On Halloween night, I went to the grocery store for an extra bag of Reese's Snack Size for my trick or treaters. By 6pm on October 31, the Halloween aisle at Gerbes had been dismantled, replaced with red and green signage, red and green Reese's peanut butter minis, red and green party tablecloths, fake potted poinsettias, an inflatable Santa Claus, red and green M&M's. Halloween items, not yet discounted, were heaped up in a cart in the middle of the bakery. At the local craft store, Christmas craft items appeared in late June-- the red and green pompom yarn, Christmas craft idea booklets, crosstitch patterns of candles and holly. It's age-old, apparently, vendors pushing Christmas long before December rolls around. My daddy recalls Woolworth's setting out their Christmas items in August even as far back as the 1940s, so it's not just during my lifetime that Christmas has been crammed down our throat during the late summer and early fall. But, really, who would buy their Christmas candy in October? However, I laud the handmade community members who start cracking on their handmade Christmas presents in August. I stitch until my fingers bleed to finish my Christmas presents by mid-December, never really starting until after Thanksgiving.
Nevertheless, with the coming of the highly celebrated holidays come the specialty Missouri wines that are only available during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Augusta Winery's trustworthy newsletter alerted me this weekend that they're serving hot mugs of their Hot Apple Pie Mulled Wine at the Wine and Beer Garden. This sweet seasonal mulled wine is made with Augusta Winery's River Valley White wine, mulling spices, apple juice, and brown sugar. On a visit to North Missouri this weekend, we encountered Riverwood Winery's mulled wine, made with one of their lighter red wines, a North Missouri take on Gluwein, the German spiced wine intended to be served warm. Any wine with mulling spices is bound to be sweet, so they're good for sipping after indulging in pie. I tend to prefer Sambuca after dessert while others in my world like Norton or tawny port.
Ste. Genevieve Winery, located in charming downtown Ste. Genevieve, rolls out their Christmas Plum Wine each November. This sweet wine is made with plums, and is popular among sweet wine drinkers. At 10$ a bottle (and festooned with festive label art), the Christmas Plum Wine is one of the winery's more popular wines. Even non-wine drinkers like this one during the holidays, and it's available now at the winery. (I personally prefer their Bolduc, which is a nice dry red wine...) I found the Christmas Plum Wine and Ste. Genevieve's Thanksgiving wine for sale at the New Florence/Hermann exit Phillips 66 gas station today.
St. James Winery, located in the post oak savanna Central Plateau, now offers a cranberry wine during the holidays. This sweeter fruit wine is also appropriate for after dinner sipping, only available during the holidays and, like the Christmas Plum Wine, comes with a nice snowflake-themed label (good for gift giving). But St. James' annual offering of Nouveau, a take on Beaujolais Nouveau, is certainly worth the wait. This year it is made with a blend of Rougeon and Chambourcin and has overtones of bright raspberries and a smooth finish reminiscent of the French Beaujolais Nouveau. For the past several years, I've picked up a few bottles (a steal at $10) to bring home to Louisiana for Thanksgiving dinner and the annual taste test where my family and I compare Missouri wine to locally available French wine.
Meramec Vineyards rolled out their two Christmas and Thanksgiving wines recently (I saw them at Schnuck's): Fireglow is a mulled spice wine, and Harvest Moon is a pumpkin spice wine. (Fireglow's label features a big pit fire at night) As my journey on the Missouri Wine Passport Program continues, we took the day off to visit a fruit wine winery outside of Hermann on Hwy K off Hwy 19. Endless Summer Winery offers lots of fantastic fruit wines which would be very appropriate for after dessert sipping, but their semi-dry pecan and raisin wine would be ideal with a tray of Christmas cookies. It's really not very sweet (writes the Norton fan), and the overtones of nut and butter are just fantastic. Both wineries are open during the week as well as weekends.