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Let’s raise a glass to end the year

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

The upcoming holidays, Christmas on Thursday and New Year’s just a week later, means you’ll be having a lot of special meals. You may be going to parties or maybe just  sitting in front of your Christmas tree, watching the lights twinkle.

This is a prime time for wine. It makes an appropriate gift, it’s a nice accompaniment to fancy meals and it makes chocolate desserts taste more decadent.

Here are suggestions form the area’s wineries and Salisbury Wine Shop.

Cauble Creek, at 700 Cauble Farm Road in Salisbury, off N.C. 150, is open Friday-Sunday, so it might make a good stop before New Year’s. Their wine is also available at Salisbury Wine Shop, The Enchanted Olive in Mooresville and The Wine Room at Afton Village in Concord.

Anita Yost, co-owner with husband Biff, has plenty of ideas.

“We have a holiday white and a holiday red,” Yost says. “The white is a blend of the Carlos and Doreen muscadine grapes. The red is the Noble grape. Both of them are semi-sweet and have good texture. They aren’t super sweet.” Either can be used for hot mulled wine, as well. “It makes it very festive,” Yost says.

For a gift of wine or to take to a party, she suggests semi-dry muscadines. “They’re not overpoweringly sweet, they’re just dry enough to be middle of the road, drinkers of sweeter wines find it appealing and even people who prefer dry wines have enjoyed it.”

For a meal or a cocktail party, Yost suggests cabernet, a dry wed wine that is full bodied and has a rich flavor that is good with a meal or hors d’oeuvres.

For New Year’s Eve, she says a semi-dry muscadine, like their popular Phyllis Ann, a white wine, or a red named Otho Lin is good. The Yosts name their wines after family members. Otho was Biff’s grandfather and Lin is Anita’s father.

At Morgan Ridge, 484 John Morgan Road, off Stokes Ferry Road, you’ll find wine and beer. the beer menu changes frequently, as owner Tommy Baudoin makes small batches.

The Vineyards and Brewhouse will be open today and Wednesday, closing at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, then reopening the day after Christmas.

Amie Baudoin says for Christmas dinner, they have a crown roast or a tenderloin, and a turkey. They enjoy chambourcin with dinner.

“A wine gift is always good,” Amie says. “What we suggest here is our 2012 chambourcin. It’s a middle-of-the road red, good for even non-dry red wine drinkers. It would work with turkey or beef or pork.”

The chardonnay, she says, is ideal for a meet-and-greet with family. “It goes well with cheese balls and cream cheese dishes.”

Morgan Ridge just released its 2011 cabernet sauvignon. “A lot of people are enjoying that. And we just released our Trilogy blend.” Trilogy is a blend of a barrel of 2011 cabernet sauvignon, a barrel of 2012 merlot and a special barrel of red that Tommy has been nursing in the barrel room. It’s $60 a bottle, and Amie says “we’ve had no trouble moving it. People want a special gift.”

For New Year’s, Amie says their blush wine, which is a little sweet, goes well with things like pecan tarts or other sweet bites. Their dry pink wine, white syrah, is good for people who don’t enjoy sweet wine.

Old Stone Winery, at 6245 U.S. 52, offers wines ranging from sweet muscadine to fruit wines to dry wines such as merlot. They have a Christmas wine, a slightly sweet red muscadine with cinnamon and holiday spices. Naomi Griffin, co-owner with husband Darin, says it’s good chilled or warmed like a mulled wine. They are already nearly sold out.

For New Year’s, Griffin suggests a barrel-fermented chardonnay. The time in the barrel usually gives the white wine a buttery flavor.

Griffin says the muscadines they make are sweet enough that they don’t make a dessert wine, but they have Sweet Velvet, a blend of muscadine and cabernet sauvignon that is a great wine for dessert. She said sweet wines are more popular with people in Salisbury.

Their wines are available at the tasting room, and are sold at some Food Lion and Harris Teeter stores.

Julia Kiger, who handles marketing for Childress Vineyards in Lexington, says,  “A good set to have is the Three white and the Three red. … Both are blends. The white is chardonnay, viognier and pinot gris. It pairs well with shrimp cocktail, with vegetables and salad. The Three red is cabernet franc, merlot and malbec. It’s good for grilled meats and pasta dishes. Both have a touch of sweetness, although they are dry wines. Three is great wine to try to keep a group of people satisfied.

For a gift, she suggests something unique, “maybe a dessert wine. … We have a new port-style dessert wine, a cabernet sauvignon called Finish Line, a fortified wine with brandy. It’s something people would bring out when celebrating. It’s very smooth, not overpowering sweet and great.” It pairs well with chocolate cake or drink it itself. It’s a nice way to finish.”

To celebrate New Year’s, Kiger suggests Victory Cuvee, 100 percent chardonnay blanc du blanc sparkling wine. It’s fairly dry, a brut, and it has very smooth, creamy notes of bartlett pears and granny smith apples.

The winery is closed Christmas day, open till 3 p.m. on Christmas eve and New Year’s Eve. Childress wines are available at Walmart, Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods and some Food Lions.

At Salisbury Wine Shop, co-owner Stephanie Potter has lots of selection and lots of suggestions, and prices from very affordable to very special gift.

She says a gewurtztraminer, a slightly fruity white wine, is “so friendly with food, especially spicy foods.” A French or California sauvignon blanc is nice, as well as a burgundian-style chardonnay that has not been in oak barrels for long.

California has some nice reds, especially cabernet sauvignon, and the French Bordeaux is a red wine that goes with any meat.

For seafood, an Italian tradition on Christmas Eve, a pinot grigio is a good white, or a super Tuscan, which is a red blend with sangiovese.

To finish off an evening, a glass of ruby or tawny port is always a treat. “You can have it as a stand-alone, or with cheese and nuts or chocolate.”

For celebrating New Year’s, there are many sparkling choices, and one she sells a lot of is a Cava, a sparkling white wine from Spain. Proseco, a sparkling Italian wine, is also something a little different. And there’s always champagne.

Cheers!

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