Unique ways to use fine wine to enhance the holidays

(BPT) - No matter if you're celebrating a holiday or another seasonal occasion, a glass of fine wine is the traditional way to toast all the good things in life. With more than 4.25 billion bottles purchased by Americans just last year — followed closely by 3.6 billion by France and 3 billion by Italy — wine is broadly appealing and provides endless ways to enhance affairs big and small.

"The holiday season is an exceptional time of year marked by heartfelt memories and hope for the future, and wine has been a part of celebrations around the world for thousands of years," said Jamie Ritchie, head of Sotheby’s global wine business. "Today, wine can be used in many unique ways to craft events and spark joy."

If you want guidance for incorporating fine wine into your celebratory season, Ritchie recommends using The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia as your guide. Fully updated and revised, this comprehensive book will become a resource you can access over and over again, not to mention the stunning photography makes it a beautiful addition to any coffee table or book shelf.

"Beautifully illustrated with more than 400 stunning images and 100 brand-new National Geographic maps, this stunning new edition is appreciated by amateurs and enophiles alike," said Ritchie. "You can learn about more than 14,000 red, white and rose wine recommendations hand-picked from more than 100 wine-growing regions."

With comprehensive information on a variety of topics, from historical insights and wine making to tasting tips and pairing suggestions, you'll be able to customize any type of celebration. Ritchie shares some favorite ideas inspired by the book:

Explore pairings

A crimson red, a crisp white or a beautiful rose — explore new varieties and enjoy experiencing new flavors. Whether you want to elevate an elegant multi-course meal or enhance appetizers or even holiday desserts, consider wine parings to complement the foods being served. In general, the more delicate the food flavors, the more delicate the wine should be. Similarly, rich foods with deep flavor pairs well with richer wines.

For example, Champagne is a naturally festive drink for myriad celebrations, pairing nicely with many foods, including seafood, salads, fish, roast, ham and caviar. For rich, meaty main dishes, consider the layered flavors. Lamb pairs well with pinot noir and beef with cabernet sauvignon, for example. Even that amazing creme brulee you're serving for dessert is made more divine with the right wine, such as an Australian Liqueur Muscat.

Celebratory themes

Selecting a theme can define an event and make a gathering distinctive. Let fine wine help direct the theme so you can create a memorable occasion enjoyed by all. For example, choose a time period and select related food, wine and decorations. Maybe the roaring '20s or rockin' '60s would be a fun way to celebrate with friends and family? If you'd like people to dress the part, you can even request period-inspired attire.

You can also let wine from different countries or regions influence your theme. If you have a French heritage, you could create an elegant event featuring French cuisine, pastries and wine. Or, create a German holiday gathering that gives a nod to the old country, decking your space in traditional decor and toasting using German wine.

Gifts and experiences

Making the holidays special often includes a blend of memorable moments and thoughtful gifts, and wine can support both. When hosting guests, consider creating a staycation feeling by selecting wines from certain locales. If you prefer to get out and about, consider a day trip to a local winery with loved ones. Wineries are often decorated beautifully during the holiday season for a magical mini escape.

Gifting is also made simpler with wine. Personalize to the individual's tastes or select a variety of bottles to help them build their collection. You could also add in wine accessories such as decanters, carafes, electric aerators or wine preservation tools. Of course, a set of fine wine glasses alongside a bottle is a classic gift. Add in The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia and you have a gift guaranteed to bring good cheer.

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