The Wine Skeptic’s Guide to Holiday Wine

Pastoral makes the case with five no-fail bottles

By The Editors
November 19, 2015 9:00 am

“Wine can be a better teacher than books, and the banter is often better than books.”

Hat tip Stephen Fry.

But say you, like us, know nothing about wine: it pays to have a go-to place of procurement.

That place is Pastoral Chicago, the wine and cheese emporium that just opened its largest location in Andersonville. You know Pastoral: a most impressive wine shop. Delicious, decadent sandwiches. And with its brand new wine bar/restaurant Appellation on-site, a solid place to drop in for a glass and a well-curated plate of cheese.

So we enlisted the advice of Pastoral head honchos Mark Wrobel and Lydia Burns to help you pick out the best wines (and cheeses) for any upcoming shindigs. All ready and available in-store.

Costelcosa Prosecco
Sparkly and celebratory. The traditional Italian apertivo Prosecco is having a moment and the beauty of this wine is it pairs well with everything on the table. Perfect for: light conversation. Simple, low alcohol and a touch of residual sugar, with just enough to acidity to cleanse the palate before breaking bread. $18.99

Pairs well with: Il Nocciolo (Alta Langa, Italy) — A rich and slightly funky robiola-style cheese made with a blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk. $26.99/lb

Camille Savès Cuvee Brut Cart Blanche
Some rich bubbly from Bouzy, France. Delicate at 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. But balanced with layers of fruit and spice that change with every sip. Lively and approachable. Pop this one for a toast. $59.99

Pairs well with: Brie Fermier (Ferme de Jouvence,  France) — This robust double crème’s grassy, earthy notes pair best when washed down with Champagne. $22.99/lb

Keller Riesling Trocken 
Trocken is German for dry. And this Riesling is bone-dry. Good for: over-cooked turkey. Also perfectly cooked turkey. Its bright acidity will also cut through all the gravy. $22.99

Pairs well with: Etude (Andante Dairy, California), a seasonal goat cheese made better when partnered with a crisp, mineral-driven wine such as this riesling. $36.99/lb

Field Recordings Fiction Red
A red that should be on every table whether it comes in a bottle or a can. Juicy, spicy and robust. Heavy on its feet and higher in ABV. Keep this one away from the drunk relatives. $19.99

Pairs well with: Alpage Gruyere (Gruyère S.A. Switzerland), an iconic gruyère made over fire in a high altitude Chalet, and is only available this time of year. $28.99/lb

Brooks Runaway Red Pinot Noir
Grab a bottle of Pinot if you’re looking for a lighter alternative for reds. Safe bet: This bottle, which stands as a great introduction to Oregon Pinot Noir that maintains cherry fruit but also a touch of savory cooked mushroom. $19.99

Pairs well with: Good Thunder (Alemar Cheese, Minnesota) Wait until this cheese is ripe and cut the top off and serve with a spoon. This decadent, custard-like cheese is best slathered on a warm baguette shared among friends.  $29.99/lb


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