Highway 138 Package Store wine guru Bill Remy checks out the different wines sold at the store. Remy said there are different types of holiday wine lists that he recommends for different types of people.
STOCKBRIDGE Bill Remy typically has two types of customers who seek out his holiday advice as the wine guru at Highway 138 Package Store.
One is the novice who just wants a wine for what Remy calls “ceremonial purposes.” The other type is the wine connoisseur who wants a wine that complements the flavors in his, or her, holiday meal.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas are really powerful dinners in terms of taste,” Remy said. “Every year, I get a lot of people who come in and say ‘What’s a good wine for my Thanksgiving dinner, or my Christmas dinner?’ That tells me this person doesn’t know much about wines and just wants to serve it for ceremonial purposes. The serious wine connoisseur wants a wine that serves as a legitimate part of the meal.”
For people like Remy, picking the right wine for a holiday meal is not simply a matter of picking up any bottle of wine at the local package store. It is something akin to an art form for these selective individuals.
But, Remy will not recommend the same wine list to the two types of customers he receives each holiday season.
The casual wine consumer would get a recommendation of a white, off-dry or semi-sweet wine. “A less knowledgeable wine consumer will generally prefer something on the sweeter side, than on the dry side,” Remy said.
The hard-core wine connoisseur will get a recommendation of a strong, dry red wine, he said.
He said the red wines are recommended more for the knowledgeable wine consumer because they want something that has a taste that can stand up to the intense flavors of traditional holiday foods, such as sweet potatoes, collard greens and pumpkin pies.
“There are very few white wines that will stand up to those intense flavors,” Remy said. He later added, “Most red wines have the intensity of flavor to stand up against all of those other foods.”
There is the rare, strongly flavorful white wine, like Toasted Head Chardonnay, that Remy will recommend, but the typical wine connoisseur will probably get a red wine, like Pouilly-Fumé or Beaujolais-Villages, suggested to them.
If a customer is a wine novice, and therefore not looking for a strong drink for their meals, they will probably get suggestions like Fetzer Quartz white blend, or Santa Digna Gewürztraminer, Remy said.
He also recommends the serious wine consumer start with a dry champagne before the meal, then have a dry wine during the main course and finish with a sweet wine during desert — if they truly want to have drinks that complements their meals. “If you start with something dry, it will only build your appetite until you get to dessert,” he said.
He said it is important that a person never begin a holiday meal with a really sweet wine because it will ruin the experience.
“It’s like what your mother used to say about eating sweets before a meal,” Remy said. “If you eat or drink something sweet first, it will ruin your appetite and you won’t be hungry anymore.”