Three of Opal Collection’s brightest wine minds share their picks for the most unusual, interesting, and complementary vintages to bring this season.

Crowd Pleasers

2013 Naples Cabernet Sauvignon, Boyanci, Italy ($60)

Exceptionally smooth with a complex mouthfeel that changes with every sip, this balanced cabernet “glows in the glass,” packs a dark, intense taste that nonetheless is extremely appealing, according to  Sagamore Resort Director of Food & Beverage Bob McElhenny.

Cranberry-Ginger Sangria

If you’re hosting and receive some too-sweet red, salvage it by blending it into sangria. Samoset Resort Assistant Food & Beverage Director Jeremy Flint recommends adding cranberry and ginger and heating the concoction to make a festive holiday beverage.

Conversation Starters

2012 Alma Negra “M Blend” Mendoza, Bodegas Winery, Argentina ($20)

Lake Placid Lodge Director of Food & Beverage Henry DeMartino spends a lot of time with good wine at this rustic upstate New York resort, and says this vintage is well-regarded for its rare, tough-to-find Bonarad grapes grown in small quantities across the world. This Malbec-blended wine has notes of cocoa and cherry and pours an inky, deep purple.

2012 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags’ Leap, California ($120)

Flint says this winery revolutionized the American wine scene in 1976, when a panel of some of France’s top wine tasters chose this crisp red over a selection of their native wines, establishing California as a powerhouse for the first time. You can brush up on the history here and share a memorable story while you pour glasses of this vintage for a more intimate party worth this price point.

Best Budget Buys

2013 Organic Prosecco, Tiamo, Italy ($15)

McElhenny says this crisp, bubbly white wine will delight your fellow partygoers, no matter how discerning their tastes.

2013 Tenute Cisa Asinari Marchesi di Gresy La Serra, Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Italy ($14)

Saying the full name might twist your tongue, but Flint says this moscato will land on your palate sweetly and simply with its sweet-but-not-overpowering taste and rich mouthfeel.

Best for Dinner Pairings

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Clos Pegase, California ($35)

A savory holiday roast is a tradition worth celebrating, and few vintages pair better with red meat than this fruit-laden wine featuring notes of black cherry, blackberry, and plum, per DeMartino.

2012 Chloe Creek Pinot Noir, Leras Family Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California ($33)

When you don’t know what’s for dinner, this is the perfect option. DeMartino says it’s so versatile it can be paired with “anything short of a grilled steak,” going on to suggest it’s the very definition of a crowd pleaser, with notes as mixed as strawberry coulis and savory herbs.

Two You Haven’t Heard Of

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Groth Vineyards & Winery, California ($57)

Flint said he sees plenty of big-name cabernets that get lots of attention from his Down East Maine perch, but Groth Vineyards is quietly making show-stopping wine in the style with intricate, soft tannins and nuanced fruit flavors, all without a massive price tag.

Modus 2012 Toscana IGT, Ruffino, Italy ($35)

One of the so-called “Super Tuscans” that does not follow the restrictive Italian Chianti production rules, the Modus features a rare and terrific blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes. McElhenny recommends this vintage, with its currant and mineral notes and full-bodied flavor.

Where to Stay Samoset Resort | Sagamore Resort | Lake Placid Lodge