Torrontés are a great choice for the holidays

in Food/Wine & Dine by

By CELIA STRONG

hoosing wines for the holiday season is an annual chore. 

How many bottles? What price? Red or white? Or rosé? Or bubbles? 

Part of the difficulty is there is no one wine that is perfect. Of course something that will go well with each meal, but also something that will be liked and enjoyed. 

Over the years, it seems categories of suitable wines are easier to discuss and study and, maybe taste, ahead of time. Specific wines are more of a personal choice. Considering holiday dinners are personal events.

Torrontés (tore-ron-tez) wines are a more than suitable choice. They aren’t usual everyday choices so they stand out as special for the holidays. They are delicious on their own, but pair well with turkey, in particular. As well as multiple other foods. And, they are well-priced and deliver value for that price.

Torrontés is white wine that is all but synonymous with Argentina. 

Over the past several years, studies of this variety have found that what are made as Torrontés wines actually come from several different grape varieties connected to this name. The three most significant are Torrontés Sanjuaino, Torrontés Mendocino and Torrontés Ruiojano.

The third is the most widely planted. Probably because it produces better wines. Duh? Torrontés wines’ styles ranges from lighter and fresher to heady, heavier and very perfumy.

The origins of Torrontés are a bit unsure. Most experts, though, still believe it is indigenous to Argentina. And it might have been crossed, in Argentina, with Muscat of Alexandria. It grows best in high-altitude vineyards with dry conditions. It has large berries with thick skins; it is susceptible to mildew; its wines from cooler climates retain their acidity. 

Since 2012, it is the second-most planted white variety in Argentina. More than 25,000 acres of vines. Very small amounts of Torrontés are also grown in the United States and Europe.

Torrontés wines are aromatic. They are fruity, but dry, light to medium bodied, depending partly on where the grapes are grown, have good acidity, and moderate alcohol levels. 

They have aromas and flavors that include Meyer lemons, peaches, lemon zest, rose petals, geraniums, perfumes and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper. Their are great matches for curries, coconut flavored dishes, Thai spicey peanut dishes, and, of course, roasted and fried turkey.

Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva is a good example of what a Torrontés wine can be. Terrazas is a winery located in the Luján de Cuyo area of the Mendoza region of Argentina, founded in 1996 as part of Moët-Hennessy. They refurbished an old winery, from 1898, planted vineyards, and did more soil analysis and electro-condutivity mapping than most of the vineyards in the country. Each grape variety, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Torrontés is grown at specific elevations that are best for them. 

Terrazas Torrontés comes from vineyards in Cafayate in the more northern Salta region. Which means it is the more dry, clean, fresh style of this wine. (Torrontés wines from Mendoza grapes are fuller bodied. A different style is all, so consider them both.) Its aromas and flavors are many and complex. Beyond the basic lemon and peach notes, it also has blood orange, kumquat, green tea, Chinese five spice blend, basil and more. It is crisp but smooth on the palette. 

And perfect for the holidays. For $12.99. Enjoy. 

Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.