As a renowned sommelier and managing partner at upcoming restaurant laV, we asked Vilma Mazaite to share some fabulous recommendations for wines this holiday season. From dinner pairings to family gifts, Vilma filled us in on the best wines for celebrating with family and friends.
Many people get so caught up in preparing the holiday dinner that wine pairing becomes an afterthought. For Vilma, holiday dinner is defined by hearty dishes and warming up with a glass of great red wine, such as burgundy or northern Rhône syrah based wines. These wines are lighter and acid driven, pairing wonderfully with an array of dishes. To find the best deal, Vilma recommends trying bourgogne level burgundy from the best producer, which means amazing quality for an even greater price. Domaine Roulot Monthélie, Coche-Dury, and Hubert Lignier all offer entry level wines with quality that will easily exceed your expectations. For a good Rhône try Jamet Côte-Rôtie or Thierry Allemand Cornas to impress your guests.
Choosing the proper wine for holiday gifts can be tricky as well. Because everyone has different tastes, it is better to stay as neutral as possible unless you know specifically what your family/friend prefers. Vilma suggests gifting wine that you love to drink or one that has a story. For a friend's Thanksgiving dinner last year, Vilma gifted a bottle of Hoffstater Shiava from the Alto Adige region of Italy where she had recently traveled. Not only did this wine taste delicious, but it had a unique and interesting story to share.
Vilma also notes that bubbles are a great go-to gift for anyone. Even if they aren't a big fan of drinking champagne, nothing says "let's celebrate" more than the sound of popping open a bottle of bubbly! Champagne can also be great for ringing in the new year, and although it can get a little pricey, it's totally worth spending on. A few favorites that Vilma would love to open this New Year's Eve include:
- Krug Brut 1988
- Pol Roger Brut Reserve 1996
- Egly-Ouriet Brut Prestige Millesime 1999
- Selosse Substance NV
- Paul Bara Brut Rose Special Club 2005
In addition to Vilma's great wine advice and suggestions, laV Executive Chef Allison Jenkins shares a holiday dish made with 10/15 onions, which can be purchased at this time of year. laV is an up-and-coming Austin restaurant specializing in French cuisine.
Texas 10/15 Onion and Leek Gratin
6 cups julienned sweet onions
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (wash and dry well)
4 oz unsalted butter
1 ½ cups heacy cream
2 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 T. olive oil
This gratin can be assembled the day before baking. To bake before serving, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt 6 T of the butter in a large heavy pot with a lid. Add the leeks and onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Turn the heat to medium and cover with the lid to let the onions steam, about 5 minutes. Once the onions and leeks have begun to soften, remove the lid and continue to cook until they are translucent. Keep the heat fairly low so they do not color. Add the thyme and season with a little more salt and pepper. Then add the cream and cook 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in half of the parmesan cheese. Transfer to an ovenproof baking dish (or individual dishes) and set aside.
For the breadcrumb topping, melt the remaining 2 T of butter with the 2 T of olive oil. Combine with the remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
Before baking sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the onion mixture. Bake at 375 until hot all the way through, brown on the top, and bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes.