Wine guide: Reds for every occasion
$20 or less
Julia James Pinot Noir ($15) “Pinot noir is my go-to Thanksgiving wine because they are such great partners with food,” says Tatjana Brown, owner of Meza in Westerville. “This is great for the money. It’s really soft and easy to drink, more fruit-forward style.” Occasion: Serve at Thanksgiving dinner.
Nicolas Pinot Noir ($10) “It’s a great value and just delicious for a pinot. It’s got great fruit; very easy drinking,” says Robin Christophersen, assistant manager at Twisted Vine in Grandview. Pinot noir and Beaujolais are perfect wines to reach for when you want something fruitier, she adds.Occasion: Offer as an easy drinker at a dinner party.
$25 and up
Drew Fogeater Pinot Noir ($45)Brown picks this California wine for its balance and complexity. “It’s a boutique wine,” she says. “It will showcase that smaller-production, high-quality wine. People who get really into wine will appreciate it.” Occasion: Gift to your oenophile friend.
Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie ($27)Think light red, and you may reach for a pinot. But Christophersen says Beaujolais-Villages and Cru Beaujolais (two designations higher than Nouveau) should be your wine of choice this year. “These are extraordinary, fruity wines that start in the lower [$20 range],” she says. “[This winery] puts out some wonderful, very accessible wines.” Occasion: Gift it or enjoy with turkey or other lighter fare.
$20 or less
William Kavney Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)“This is one of our best-selling cabs,” Brown says. Try to buy a Napa cab at this price point, and you’ll typically get a blend of various regions. But this bottle is all Napa Valley. “You get a lot of big, bolder flavors, but the finish is smooth and easy.” Occasion: Hostess gift
Cellers Can Blau Blau ($14)Want something fruitier? Christophersen suggests turning to Spanish reds like grenache and syrah. “One of my favorites is this beautiful bottle that’s great for gifts and food,” she says. A blend of three grapes, this wine from Montsant, a wine-growing region in Spain, drinks like a Rhone varietal—big and juicy with blueberry and blackberry notes. Occasion: Pair with a hearty or spicy meal; a great gift or drink-now wine
$25 and up
Darioush ‘Caravan’ Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) “This one is beautiful on its own and would be awesome paired with steak or beef,” Brown says. “It’s definitely a great food wine with a little more structure, more nuances, more herbal notes.” From Napa Valley, this estate wine is a good value for the price, she adds. Occasion: Wow at a dinner party.
Clos du Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($37) Want something special? Look to the Rhone area, Christophersen says. “This is one of my favorite wines,” she says. “It’s just delicious, great fruit, too. They have a licorice taste in general, and their tannins are pretty smooth.” Occasion: For a special gift; drink it now, but it’s safe to cellar, too.