3 Top Sommeliers Share What They Are Sipping For The Holidays

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Whether you’re opening a bottle of Kosta Browne Pinot Noir to enjoy with Christmas Eve dinner, stirring up mezcal old-fashioneds for a Hanukkah cocktail party, or toasting with Dom Perignon on New Year’s Eve, the holidays are all about imbibing. However, knowing what to pour can be tricky. Plus, selecting the perfect spirit to impress your scotch-loving brother-in-law on Christmas can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are plenty of beverage professionals in San Francisco. We’ve turned to some of our favorite sommeliers from iconic establishments like chef Dominique Crenn’s newest hot spot, Bar Crenn, to get the 411 on what you should be drinking this holiday season. Here’s what the wine folk recommend.

Matthew Dulle
Matthew Dulle

Photo Credit: Steven Petersen

Matthew Dulle
Job title: Beverage director at Lazy Bear
Favorite holiday beverage: I’m always a sucker for eggnog. It’s a very communal drink, in a way. It’s too much of a pain in the ass to make it for one or two people, so you always make a large amount. Point being, you’re usually sharing it. It’s festive, and it has the added benefit of being something you don’t drink the rest of the year. If you don’t want to share, you can portion that large batch into mason jars. They store and stack easily. Plus, you can pull a jar out of the fridge, shake it, and drink it.
Hostess gift recommendation: I like to bring dessert wine. Nobody ever thinks to buy it for themselves, but when you open a bottle, it’s always a great story. You’re sharing it with a good-sized group of people (even a half bottle of sweet wine can cover six people or more). Plus, they’ll always remember who gave it to them. It’s an excellent way to provide an experience rather than just a thing.

Lazy Bear
Lazy Bear

Photo Credit: Kassie Borreson

On his wishlist: There are very few things sexier than exquisite glassware. It adds the element of touch to what is best enjoyed as a full-sensory experience. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Sophienwald glassware from Austria. They’re similar to Zalto, but they are slightly more approachable price-wise and are relatively more durable—which is especially useful when you don’t have a polisher on staff.
Happening for the holidays: Pretty much everything we do at Lazy Bear is both seasonal and nostalgic, and those are two words that perfectly sum up the allure of the holiday season. You’ll likely see our play on some classics that showcase what we do without straying too far from the classic. You’ll see some eggnog and a Hot Buttered Rum that incorporates our house butter that we’ve been culturing for over six years. And, if that’s not your thing, we always have plenty of Champagne.

Mark Bright
Mark Bright

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

Mark Bright
Job title: Partner and wine director at Saison Hospitality
Favorite holiday beverage: I personally love Champagne from Frederic Savart, Ulysse Collin or Krug. Anything Krug is always preferred.

Saison
Saison

Photo Credit: Bonjwing LeeHostess gift recommendation: It depends on who I am seeing. If it is other wine friends, I will bring Champagne, and if it is my family, then I will bring whisky— usually Yamazaki Japanese Whisky.  
On his wishlist: I could use a new Champagne saber, as mine is pretty knocked up.
Happening for the holidays: Saison’s cocktail program is seasonal, so it is always evolving. We are offering a Special Louis Xlll dinner experience that allows our guests to go home with a full-size decanter personalized with their name etched in and a mini-bottle, also Baccarat. It is one of the cutest little bottles out there.

Courtney Olson
Courtney Olson

Photo Credit: Crenn Dining Group

Courtney Olson
Job title: Beverage director at Crenn Dining Group
Favorite holiday beverage: Is it wrong that my answers for each of these questions are Champagne?! Ok, this one is Rosé Champagne. For a go-to holiday treat (indeed a treat if you can find it) Vouette & Sorbée Rosé de Saignée. With a vibrant, deep coppery hue that draws you in and a smoky berry and flinty nose, this extra-brut has a well-balanced length with concentration and depth on the palate. While fascinating alone, it is spectacular with slow-roasted lobster mushroom risotto.

Bar Crenn
Bar Crenn

Photo Credit: Crenn Dining Group

Hostess gift recommendation:  Bouzy! Champagne from Pierre Paillard, located in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy, is notable for its power and structure. Paillard blends a bit of Chardonnay which brings a racy lift to the richness of the Pinot Noir.
On her wishlist: A set of Dorothy Thorpe mid-century cocktail stems. A glassware designer, not manufacturer Dorothy created timeless collectibles whose vessels make juice a joy to drink from.
Happening for the holidays:  At Bar Crenn, I’ve created a low-fi cocktail called the Buddha’s Cider. Inspired from Chef Crenn’s northern French roots and her influence across the menus from her time spent in Asia, this combines Eric Bordelet’s Authentique cider from Normandy, LeMorton Pommeau de Normandie (Calvados’-lighter cousin), and a spice-infused oolong tea from Taiwan called Buddha’s Hand. A sessionable quaffer so that you can hit all the holiday parties.


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