Author Archives: Dr. Richard Parker

Dr. Richard Parker

About Dr. Richard Parker

Dr. Richard Parker is a marketing professor and former resident of downtown Nashville’s Second Avenue District. Since 2003 he has consulted on product and marketing strategies for the retailing side of the wine industry. His travels have taken him to various wine regions in California, Canada, Austria and Slovenia. He most recently spent time in California’s Paso Robles wine region.

Wine Suggestions for Christmas_featured

How to Select the Perfect Wine for Christmas Gatherings—or Gifts

Wine Suggestions for Christmas Festivities and GiftsWine enthusiast and guest blogger Dr. Richard Parker demystifies selecting the perfect vintage for someone special or to share with friends and family this Christmas.

As the holidays are fast approaching, people seem to always be scrambling for a gift that will both make a good impression and be appreciated, yet won’t leave them in the poor house.

Fortunately there are a number of good wines to be enjoyed with family and friends or to be given as a gift this holiday season.

With the onset of winter, people are less likely to drink a chilled white wine, so ‘tis the season for that good red you might have passed over at Thanksgiving.

If your palate desires a strong red with an exotic flare, seek out a Super Tuscan from Italy, or if you insist on something French look for a Bordeaux appellation from Pomerol, Paulliac or St. Emillon.

Many people are unaware that Italian wines offer a great value compared to similar blends from other world regions and deliver a deeply satisfying wine experience. In that same vein, you don’t have to be among the super-rich to enjoy a good Bordeaux. Many of these wines sell for under $25 and will be well-received. Look for Bordeaux wines with vintage dates of 2005, 2009 and 2010 for the best quality.

If something from California is what you desire, here are a few suggestions that will help make Santa’s job a little easier. When looking to spoil someone with that unexpectedly special bottle consider a Stag’s Leap FAY Cabernet Sauvignon. The latest vintage available from the winery is a 2009 and is considered to be a first-growth wine from Napa Valley.

Further south look to Santa Barbara County’s Fess Parker Winery (Fess Parker is of no relation to this writer) if a Pinot Noir is more along the wines of your choice. The Fess Parker 2009 Ashley’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is a great choice to give or enjoy, especially under the mistletoe.

Other California wines to consider are Merlots from Flora Springs, Clos du Val, Grgich Hills and Coppola or Cabernet Sauvignons from Duckhorn, Frog’s Leap, Rodney Strong and Franciscan Estate. These wineries offer a good selection at reasonable prices for your Christmas festivities.

And not to totally ignore the chilled white stuff, let’s jump ahead to the big event after Christmas. Champagne is one of those beverages that tends to go rather quickly on December 31stand the days leading up to it.

There are some very good American sparkling whites (actual Champagne is technically from France) that are ideal to celebrate the advent of a new year or any other special holiday occasion.

Look for sparkling whites from California’s Roederer Estate or Domaine Chandon to ring in the New Year. But if you want something that will really set a festive mood, look for a bottle of bubbly from Washington State’s Mountain Dome Winery. You can’t miss the gnomes on the label of their Brut Non-Vintage sparkling white. These great American sparkling wines will be a hit at your holiday celebrations and will leave your wallet with plenty of greenbacks for other goodies to make the party a success.

As a final reminder, remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give the gift of good wine or to enjoy it for yourself and with your family. And don’t forget that wine gift bags help to eliminate the issues of wrapping when treating those special people in your life.

May you have a wonderful Christmas, a joyous New Year and drink responsibly so that you may enjoy more festive occasions down the road.


Holiday turkey

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings and Recommendations

Wine enthusiast Dr. Richard Parker breaks down pairings and recommendations for your Thanksgiving feast, plus what to keep in mind and where to buy in Nashville.

Every Thanksgiving it seems that people are always sparring over what wines might best go with their traditional turkey dinner. Fortunately there is enough variety in the wine market to keep these deliberations from derailing your well-planned meal and festivities.

As most people will be enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, it’s easy enough to actually rule out a number of wines; I am talking, of course, about red varietals like zinfandel, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. But if you insist on serving a red with your meal, I would recommend going with the most food-friendly of the reds, the versatile pinot noir.

If you’re looking to shop economically for this varietal, I would recommend a Kenwood or Clos du Bois Pinot Noir—either should run less than $20 a bottle. However if you’re considering something a little more special, look for a David Bruce or Saintsbury; both will offer tantalizing flavors that will go well with almost every bite of your holiday feast from turkey breast to sweet potato casserole.

Now that we’ve dealt with the easy part, let’s tackle the more difficult option—the white varietals. What you choose will largely depend on your own taste preferences. While many people might seek out something rich and buttery, like a Newton Chardonnay from California, others might choose something cleaner with a hint of pepper, such as New Zealand’s Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Since I’ve already mentioned it, I think the Matua Valley is the most underpriced wine on the market. Selling well below the $20 price point, this crisp, clean white with hints of pepper would easily complement the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and would be among the first bottles I would open at my own table.

But let’s go back to the chardonnays for a moment. This varietal makes for a fine pairing with most Thanksgiving meals. While Newton’s price point between $35 and $45 may make some hesitate in the current economy, there are some good alternatives that will work very well and still leave you with plenty of money for Christmas shopping at the Mall at Green Hills, including chardonnays by Chalk Hill, Buena Vista and Alice White. My recommendation for a best value chardonnay under $15 is California’s Toasted Head Chardonnay.

Alternatively if you’re pondering something a bit more exotic than a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, consider an Austrian gruner veltliner—one of the best white wines flying under the radar today, a German gewürztraminer or a California viognier. Toasted Head also makes a very nice version of this varietal. But if your tastes run sweeter, try Relax, a German riesling that sells for under $15 and pairs nicely with lighter fare. And if a dessert wine is what you’re after, look for an ice wine from Canada or a late harvest sauvignon blanc from California.

Inevitably, there are those who love their blush wines and fortunately there are some that can contribute to the Thanksgiving recommendations. Most people are familiar with the ubiquitous white zinfandel, but there are other blush wines including white merlot and white Grenache. But if you are looking for a surprise, Biltmore Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir will offer a delightful wine experience for even those who normally shy away from any wine with even a hint of pink.

With all the available choices you may be asking yourself, “What’s the right wine for my Thanksgiving dinner?” The important thing for you to consider is not what’s the right wine, but what wine will make the experience memorable.

Fortunately for Nashvillians, there are plenty of good stores to help you make the right selection. For folks living in western Davidson County, try Red Spirits and Wine in Bellevue. If you are in the Green Hills area, The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills has a good selection. West End Discount Liquors and Wines can help you in the midtown area. And those in East Nashville can stop by Woodland Wine Merchant.

May your Thanksgiving be happy and your wine selections be as satisfying as the late Thursday nap.