Wine Advice for the Holidays!

Wine Director Richard Kelsey shares what you should be drinking and why you shouldn't have a favorite...

Richard has been Salt & Iron's Wine Director for nearly a year and before that he held the same role at Ray's Boathouse for five and half years. With 20+ years of industry experience, Richard really knows his wines and relishes in the sharing of his expertise. Below is a quick holiday users guide to wines. Enjoy!

Q: What is your personal theory on wine?

Richard: "Wine was/is created to give us pleasure. Its potential recurring beauty is expressed while doing so. To fully appreciate its amazing range of opportunities requires rejecting the notion of becoming stuck-in-the-muck of obsessive loyalties to specific regions and producers. Filling (your) basement with allocated cases of producer wine club releases is excellent news for the producer, but does little to expand ones appreciation of the unique expressions found within every wine the world has made available to us. That being said, becoming involved with wine clubs operated by a good wine shop is an excellent way of discovering new stuff. Arista in Edmonds and Portalis, in North Seattle, are each excellent Wine Club options.

Q: Can you tell us about how you've set up Salt & Iron's wine list?

Richard: "The S&I wine list is structured to offer our guests the opportunity of discovering new and interesting wines - rather than one focused on the familiar and routine. I've long believed that one of the two reasons we dine out is to experience a break from life's routine rhythms. A new wine experience can be instrumental in creating a fresh new dining beat. The second reason is the intimacy of sharing a bit of fresh space and life with friends, acquaintances, even strangers. At least that's what I think."

Q: What should we be drinking this holiday season?

Richard: "Given the typical family-affected nature of holiday meals, there really isn't one wine that the entire gang will be happy with - but that doesn't matter! The important thing is that everyone has fun. So rather than stressing over the impossible task of choosing the perfect wine, maybe kick around the idea of selecting two or three tasty and easy-to-like alternative bottles instead. My suggestions:

  • A Cru Beaujolais is an excellent red alternative to the pricier and likely more challenging tasting profile of Pinot Noir. JulienasMoulin-a-Vent, and Fleurie are among my favorite Cru's, but really, any of the Cru's would certainly make everyone feeling red very happy. [Note: we stock a beautiful and price-friendly 2013 Juliénas-Beaujolais for $36/bottle]
  • Sicilian Nero d'Avola is also very much an anyone's red. 
  • Another good option would be Rosé. Rosé is a versatile and much-too-often under appreciated food wine. Delicious and inexpensive options from France, especially Provence, are easy to find. [Note: we carry a Sparkling Rosé--Cleto Chiarli “Brut Lambrusco” from Italy for $10/glass and $39/bottle--as well as a 2014 Rosé Petit Rimauresq from France for $9/glass and $33/bottle]              
  • Slam dunk whites such as Loire Valley or South African Chenin BlancAlsatian Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc; German, Austrian, Washington and New York Rieslings; and the Chardonnays of Chablis and Macon-Burgundy would all likely make even Aunt "the Scolder" Bertha happy! Ummm, if not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with running out to grab a bottle or two of the 18% alcohol Cabernet Sauvignon's she may wind up screaming for. I mean, it is 'the time of giving!' Right?

Come in soon to taste all the flavors we love...Cheers!

Written by Michael Dempsey, Contributing Writer