The Wine Cellar: 3 tips for graduation party wine picks
The end of May brings graduations aplenty. Graduations, of course, bring festive parties at every turn. And every fun party must offer tasty libations. With graduation party wines, following a few simple tips makes it easy.
First, the wines must be convenient to open and serve. That means avoiding the fuss of cork screws if possible. Pick wines in screw cap bottles and, yes, even pop-top cans. If you’re skeptical, just remember the type of packaging does not dictate the quality of the wine.
Which leads to the second tip. Select well-made wines of good quality. They should be well balanced with neither excessively sweet nor concentrated with too much oak. Easy drinking, well-balanced wines with good freshness and fruitiness pair best with typical graduation party foods such as cheese and meat trays, pasta salads, burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, fruit salad and so on.
Third, choose wines of terrific value. Many producers put their wines on sale during this season. So it’s just a matter of finding the best deals.
Finally, graduation party wines should be fun and eye-catching. Think of attractive labels and whimsical names on well-made, delicious wines.
Try the following:
The packaging on the Frico by Scarpetto, Lambrusco, IGT Emilia Rosso Frizzante, Italy (Luxury 76563; $13.99 for 1.1 liters) certainly generates curiosity. The wine comes in a small cardboard box depicting a large pig, a symbol of the region of Emilia-Romagna’s marvelous Prosciutto di Parma hams. Inside the box are four metallic silver and burgundy cans with each holding 275 milliliters of wine (i.e., about 9.3 ounces). Each has an easy-opening pop top.
The wine itself has a deep purple color with enticing plum and raspberry aromas. In the glass — or straight from the can — frothy bubbles unfold with juicy red and black fruit flavors. The finish carries soft tannins, just a hint of sweetness and only 9.5% alcohol by volume. Serve slightly chilled. Highly Recommended.
The 2017 Mezzacorona, Pinot Grigio, Trentino, Italy (6444; $9.99) offers a crisp, food-friendly white wine from northern Italy. A cooperative with more than 1,600 winegrowers make the wine from estate-grown, hand-picked grapes. The vineyards lie in the Adige River Valley’s splendid natural beauty framed by the Italian Alps. This wine’s eye-catching label artwork evokes the scene by depicting grapes hanging from pergola frames against a background of the blue river and sheer mountain peaks.
The wine unfolds apple and honeysuckle aromas opening to ripe citrus and apple flavors. Bright acidity and creamy notes balance the soft, crisp finish. Screw cap closure and 12.5% alcohol by volume. Recommended.
The 2017 La Vieille Ferme Rosé, Vin de France, France (2266; On sale: $8.49) comes with a screw cap closure and a fanciful label depicting a rooster and hen from the “Old Farm.” The wine comes from cinsualt, grenache and syrah grapes grown in the southern Rhône Valley during a sunny, dry vintage. The juice was “bled” off the red-skinned grapes for a light salmon color and then fermented in stainless steel tanks to capture freshness. The nose offers delicate red berry and floral aromas. Fresh, fruity flavors follow with round concentration and a soft, uplifting finish. It’s an easy drinking rosé that tastes great with all manner of party fare. Highly Recommended.
With grilled hamburgers, try the 2017 Dominio de Punctum, Lobetia, Tempranillo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain (1570; On sale: $7.99) with a screw cap closure. Spain’s Fernández family grows Tempranillo grapes in a “traditional” organic method, free from synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. The resulting high-quality grapes yield an easy drinking red with ripe plum and blackberry aromas unaffected by oak notes. Pure dark fruity flavors balance with terrific freshness and soft tannins. Recommended.
The 2016 Maison Jean Loron, “Beau!” Beaujolais, France (Luxury 74847; $13.99) provides a juicy, uplifting red from veteran growers, Xavier and Gregory Barbet. They use hand-harvested whole clusters of gamay grapes that ferment in closed tanks with indigenous yeasts to maximize fruitiness. The wine’s purple color offers raspberry and light, brambly aromas. Juicy red-fruit flavors balance with refreshing acidity and mouthwatering mineral notes through the dry, fruity finish. The screw cap closure and eye-catching, fun label are a plus. Highly Recommended.