Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Every year there are endless wine columns about what to pair with a holiday meal. They take three main forms: What to pair with turkey; what to pair with everything else, since turkey has no taste; and “This year, be off-the-wall and try X,” X being anything from Beaujolais to Riesling to Maine blueberry wine.
Enough is enough. This holiday season, here’s an idea. Don’t worry about pairing a specific wine with your meal. Instead, since the holidays are all about giving thanks (at least that’s the idea, right?), why not extend that sentiment a little and pour a wine that’s about giving back?
There are a growing number of charity-friendly wines out there, and here are a few that would be particularly good with a special holiday dinner - or really, with any meal at all.
2012 Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc ($12)
Crisp and lively, with a lot of juicy citrus flavor, this Sauvignon comes from a Sonoma winery that participates in the 1% for the Planet project. Started by Yvon Chouinard (the founder of Patagonia), companies in the group donate 1% of their total sales to a variety of environmental nonprofit organizations. To date, the group overall has donated more than $100 million.
2012 HandCraft Inspiration Red ($12)
HandCraft supports breast cancer research, to the tune of $200,000 over the past couple of years. The inspiration for its appropriately named Inspiration wines, like this ripe blend of Zinfandel and other red grapes, came from owner Cheryl Indelicato’s years of work with cancer patients as a registered nurse (her family owns Delicato Vineyards).
2012 Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
Owner Joseph Carr named Josh Cellars after his dad, who served in the military. This holiday season, Carr be giving $1 (up to $50,000) for every bottle sold of this substantial Cabernet to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides emergency services to military personnel and their families in times of hardship. (Note: If you want to support this charity but you can’t find the Josh Cellars wines, Murphy-Goode is donating 50 cents from every bottle sold of its robust, Syrah-based 2011 Murphy-Goode Operation Homefront Red [$15] to the same cause.)
2006 Iron Horse Ocean Reserve Sparkling ($40)
If you need a bottle of bubbles to splurge on this holiday season, Iron Horse’s Ocean Reserve is an elegant option. It’s crisp and graceful, made entirely from Chardonnay (exactly like a Blanc de Blancs Champagne), and, thanks to a partnership with National Geographic, $4 from every purchase goes to help establish marine protected areas and reduce overfishing around the world.
More from Food & Wine:
Thanksgiving Drinks Guide
Gifts for the Wine Lover
Sonoma County Wineries to Visit
Wine Experts to Follow on Twitter
What to Drink with Latkes
© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
I have to say, bought several of these and they were so so. Popped a luna Sangiovese for $20 and it blew them all out of the water. Beautiful fruit and earth on the nose, underbrush, baking spices, and blackberry on the palate, finishing with balanced acidity and fine grained tannins.
Drink too much and any of them will "give back."
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