When you think of the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party, you probably picture dozens of empty and half-empty Champagne bottles scattered around the room. While many people love a splash of bubbly on December 31st, not everyone wants to sip on it all night. Even though Champagne has had a virtual monopoly on New Year’s for decades, it’s certainly not your only option. In fact, some of the best red wine for New Year’s can be just as impressive as a vintage bottle of Krug. They may even win the hearts of even the most diehard Champagne fans. Whether you want to break out of a Champagne rut or you simply want to offer your guests a few more choices this year, choosing a handful of high-quality, rare red wines could make your New Year’s party a raving success.
Choose Rare, Cult, or Legendary Red Wines
When choosing the best red wine for New Year’s, you only have to follow one rule: make sure the bottle is special. Since the red wine is competing with Champagne (which is both traditional and well-loved), you’ll need to take extra care that your red wine selections are as attention-grabbing as possible. Now is not the time to pull out that bottle of table wine that you grabbed as an afterthought in the grocery store. Seek out rare grape varieties, cult wine producers, or legendary vintages. Generally, any vintage rated between 95 and 100 points is a safe bet.
Rare Grapes and Styles
When buying red wine for New Year’s parties, look for qualities like unusual grape varieties, specialized winemaking techniques, and complex flavor profiles to narrow down your choices. Ask yourself, “Is there something about this wine that stands out?” Some great red wine options include:
- Top Bordeaux vintages from storied producers, like Château Lafite Rothschild.
- Proprietary red blends from renowned producers (especially blends that are unique to every new vintage release, like wines from California producer Sine Qua Non).
- Wines made in unique terroirs, such as those from the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy, which vary in soil composition from vineyard to vineyard and produce exceptional wines with an unparalleled sense of place.
- Any type of fortified wine, especially good-quality vintage port.
- Wines that are rare due to the labor-intensive winemaking methods required to produce them, such as Amarone from Italy or Rioja Gran Reserva from Spain.
For example, one of the best red wines for New Year’s is Rioja Gran Reserva. This rich, tannic wine is supremely rare; Spanish producers only make it when the quality of the grapes is especially high. Starting with only the finest grapes available, the winemakers use a delicate aging process. The wine sits in oak barrels for two years or more and spends at least an additional three years, often longer, in the bottle before its market release. In short, this is a wine that most people will only get to experience a handful of times, making it an ideal candidate for a New Year’s celebration. This is not an everyday table wine. Two excellent Rioja vintages that are perfect for a New Year’s Eve party are 2010 CVNE Contino Gran Reserva and 2017 Artadi Vina El Pison Reserva. Both of these wines have greater aging potential ahead of them, but they are drinking well right now.
To help you narrow down your New Year’s Eve shopping list, here are a few other rare wines that are worth stocking up on now, before they sell out:
- 2005 Château Lafite Rothschild
- 2006 Château La Mission Haut-Brion
- 2004 Château Ausone
- 2003 Château Branaire-Ducru
- 2000 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
The rarer or more unique the wine, the better, since this will make the drinking experience memorable, even for wine lovers and collectors who have tried just about every style of wine imaginable. After all, a serious wine collector with decades of investing experience would be thrilled to be served a glass of fine, aged Bordeaux, such as Château Lafite Rothschild. It’s not every day they get to enjoy such a storied wine.
New Year’s is your chance to introduce your guests to fantastic cult wine producers. Not only are cult producers known for making wines that are especially high in quality, they are also in high demand among collectors, which makes many bottles quite rare. For instance, Napa Valley’s Hundred Acre makes small-batch Cabernet Sauvignon that many of your guests have likely never tried before.
Here are some of the best cult producers that make red wines worth celebrating in the new year:
- Opus One
- Harlan Estate
- Screaming Eagle
- Sine Qua Non
- Dalla Valle
- Eisele Vineyard
- Sloan Estate
- Levy & McClellan
- Dana Estates
- Bryant Family
Note that many of these producers’ wines often sell out quickly, particularly around the holiday season. It’s important to secure your bottles as early as possible.
The best reds for your New Year’s party will be high-quality vintages that are ready to drink right now. To determine the quality of a particular vintage, analyze a few published tasting notes from critics, then see if you can find an average score between them. Wines that fall between 95 and 100 points will likely be ideal candidates for your New Year’s Eve table.
Beyond looking at the average score for the wine, you should also consider whether it’s mature enough to drink. Unlike Champagne, which often is ready to drink relatively early (unless you get a vintage that’s designed for long-term aging), red wine tends to require more time in a cellar to mature. A high-quality Bordeaux blend, for example, may not be close to maturity until 20 or 25 years old, at minimum, although many will be enjoyable within 10 years or so. Take a look at our guide for storing red wine to determine whether your New Year’s pick is ready to drink.
To give you an idea of which wines to serve at your next New Year’s party, consider some of these legendary 21st-century vintages from top-rated producers in Bordeaux, Burgundy, and California:
Top Bordeaux Vintages
|2015 Château Pontet-Canet||2010 Château Pavie||2009 Château Léoville-Poyferré|
|2015 Château La Mission Haut-Brion||2010 Château Pontet-Canet||2009 Château Lafleur|
Top Burgundy Vintages
Top California Vintages
|2016 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon||2013 Morlet Family Cabernet Franc Force de la Nature||2009 Bryant Family Bettina Bryant Red|
|2016 Colgin Cariad||2013 Pride Mountain Claret Napa/Sonoma Reserve||2009 Promontory|
There are many other fine vintages from these three regions, however, these are relatively recent vintages that consistently receive some of the highest ratings among professional critics and that should be drinking well now.
The Best Red Wine for New Year’s Eve Food
The ideal flavor profile of the red wines you choose will vary depending on what, if any, food you plan to serve with it. Serve your lighter red wines with appetizers and first courses and save your bolder styles for heavier main dishes and midnight toasts. Here are a few wine picks for each moment of your New Year’s party:
When guests first arrive: Serve a light, acidic red like 2017 Domaine Faiveley Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru.
During appetizers: Serve a spicy, complex red like 2011 Dal Forno Romano Amarone Della Valpolicella Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta.
During dinner or the midnight toast: Serve something bold and memorable, like 2015 Clarendon Hills Shiraz Astralis.
During dessert, or as a nightcap: Serve fortified wine, like 2017 Taylor Fladgate Porto Vintage.
As for wines with age or especially delicate red wine varieties, it’s best to serve these on their own, as some of these wines are easily overpowered by well-seasoned foods. For example, you could serve a bold young California Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the night, but around 15 to 20 minutes before midnight strikes, you could decant a rare, aged bottle of 1997 Dalla Valle Maya. By the time the wine is finished decanting, your guests will be ready to make the midnight toast. This is a perfect time to serve such a mature and storied wine because it can be enjoyed all on its own at the very peak of the celebration.
How to Plan an Unforgettable New Year’s Celebration
The most important thing to remember when picking out the best red wine for New Year’s is to make sure that your guests have the best tasting experience possible. This means selecting the highest quality, most memorable wines and knowing when to serve them throughout the night. However, the first step is to secure your wines ahead of time. You need to make sure you have enough wine to go around, and this is particularly important if you plan on serving rare bottles that are hard to come by in brick-and-mortar wine shops. Shopping for wine online in advance takes some of the stress out of the process and ensures you’ll have only the rarest and most delicious red wines sitting on your New Year’s Eve table this year. It doesn’t matter whether you serve a classic Bordeaux or an obscure Xinomavro from Greece; as long as there’s something about the red wine that makes it stand out from the crowd, your guests will find the experience just as memorable and festive as sipping bubbly all night.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.