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Mionetto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV

Veneto, Italy, $25

Sparkling wine, both festive and food friendly, is always an appropriate gift during the holidays. If champagne isn’t in this year’s budget, you can still bestow beautiful bubbles. Prosecco is created using a different technique than champagne, one that is quicker and retains the fresh fruit and floral notes of the grapes. Iconic producer Mionetto, founded in Valdobbiadene in 1887, produces a wide range of prosecco, including a Luxury Collection with wines better suited to sipping unadorned.

One of two wines in the Luxury Collection, Mionetto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is produced 100 percent from the Valdobbiadene region’s finest glera grapes (an ancient synonym for prosecco now used due to a change in appellation regulations). Shining platinum to pale straw in the glass, this fully sparkling wine showcases a profusion of small beads in a gently persistent perlage. The nose is abundant with green apple and a lovely vanilla powder aroma associated with certain oncidium orchids. Tart apples are joined by pears and kumquat on the palate, while the mouth is tantalized with emphatic effervescence. Refreshing acidity is evident throughout, and the finish, more mineral than fruit, is steely dry. This stylish sparkler is a stellar companion for oysters on the half shell, Crab Imperial appetizers with mascarpone, and creamy pasta with mushrooms and prosciutto.

This is an elegant offering for $25 that will ensure your spot at next year’s soirée.

Kivelstadt Cellars The Family Secret Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Sonoma Valley, California, $21

Crisp white wines, versatile with a variety of foods, are a smart choice for the hostess who opts to open her vinous gifts sur le champ (right away). Kivelstadt Cellars was founded by Jordan Kivelstadt, whose initiation into the wine industry came when he left a corporate consulting job to pursue harvesting opportunities in several New World regions. Kivelstadt incorporates concepts from both New and Old World regions to create sustainable, and somewhat unconventional, products.

Although Kivelstadt Cellars The Family Secret is produced from 100 percent sauvignon blanc, it is by no means a traditional expression of this grape. In the glass, the wine glistens pale yellow-gold, and the nose is delightfully fruit forward, led by white peach and tropical fruit notes, but this is where any classic resemblance ends. Allowing the wine a few moments to breathe brings forth a faint yet distinct aroma of hops, both unusual and intriguing. Upon sipping, the palate is immediately met with a wave of salinity that rolls over the tongue, then breaks to invite the lime and apple flavors underneath to rise to the surface. The fruit recedes on a faintly oily finish, once again succumbing to the lingering saltiness. The wine delivers crisp acidity, making it a perfect accompaniment to party openers such as soft cheeses and bacon-wrapped scallops, or a first course of rich lobster bisque.

An aptly named gift for the host of this year’s family holiday gathering for $21.

Land of Nod Marquette 2015

Western Connecticut Highlands (East Canaan), $17

For the locabibe (one who drinks local beverages) in your life, offering a bottle of Connecticut wine will bump you to the top of next year’s guest list. Nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires in East Canaan, family-run Land of Nod Winery is a National Bicentennial Farm producing an array of fruit wines, including one from the exciting complex hybrid grape Marquette. Named after a Jesuit missionary, Marquette was created in Minnesota specifically for cold-climate states, where it is now seeing excellent results.

Land of Nod Marquette is produced from 100 percent estate-grown Marquette grapes. The wine has an intense, deep ruby hue. The nose is layered, opening with cedar and sweet tobacco aromatics imparted by American oak barrels crafted from trees grown on the winery’s own farm. The oak influence soon subsides to reveal crushed dark fruits led by blackberry, followed by a hint of baking spices. The oak unfolds as incense on the palate, where it is joined by appealing tart notes of sour cherry and wild autumn olives. This dry, medium-weight wine is well balanced with bright acidity and a touch of tannins on its smoky finish. It would make a worthy companion for holiday fare such as maple roast pork, coffee-rubbed brisket, or navy bean and escarole stew.

A truly local product for $17 that will appeal to out-of-state oenophiles and local hosts alike.

Renée B. Allen, CSW, FWS, CSS, is a wine and spirits expert and the director of the award-winning Wine Institute of New England, which offers wine and spirits education and events. Allen is a professor at the University of New Haven, a wine competition director and judge, and can be seen on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.

This article appears in the December 2020 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.