Dinner party

PALATE PLEASER Laura Ness rounds up the perfect accompaniments for your next meal with friends and family.

Want to toast with local wines as you sit down to your holiday feasts? Begin with the 2017 Guglielmo Grignolino Rosé and the 2016 Lion Ranch Grenache Blanc, move to a 2015 Aver Family Carignane, 2015 Alara Tempranillo or 2015 Medeiros Sangiovese and finish with a Thérèse Vineyards 2015 Malbec or a 2013 Creekview Old Vine Zin.

For pinot lovers, aside from Sarah’s Vineyard estate, there’s not much growing here in South Valley. That’s where Monterey comes in handy. Try the 2016 JD Hurley Central Coast Pinot or the J Lohr 2016 Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir, one of the best they’ve ever made. Their Gesture series includes a deep, dark take on Mourvedre, too.

More great nearly local pinots include the 2011 Mansfield-Dunne Pinot from the Santa Lucia Highlands, beautifully autumnal with chestnut, cranberry and forest floor; the 2015 Big Basin Vineyards Coast Grade Pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains (a Top 100 2018 Food & Wine pick), shining with raspberry tea; and the 2016 Windy Oaks Estate Cuvée, brimming with spice, ready to meet any culinary mashup you can concoct.

Another way to carve your way around holiday flavors and differing wine preferences is gewürztraminer or riesling. Hobo Wines makes an excellent well-priced Monterey gewürztraminer, filled with orange peel and ginger, while Scratch (Carmel) has a righteously juicy, flavor-packed riesling. Ryan Stirm, in Aromas, is a veritable riesling ninja, sourcing from heritage vineyards. We’re thankful winemakers still make merry with these holiday-perfect grapes.