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Holiday Food & Wine Pairing Ideas

It’s that time of the year again when food begins to take center stage in family gatherings and parties.  While most of us purchase the wines ahead of time based on what we think our guests will want, it’s worth the thought and effort to provide wines that will complement at least one aspect of the meal, be it the hors d’oeuvres, main course or dessert.  I’ve listed some common holiday fare below, along with the wines that will pair best with each dish.  These wines are currently available at Jax, and if you’re preparing something that isn’t mentioned below then please feel free to stop by and ask one of our resident wine experts which wines we would recommend for pairing.

NV Locations “E”

F Locations wine“The question is – do you break the rules, and thousands of years of history and tradition, in pursuit of expressing freedom?  We believe so. Welcome to Locations.”

NV Locations “F”

I had the pleasure recently to taste through three of five “Locations” wines crafted by famed winemaker Dave Phinney.  I did so during an interactive online webinar while Dave explained how Locations wines came to be, and how the various locations he sourced from were chosen. P (Portugal) wine bottle

I won’t get too much into mergers & acquisitions, but I will say that Dave Phinney rose to fame after he established Orin Swift Cellars in 1998 and began producing popular Napa Valley-based wines such as The Prisoner, Mercury Head, Machete, Palermo, and Papillon.  In recent years, he sold The Prisoner & Saldo brands to Huneeus Vintners (owners of Quintessa), and later Orin Swift Cellars to wine giant E. & J. Gallo.  He has since stayed on at the helm of wine production with both companies, while also retaining D66 (an Old Vine Grenache from Languedoc-Roussillion) and a value-driven portfolio of wines from various locations around the world, simply named “Locations.”

A Great Chilean Line-Up from Santa Carolina


My colleagues and I recently tasted some fantastic wines from Chile that we unanimously decided to bring on board at Jax.  We tasted through a flight of about ten different wines and were able to narrow our selection down to four great values from the “Reserva” line of the Santa Carolina portfolio. Jax-Spirits-Santa-Carolina-Image

The 2015 Santa Carolina “Leyda Estate” Chardonnay was my personal favorite, featuring a rounded but fruit-forward palate of Gala apple and Bosc pear.  The wine is clean and direct and finishes on a smoky note.  This wine is sure to be a crowd pleaser at your next summer BBQ.

For those who love a classic New World Sauvignon Blanc, the 2016 “Leyda Estate” from Santa Carolina will push all the right grassy and citrusy buttons that you long for.  The wine is tart and reminiscent of a Marlborough New Zealand expression.  This wine is for the true Sauvignon Blanc lover and will pair well with lighter, warm-weather fare such as shellfish, green salads, and goat cheese.

My favorite red that we choose is the 2016 “Leyda Estate” Pinot Noir.  This wine is incredibly balanced for a Pinot Noir in this price range, offering bright cherry and red plum flavors amidst earthy notes and baking spices.  Subtle tannins round out the fleshy palate with a hint of sweetness that differentiates the wine from a dry, Old-World style pinot. 

Seven Reasons To Love Rose Right Now

It’s finally here! May is Rose’ Month at Jax, and we have some awesome bottles that are 20% off for the entire month.  I would like now to list all of the reasons why you should stop by and pick up a bottle while they’re priced so well. In no particular order… wine rose bottle for sale

  1. Rose Pairs Well With Food. Wine and food are obvious life partners, but rose’ pairs with a wider variety of foods than most whites or reds.  It’s important to take into account the style of rose’ when deciding what it will pair well with.  Light and dry roses are better suited for light salads and pasta dishes, seafood, and mild & tangy cheeses like goat.  Medium to full-bodied, fruity roses can stand up to bigger dishes like grilled chicken, barbeque, and stronger cheeses like brie and blue.  For an off-dry style of rose (something that’s a little sweeter), try it with spicy Asian cuisine. Perfect!


  1. Rose Is A Crowd Pleaser. Both red and white wine drinkers can learn to love this wine. It’s fruity enough for a red wine lover and light enough for the white wine team.


  1. Rose Is Trendy Again. Gone are the days of the White Zinfandel-craze.  Less people are associating the word “rose” with a sweet jug wine and more are beginning to understand how special and delicious that drier roses can be.

2014 David Bruce Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

This is a good time of the year for Pinot Noir.  What, with the weather being in a constant state of having an identity crisis, and some sort of Sunday holiday every other weekend, I never really know whether to open a big and chewy red or grab a light and interesting white from the ‘fridge.  Pinot is fruity enough to satisfy the red-wine-lover in me, yet light enough that I won’t suffer from heat exhaustion while sipping wine on the front of my parent’s houseboat. 2014 David Bruce Russian River Valley

I know that I recently reviewed a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that Jax carries.  I’m on a Pinot binge this month (for the aforementioned reasons), and in my own defense, the 2014 David Bruce Pinot from Russian River Valley is quite different than the Kenwood.  It’s of a higher quality because it’s a smaller production wine produced from hand-picked estate fruit.

David Bruce winery was established in 1964 and is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Nine out of 16 acres of the estate are planted with Pinot Noir, with the rest devoted to Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.  The winemakers employ custom-designed methods of handling their Pinot Noir, which is a delicate grape that demands extra tender-loving care.  Pneumatic punch-down tools and rotary fermenters are used to replicate the gradual crushing effects of foot crushing, a technique that has been used in the past at this winery. Cool.

Rose Spotlight: 2016 Dundee Hills Sokol Blosser Estate Rose of Pinot Noir

Rose season is upon us, and Jax will be featuring Rose specials throughout the month of May.  I would like to now highlight one that I tried recently which has stood out to me.

The 2016 Sokol Blosser Estate Rose’ is produced from 100% Pinot Noir grapes that are organically grown in two different plots on the estate.  The grapes were hand-harvested & de-stemmed before the juice was soaked on the skins for six hours in order to extract a perfect Watermelon-Jolly-Rancher color.  The fermentation to follow was done at cool temperatures over an extended amount of time to preserve the vibrant fruitiness of the wine. 2016 Dunbee Hills Sokol Blosser Bottle

Sokol Blosser Winery has been producing wine in Oregon’s Dundee Hills since 1977.  This family-owned and operated business has since maintained an impressive portfolio of organically-produced, estate-grown wines.  In 2011, a new line of unique Pinot-Noir-based blends was introduced, called Evolution.  I have tried the red and was impressed with the quality and balance in the wine.

2012 Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris

As the Easter Holiday Weekend is upon us, people are starting to look for that perfect special wine to pair with their spiral ham.  I could write a whole separate post on ham preparation and why one should be selective when choosing which swine to throw on the table, but I will say for now only to be mindful of the nitrite/nitrate content of most prepared hams and how this will ultimately affect your wine-pairing experience. 2012 trimbach reserve pinot

If you are going to buy the typical sweet & salty honey-baked ham, perhaps with a hundred cloves pressed into it, I would recommend choosing a simple and slightly sweet white or light red wine. Don’t spend a fortune on this wine as the nuances of the fruit are likely to be lost in the overpowering salt saturation of the ham.

For those of you who will be curing your own ham, or purchasing one that has been naturally cured without added preservatives, I think it’s a safe bet to step up the quality of the wine that you will pair with this.  The 2012 Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris is just the right amount of slight-sweetness, acid, and bold fruit to stand up to such a ham.

2014 Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County is an ideal area for growing Pinot Noir.  The Russian River provides a channel for the cool Pacific Ocean fog to move inland from the coast.  Good quality pinots from this area are robust, fruit-forward, and more full-bodied than their Oregon counterparts. kenwood-russian-river-valley-pinot

Because Pinot Noir is such a finicky and hard to grow grape, and because the Russian River Valley is prime real estate for winemakers alike, it’s hard to find a good Pinot Noir from this area for under $20. I have found one in the 2014 Kenwood Vineyards offering.

The wine has a subtle nose of strawberries, vanilla, and Earth.  The wine is smooth and easy on the palate, offering dried cherries, toasted oak from twelve months of French oak aging, and hints of nutmeg complemented by a balancing acidity.  The finish is smooth and easy.  This is a very approachable Pinot Noir, and one that I would definitely recommend serving to dinner guests.  It will please both the California Pinot lover as well as the lighter, dryer Oregon Pinot fans.