Around the holidays, there are many decisions surrounding gift-giving and entertaining that require a level of thoughtfulness and knowledge that we wish we had, but don’t quite have. For many, choosing the right wine falls into this category. Fortunately, Simon Cocks at Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese is prepared to guide the novice or oenophile through a hand-picked selection of wines from around the world.
Cocks brings years of experience to his role as wine buyer at the store. Before joining Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese in 2005, he worked for two wine importer/distributors for seven years, which followed previous posts at a wine bar in Denver and The Wine House here in Los Angeles.
Cocks’ guidelines for buying wines give his store a distinctive niche suited to its relatively small size and location.
“In a nutshell, I’m trying to find wines that the community will like, but also focusing on small producers—where possible, organic, biodynamic—and from importers that we think are trustworthy and consistently of high quality,” said Cocks. “The general approach is to try to find things which are not broad market.”
When it comes down to the eternal holiday question of whether a white or red pairs best with a turkey dinner, Cocks believes there’s no need to worry. There are great options on both sides of the divide.
As for the whites, Cocks first suggestion is a Gruner Veltliner, “a chameleon of a wine that matches with all different kinds of cuisine.” If you’re interested in trying this Austrian wine, Cocks suggests the Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner from the Kamptal region.
“A dry Reisling would also be a good choice,” said Cocks, “even a White Burgundy would be nice, which is a Chardonnay from Burgundy.”
When considering a red, Cocks believes that if you’re serving turkey with a bounty of side dishes, the wine should not be big and heavy.
“It should be fruity, light to medium-bodied with good acidity to cut through all that richness,” said Cocks. “Things like a good cru Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir, either Californian or from Burgundy.” Cocks highlighted the J.L. Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara as a good selection.
If your holiday meal features roast beef, it may seem obvious to choose a hearty red, but there’s many to choose from within that category.
“A good classic Californian Cabernet or Merlot or Syrah would go very well with roast beef,” said Cocks. “Alternatively, the reds from Bordeaux are a good choice or wines from Tuscany or Pimonte in Italy.”
Sometimes, a holiday moment isn’t really about the food. If you find yourself invited to a BYOB party where dinner may or may not be on the agenda, you could choose a red or white, but there’s another option.
“I would recommend a sparkling wine of some sort,” said Cocks. “A nice dry Cava or Prosecco at a low price point, although we have some really interesting small estate bottles of champagnes for $30 or more. You really can’t go wrong with a bottle of champagne.” When asked to pick one, Cocks said he would recommend the J. Lassalle Cachet Or Brut.
Finally, when it’s time to sit in front of the fire and reflect on the year that’s been, it might be time to break out a different kind of bottle. Larchmont Wine, Spirits & Cheese offers an impressive selection of spirits. Should you want to experiment beyond the traditional Brandy, Cognac or Scotch, Cocks suggests a Japanese whiskey, or possibly an Italian digestivo, like an Amaro of some sort. As for himself, Cocks would select a 10-year-old Springback Scotch.
“That would be perfectly good for me,” he said.
As you plan your own holiday parties, keep in mind that Larchmont Wine, Spirits & Cheese will cater cheese and meat platters as well as a variety of gourmet sandwiches. Wine and wine gift baskets are also available for delivery.
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