat-clearing state of confusion.
Know what? You’re not alone. But help is on the way.
As Director of Communications for E&J Gallo Winery, Carmen Castorina has the enviable job of traveling around the world on behalf of this legendary collection of wines. A Texas resident, Castorina has trained at the University of California at Davis and the Culinary Institute of America, and today he’s playing private sommelier just for us. Read on for his affordable, easy-to-find* picks, perfect for any holiday occasion.
1. Bring on the bubbly.
For starters, Castorina favors Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée ($10) for its “bright, clean aromas and flavors” and “citrus finish”. Choose this crowd-pleaser for cocktail parties, as it would pair well with salty snacks and traditional starters like baked brie with fruit.
2. Try an Italian accent.
La Marca Prosecco ($15) is the second bubbly on Castorina’s list. “An excellent value for the price,” according to our expert, this Italian sparkler is available at fine wine shops and select supermarkets.
3. Design a delicious dinner.
“Flavors of green apple, orange zest and apple pie are complemented by buttery and toasty notes.” Wow. Just reading the description of Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay ($20) makes us want to design a festive dinner menu in its honor. We’re thinking roasted citrus-stuffed chicken and mesclun salad with goat cheese and tarragon vinaigrette Who’s hungry?
4. Impress your guests.
A light to medium-bodied red, Pinot Noir is often described as elegant, refined and complex. Our expert’s pick in this food-friendly category is MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir ($27) from California, available at fine wine shops and select supermarkets. Try matching it with mild proteins such as lamb or salmon.
5. Move over, Merlot.
It’s been speculated among those in-the-know that Malbec might be the new Merlot. That is to say, this hot variety from Argentina is gaining popularity as an affordable go-to pick for red wine lovers. Castorina recommends the 2008 Alamos Malbec ($10) for its “black raspberry and currant flavors mingled with notes of sweet spice and a touch of leather.”
Looks like we’ve got plenty of choices at our fingertips now!
*Prices are approximate. Unless otherwise noted, wines are widely available at area supermarkets and liquor stores.