The holiday season is steadily approaching, and retailers across the country are already preparing for the rush. By now, most buyers have placed orders for more Champagne to accommodate the growing demand—since 2019, Champagne sales in the U.S. have increased by some 30 percent, according to an IWSR Drinks Market Analysis report. Retailers are also likely to raise the volume of red and white wine to accommodate the seasonal boost that comes with holidays year after year.
Some buyers have big plans for the increased inventory, too. It’s during the festive winter season that retailers unveil curated wine collections, holiday gift sets, in-store tasting events, and other marketing measures to help inspire wine lovers’ holiday purchasing plans. “I often get my Thanksgiving-focused newsletter out in the first week of November, and my Champagne newsletter comes out in early December,” says Craig Perman, the owner and buyer of Perman Wine Selections in Chicago. “A lot of my customers buy bottles in advance of when they need it. They look forward to our newsletters, stock up on stuff, and inventory moves quickly. That means I’ve got to be ready and have the wines I know will interest them well in advance.”
With the holidays right around the corner, SevenFifty Daily asked seven wine retailers nationwide for the bottles they’re most excited to recommend and sell this year, whether it be wines to accompany lavish holiday meals and parties or the perfect bottle for gifting. (All wines are listed with price per bottle at the noted establishment.)
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1. Georges Laval ‘Les Hautes Chèvres’ Brut Nature 2014, Champagne, France; $260
Selected by Craig Perman, owner, Perman Wine Selections, Chicago
In the 16 years Perman Wine Selections has operated in Chicago, it’s become a reliable source of quality wines off the beaten path. Shoppers are as likely to find a skin-contact wine from Slovakia as they are a bottle of Burgundy. But Perman’s selection of grower Champagne has become a “huge focus of the store,” he says. Perman’s customers look forward to limited releases of bubbly sold throughout the year, often sourced from his annual trip to France.
“I was one of the first people in Chicago to sell Champagne from Georges Laval,” says Perman. “My customers like the story behind Laval and what they represent. And then, of course, the Champagne’s excellent to drink, too.” Perman also notes that the Les Hautes Chèvres makes a particularly great gift “because of its rarity.”
2. Cantina Carafoli ‘Nicchia’ Lambrusco di Modena NV, Emilia-Romagna, Italy; $15
Selected by Jessica Green, owner, Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique, Sayville, New York
“I love bringing Lambrusco and sparkling red wine for Thanksgiving and the holidays,” says Jessica Green, the owner and wine buyer at Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique in Long Island. Green keeps bottles of Cantina Carafoli’s ‘Nicchia’ Lambrusco on store shelves throughout the season, saying that the wine’s fruitiness, vibrant, and easy-drinking structure adds a pop of festivity to any holiday table. Not to mention, the wine is incredibly food-friendly.
“Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just getting into wine, Lambrusco is very friendly on the palate, and they go with most of the foods people eat at the holidays and throughout the winter,” Green says. “It just puts a twist on the table.”
3. Barale Fratelli ‘Serraboella’ Barbaresco 2019, Piedmont, Italy; $59
Selected by Celia Barber, owner, Imperfetta, Seattle
Celia Barber doesn’t necessarily prepare for the holidays. Instead, she depends on the weather to act as her buying guide. That means by the time the winter holidays roll around, Barber’s bottle shop, Imperfetta, is already fully stocked with “textural whites, fuller reds, and more elegant bubbles,” she says.
Barber is excited to share Barale Fratelli’s ‘Serraboella’ Barbaresco with shoppers, calling the bottle a “no-brainer” buy for the season. A 100 percent Nebbiolo from the Piedmont subregion of Barbaresco, the organic wine is “like a well-tailored suit,” says Barber. “It’s a timeless and classic bottle that looks good on every table. If you show up to a holiday event with this bottle, you will walk into the party looking pretty sharp.”
4. Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Napa Valley, California; $209
Selected by John Stanley, owner, Stanley’s Wet Goods, Culver City, California
Since opening Stanley’s Wet Goods in Culver City, John Stanley has primarily focused on stocking shelves with wines that fit into the store’s small production focus. “We are always excited to sell classic wines by producers who emphasize great farming and simple winemaking,” says Stanley, noting it’s one of the key reasons why he encourages customers to try Cabernet Sauvignon by Mayacamas Vineyards at the holidays year after year.
A Napa Valley icon, Mayacamas produces its Cabernet Sauvignon with organically farmed fruit from high-elevation vineyards blanketed with various soil types. The diverse micro-climates help create a wine that displays a range of flavor profiles and nuance that doesn’t require much manipulation in the cellar. “Mayacamas’ commitment to farming is unparalleled in Napa Valley, and our customers appreciate the intention behind the purity of the wine,” says Stanley. “So we are always excited to get them in the hands of a gift-giver or someone hosting during the holidays because we know they will be well received and enjoyed.”
5. Arianna Occhipinti ‘SP68’ Rosso 2022, Sicily, Italy; $36
Selected by Jill Bernheimer, owner, Domaine LA, Los Angeles
When Jill Bernheimer first opened the doors of Domaine LA in 2009, she simply wanted to sell honest wine—wine that was made for people by people. The shop has inevitably frayed from selling bottles manufactured by corporations, and customers have come to depend on Bernheimer and her staff’s recommendations of family-owned wines with a sense of place. So it’s no wonder why Bernhiemer is excited to spread the gospel of Arianna Occhipinti’s SP68, a wine inspired by a famous state road in Fossa di Lupo, where the reddish, sandy, and chalky soils overlook the Iblean Mountains in Sicily.
A blend of Frapptto and Nero d’Avola, Bernheimer says the SP68 has a youthful liveliness to accommodate a variety of tastes and preferences surrounding the dinner table during the holidays. “This is a great wine to serve or gift when you don’t know everyone’s palate because it’s so likable to a range of people without being generic,” says Bernheimer.
6. Domaine des Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly 2021, Beaujolais, France; $24
Selected by David Armin-Parcells, co-owner, Motor City Wine, Detroit
Beaujolais at the holidays may have gained somewhat of a clichéd reputation. Still, David Armin-Parcells doesn’t let that negate his continuous support of light and crushable red wines from the French region. With the arrival of the holiday season, Armin-Parcells says Motor City Wine customers can always count on recommended bottles from the area at a range of price points.
Armin-Parcells’ must-stock bottle from Beaujolais this year? Jean-Paul Brun’s Domaine des Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly—a wine Armin-Parcel says is “light-bodied with assertive acidity that makes it a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving in particular. This wine shows amazing balance with food-friendly acidity and some crunchy tannins. [It’s] great with food, but an easy pick for a holiday cocktail party as well.”
7. Peter Lauer Saar Riesling Sekt Brut 2017, Mosel, Germany; $38
Selected by Holly Dierker, sommelier, Mondo Vino, Denver
At Denver’s Mondo Vino, store sommelier Holly Dierker says she encounters a plethora of people who don’t tend to shop for wine outside of the holiday season. So, the retail shop uses the moment to educate folks and “introduce new experiences that will bring them back” in the new year. The bottle Dierker says will lure customers back to Mondo Vino after celebrations are long over is a traditional-method sparkling Riesling from Germany’s renowned Mosel region—more specifically, a bottle from celebrated producer Peter Lauer.
“I think that people are finally starting to understand that all Rieslings aren’t sweet,” says Dierker, noting that once consumers understand the many styles of Riesling, sparkling wine versions gain greater appeal. German Sekt is also approachable price-wise, Dierker points out, adding that it’s important to give shoppers a range of options to celebrate the season regardless of how much they plan to spend. “I’m excited to show this as a valuable alternative to Champagne that drinks just as well. Holidays are a great time to celebrate with bubbles, and people shouldn’t have to break the bank to enjoy that.”
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Janice Williams is a New York City-based freelance writer covering wine and spirits. Certified WSET Level II, her work has been featured in print and online publications, including Newsweek, Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Uproxx, and Thrillist, among others. You can follow her work on Instagram @browngirldrinkswine and website janicewilliams.net.