Interview with a Vintner

Favorite wines for the holidays

We asked Andrea Immer, dean of wine studies at New York's French Culinary Institute and the author of three books, including the recently published Great Tastes Made Simple—Extraordinary Food and Wine Pairings for Every Palate (Broadway Books), to recommend her favorite wines for the holidays.

Best with Turkey
There are a lot of slam-dunk wines for Thanksgiving, but my preference is Lindemans Bin 99 Pinot Noir 2001 ($8) for the red and Dry Creek Fumé Blanc 2000 ($18) for the white. I always encourage people not to worry too much about the wine they're serving, to just put a white and a red on the table and let guests enjoy themselves. Roast meats are incredibly versatile.

For New Year's Brunch
Brunch is early in the day, so I'd go for wines that are a bit lower in alcohol. I'd have a French Champagne or a good-quality bubbly like Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante ($11). For a white wine, a Selbach-Oster Riesling-Kabinett 2001 ($14), which is a stupendous year— everyone should be trying it. For a red, a French Burgundy like Bouchard Pinot Noir La Vignée 1999 ($14).

For New Year's Eve
Champagne, of course. My favorites are all non-vintage. If I'm serving foie gras or caviar, I like pairing them with a rosé—either a Gosset Grand Rosé ($70) or a Veuve Clicquot Rosé Réserve ($77). As an addition or alternative to Champagne, I'd suggest a California sparkling wine, like one from Iron Horse Vineyards ($26-$50), or Domaine Carneros Blanc de Blancs 1996 ($50).

Discoveries for the New Year
Chile's big-gun Cabernet Sauvignons, like Concha y Toro Don Melchor 1998 ($40)—though any year is great. These wines don't command anything near the prices of French Bordeaux, but they're fabulous. And people aren't yet plugged-in to New Zealand pinot noirs—I'd recommend Brancott Reserve 2001 ($18) or Villa Maria Cellar Selection 2001 ($30).