A Fun Wine for Christmas Time

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Can't decide which wine to drink during Christmas? Follow the suggestions of Stefano Moiso, owner of the wine shop and bar La Vite Turchese in Barolo for several choices from Piemonte and also outside of Italy.

Christmas is a time to enjoy with family and friends, often around the dinner table in an atmosphere of good cheer, chatting with wine glasses in hand and the bottle close by. "For this, meditation wines should be made illegal," jokes Stefano Moisi, owner of the Vite Turchese, a wine bar and shop in the heart of Barolo, "since some of those labels risk being so complex they're confusing."

La vite TurcheseWe at Wine Pass prefer a relaxed and friendly atmosphere when drinking, too. Could you recommend a wine that everyone at the dinner table would like?

"If we're talking about outside of Piemonte, I don't have any doubts. During Christmas we open a Champagne: an extraordinary wine, just the trick for accompanying anything from a fish-based appetizer to pasta or a rich, braised meat."

But it costs an arm and a leg, especially with today's economy.

"Wrong. If you look for wines outside of the usual labels, today there are several small producers who produce high-quality products at prices just a little more expensive than a Franciacorta."

For example?

"Two examples. First, there's Blanc de Blancs, a pure Chardonnay, fresh and light, perfect for the holidays: Voirin Jumel. Second, if you want something a bit "fatter," with large, fat bubbles, I'd pick up a Champagne made from 100% Pinot Nero, very fun and adapted to all tastes: Champagne Brut Premier Cru "L'Ouverture" by Daniel Savart."

Let's return to Piemonte. What should we serve with Christmas appetizers?

"Piemonte has excellent appetizer wines. For a particular wine with interesting character that pairs with something special, I recommend Erbaluce Brut di Cieck. An excellent metodo classico, fermented in small oak barrels. Its price is almost laughable (around €18), a lifesaver for small, local production."

As for first course?

"Here I suggest Barbera, better if it's Barbera d'Asti. My personal suggestion, among many, is Barbera d'Asti Briccone of Marco Minnucci. He's a young and ambitious guy from Costigliole d'Asti and scrupulously follows biodynamic agriculture ideals. His Barbera is a great wine with very low sulfite content, so you don't wake up with a terrible headache the next morning, even if you drink a few more glasses than usual."

And for a special second course?

"I'd say Barbaresco. Barbaresco is a wine to drink in company, to be tasted in the small hours of the morning while you're still up talking with friends of this and that. It won't put a hole in your pocket like Barolo. If I had to direct you towards a label, I'd suggest Ca' Nova's Montefico or Montestefano, two excellent bottles."

To finish, would you say we stay with Moscato d'Asti?

"It seems obvious, but what if something even better existed to pair with dessert? Here, I allow myself to mention the Moscato of the Oddero family of Cascina Fiori. Few Moscato d'Asti wines are able to move me like theirs', and yet at the same time not tire me out, thanks to the low sugar content."

Final question: if we want a wine to really astonish us to bring in the New Year, what should we drink?

"It's difficult to say. There are several labels that deserve a mention."

Let's choose one.

"Here I have to go with two choices again. Cascina Roccalini Barbaresco 2010: it really has a fantastic aroma, and it's such a classic wine it's almost surprising. And Gattinara Cantina Nervi 2004: here is a Nebbiolo that I'd define as typical. It's typical for its place because it's a native variety; typical for its territory because it is so different from our Nebbiolo wines here. I suggest you try Gattinara for this reason, as well: to better understand one of the wines we drink every day in a new light."

Barbaresco Roccalini

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