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William Hunter
October 30, 2018 | William Hunter

Reflecting on my Favorite Wines for the Holidays

I’ve been asked many times which wine is my favorite. I have never been open to answering that question definitively for the same reason that parents find it difficult to answer the same question regarding their children. However, autumn has always been a time of reflection for me so this holiday season, I’m going to break my silence and reflect on my favorite wines that are still available. And at the risk of sounding maudlin, I’m also going to reflect on my childhood favorite food dish that is a perfect fit, not only for my favorite wines, but for this time of year.

I’ve always had an affinity for lamb dishes ever since growing up in New Jersey, remembering my grandmother roasting a leg in the oven on a crisp autumn Sunday afternoon with frost on the windows. The aroma filling the house was the only thing that could get me away from the TV and my beloved New York football Giants (of course, for you football fans, this was the late 1950’s when they were good). Since then, I’ve gravitated towards braised lamb shanks which are, as all lamb dishes are, perfect fall/winter fare and I’ve also gravitated towards a rich but complex red wine to pair with it, which wasn’t available to me in my childhood since my grandmother didn't make wine.

I'd like to share a recipe that I’ve enjoyed for many years, as well as my favorite wines––which are perfect for this dish at––an additional incentive. Why an additional incentive since they are already a great value? I suppose I want more people to find in them what I have found. And, silly me, I’ve always put making fine wines ahead of making money.

The following wines are presented in order of this winemaker’s preference. First is the 2015 Soft Asylum Pinot Noir. I know many of you have overlooked this wine; it is only human nature to avoid anything new. Nothing needs to be said about it, you just need to try it. Up until the release of that wine I’ve felt the best pinot noir I’ve ever produced is the 2014 Freestone Station Pinot Noir, therefore it’s second on my list. The third is the 2015 Graton’s Choice Chardonnay, though not a wine for lamb it would be a perfect match for any rich poultry, or fish dish, or appetizers thereof. It is so Meursault-like that I just drink it as an aperitif and have a hard time putting it down. This wine will make you non-chardonnay drinkers into believers and it wouldn’t surprise me if it does pair with lamb after all. Finally, the 2013 Syrah, though not as popular as pinot noir, is an incredibly full, dark, and complex wine and the only wine I would suggest with lamb other than the previously mentioned pinot noirs.

My Grandmother's Braised Lamb

The lamb recipe I’m offering is relatively simple and can easily be altered to suit one’s taste.

View Recipe


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