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At St. Louis Wine Cellars, What's the Best Holiday Wine?

Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas or another holiday, when shopping for wine, visit a local wine shop where experts are on hand to help you select the perfect vintage.

Patch asked local wine experts what they would recommend for holiday gift giving and was suprised to get the same answer

“What do they like to drink?”

In the world of wine, there’s no one perfect bottle. The best gift wine is given with ample thought towards the recipient. Do they like sweet dessert wines or a bold Cabernet Sauvignon? Would they like a bottle from a far away land, or one from their favorite local Missouri winery?

When pushed, wine experts will reluctantly give a few recommendations. But they’d much rather talk with you in person where they can show you around the shop and point out popular or underappreciated wines.

Saint Louis Cellars (Maplewood)

"The key to picking wines for Thanksgiving is to pick wines that are universal," Jennifer Williams, co-owner of Saint Louis Wine Cellars, said.

  • Clean Slate Riesling from Mosel, Germany ($11.99) is the perfect white wine for Thanksgiving because it has a crisp, refreshing elegance with mineral notes, a hint of spiciness and fresh, peach flavors. It is a drier-style Riesling, so any white wine fan would love this.
  • The Garnacha de Fuego from Spain ($8.99) is a light-bodied red with a little more spicy kick to it than a traditional Pinot Noir one would normally serve at The Big Feast. As it hits the palate, the Fuego has a voluptuous texture that takes hold and the flavor profile moves towards blacker fruits (ripe raspberries and black currants) intermixed with camphor and forest floor. The best part about this wine is that it is 92 Points Wine Advocate and UNDER $10/bottle.

Straub’s (Clayton, Webster Groves)

“The hottest category in wines are pinot gris from Oregon,” said Chris Young from Straub's. He suggests giving Raptor Ridge, Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, a 2009 vintage for $35.49. It received a 93 point score from Wine Spectator.

Other suggestions from Straub’s:

  • River Road, Chardonnay Unoaked, 2011, from California. A Straub’s exclusive. $12.99.
  • Foris, Gewurztraminer, 2010, from Oregon. $12.29.
  • Gosford, Reserve Shiraz, 2010, from Australia. $8.49.
  • Volver, Tempranillo, 2010, from Spain. $15.99
  • Solitude, Carneros Chardonnay, 2010, from California. $31.99.
  • Robert Sinskey, POV, 2008, from California. $39.99.
  • Ramey, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009. $59.99.

Struab's also has list of 20 Wines Under $20 on their website if you’d like more suggestions.

Grapevine Wine and Cheese in Kirkwood

“Go red for the holidays,” said Bob Gray of Grapevine Wine and Cheese. “Play it safe and buy something with mass appeal.” Gray also warns gift givers to avoid shopping by looking at the labels because a wine with a pretty label isn’t necessary better than a wine with a plain label.

Three Suggestions from Grapevine Wine:

  • The Ned, Pinot Gris, 2011, from New Zealand. $13.99.
  • Susana Balbo, Malbec, 2010, from Argentina. $23.99.
  • Chaumette, Reserve, 2010 from Missouri. $25.99.

Grapevine Wine offers also offers wine tastings and classes to educate customers about wines.

Friar Tucks (Fenton, Crestwood, O'Fallon)

“It’s more a case of what you and your friends enjoy,” said Jim McAvoy of Friar Tucks, a Midwest chain of liquor super stores. McAvoy said that one year searched forty websites looking for a consensus on holiday wines and could find none. He suggests finding out what will be served for dinner before picking out a wine, then asking a wine expert to help match a wine to the side dishes.

  • Mason Louis Jadot, Beaujolais Villages, from France. $9.99.

Wine With a Cause

If you want to give wine to an animal lover, then you might want to check out Nicholson Jones Wines. The California winery is co-owned by Pam Nicholson, the president of Enterprise Rent-a-Car here in St. Louis. Nicholson is also on the board of the Missouri Humane Society. She is combining her two passions by making a contribution to the local humane society for each bottle sold until December 31, 2012.

You can find Nicholson Jones wines at Schnucks; Straub’s; Wine Merchant, Ltd.; The Wine & Cheese Place; Ladue Market; Lukas Liquors; Grapevine Wines; and St. Louis Wine Market.

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