Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

A wine for every holiday taste

I’m really looking forward to this Holiday Season! Many of us have suffered and all of us have had to hunker down and endure a year unlike any other. And one of the ways I plan on enjoying the spirit (s) of the season is to give a gift of wine to family and friends as we celebrate Christmas and the New Year, and as we look forward to a much better 2021.

One of the greatest attributes of wine is the almost limitless variety of grapes from vineyards around the world that produce bottles with an incredible diversity of aromas and flavors to please the palates of just about everyone. Whether you’re just an occasional sipper, someone who drinks a glass or two each day or a wine-obsessed individual, you’re probably always on the lookout for a good bottle, especially this time of year.

With that premise in mind, I’m going to suggest several bottles of wine you might consider giving to family or friends that fall into the classifications I mentioned above. I’ll suggest red, white and sparkling wines for each of the groups so you’ll have a variety of purchasing choices and prices. And keep this snarky thought in mind: giving the gift of wine, particularly to someone close to you, can have an ancillary benefit since there is a chance you’ll be invited to sip along once that particular bottle is uncorked.


For the occasional sippers: White: Martin Codax Albarino (Spain); Anselmi San Vincenzo (Italian, Soave-like); and Hess Select Monterey Chardonnay (California). Red: Allegrini Valpolicella Classico (Italy); Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (California); Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir (Oregon); and Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel (California); Sparkling: Chandon Brut (California); Nicholas Feuillatte Blue Label Champagne (France); and Dibon Cava Brut (Spain).

For the daily wine drinker: White: Chalk Hill Chardonnay (California): Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (Australia); and Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc (France); Red: Easton Amador County Zinfandel (California); Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (California); Torbreck The Woodcutter’s Shiraz (Australia); and Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape (France). Sparkling: Iron Horse Brut (California); Segura Viudas Reserva (Spain); and Veuve Cliquot (The Widow) Brut Champagne (France).

For the wine-obsessed: White: Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay (California); Joseph Drouhin Puligny Monrachet Premier Cru (France); and Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Mosel Riesling (Germany). Red: Chateau Lynch-Bages (Bordeaux); Chappellet Prichard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa); Altesino Montosoli Brunello di Montalcino (Italy); and Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve Pinot Noir (Oregon). Sparkling: Krug Grande Cuvee Brut Champagne (France); Taittinger Comptes De Champagne Rose’ (France); and Roderer Estate Brut (California).

Most of the wines listed above are available locally, but you may need to order a few of them online. As I approach the Holiday Season and the New Year, I do so with a sense of hope, anticipation and optimism: hope that we can see light at the end of the Covid tunnel; anticipation that 2021 will restore us to some sense of normalcy; and optimism that we will be free once again to roam the planet and experience the gift of human interaction without constraints.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!

John Brown is also a novelist. His latest book is “Augie’s World” which is a sequel to his debut novel, Augie’s War. You can find out more about his novels at


Wine for everyday meals
Thanksgiving 2020: Scaling back, but still celebra...