Nothing like the holidays to sample some fine wines ...
Domaine de Cantemerle Grains de Terroir 2003 Bordeaux (France) - I don't know the first thing about Bordeaux, so I wouldn't know if this is considered good, bad or sewage by the fine folks at Wine Spectator, but you know me, I'm willing to try anything. And I like this one. Light plum colour with a bit of rust to it, moderately translucent. Extremely subtle berries on the nose -- if you can say that it has any nose at all. Medium tannins, complex flavours of strawberries with stems, minerals and pepper, and a bunch of other stuff I couldn't quite place. (That's why it's "complex" - it means the snob drinking it can't figure out what the heck's going on, but they want to save face.) Tannic, dry finish.
Nederberg 2006 Shiraz (Western Cape, South Africa) - deep plum colour, slightly opaque. Strong aromas of alcohol and maraschino cherries. Cherry again on the palate (think chocolate-covered variety with the sugary syrup in the middle). High tannins; long, black-cherry-and-pepper finish.
I hosted a tasting for one for both of these (read: drinking alone with a juice glass as my vessel), prior to a Boxing Day buffet of leftover ham, tourtiere and turkey. The Bordeaux went well with all of the above; the shiraz I'd keep for another day, maybe with a big hunk of peppery beef.
Said buffet was topped off with a couple off-the-wall, exhausting rounds of Pictionary and a glass of Royal deMaria 2004 Riesling Icewine (Niagara, Ontario). Let it be said that, when hubby and I were noobs to the wine world, I brought a bottle of icewine to my future in-laws in an effort to impress (I only wish I'd tried it first.) The cloying, noxious glop was enough to turn the entire table off icewine forever. However, we eventually learned to enjoy good icewine and to avoid bad icewine (I have to give that credit to Derek Barnett .)
This one was pale yellow, clear and watery. Nose of apricot and clover honey that followed through on the palate, accompanied by fragrant notes of pear. The medium-high acid is what keeps it from tasting like you just downed a cup of corn syrup; this has all the fruit and tang of an off-dry Riesling, with just a bit more ooomph in the sweet department. Extremely well balanced and a definite favourite. You can pair it with dessert, but I'd much rather give it the credit it's due and drink it alone.
PS - Hubby surprised me with some great wine/food reads for Christmas: Will Write for Food by Diane Jacob; Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain; and 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO by Rod Phillips. Can't wait to get into them - keep you posted. If you've read them, please e-me or comment with your thoughts (without spoiling the ending!)