Arista Wine Cellars
This time of year, the crisp air is perfumed with the crackling of alder hearth fires and spiced with notes of cinnamon and pumpkin. The promise of unhurried dinners as we gorge ourselves with extra helpings and good conversation lures us indoors. And the perfect complement to any New Year’s Eve or winter gathering is, of course, a beautiful wine or bubbly libation.
I asked the professional wine connoisseurs at Arista Wine Cellars in Edmonds to give me the 4-1-1 on all things wine for the winter season. Combined, the staff at Arista have over 140 years of wine drinking experience, and they conduct more than 50 tastings annually.
“We are intimately involved in everything here,” said Roger Clayton, a 15-year veteran at Arista, who took over as owner in 2016. “We know the wines personally because between the staff and I, we’ve tasted every one of them.”
The founders of Arista Wine Cellars, David and Ruth Arista, opened in downtown Edmonds 20 years ago. They stocked the shelves with wine they knew North Enders would love and took an active role in the community, sponsoring shows at the Edmonds Center for the Arts and serving on the Edmonds Downtown Alliance. Arista continues to specialize in Northwest wine varieties. as well as Clayton’s special love for Italian wines. But you’ll also find bottles from Spain, France, Germany, South America, and of course, California. You can sample some of the store’s special offerings during public wine tastings on Saturdays.
You’ll find roughly 800 labels in store, and you can count on expert, firsthand advice. As you prepare your 2018 wine list or your next wine tasting party this season, here’s a quick four-step tasting guide from Clayton, which is sure to put you “in-the-know” alongside sommeliers, or at least get you a touch closer.
WINE TASTING 101
1. Open bottle and sniff. Smelling the cork and sniffing the bottle’s nose can help you determine if the wine is still good. Anything that smells like cement, wet cardboard, stinky feet, or nail polish remover has turned. Seems obvious, but better to sniff it out than taste feet, in my opinion.
2. Pour and Swirl. The act of pouring the wine, especially into the right style of glass, can wake the wine up a bit. Swirling agitates the wine in order to reengage it with oxygen, which brings out flavors and aromas that have been left docile.
3. Sip or Slurp. Slurping, like swirling, draws oxygen back into the wine and acts like a mini decanting. Sip a small amount of wine and push it over your palette for a full flavor profile. See what flavors you can pull out with every sip — apple, cinnamon, or baker’s chocolate perhaps?
If you’re shopping for winning wines at Arista Wine Cellars, and you want to look like a fabulous host or the best dinner guest ever, here are Clayton’s top five picks for New Year’s or winter dining.
Perfect Holiday Dinner Wine: Try a chardonnay as it won’t fight with the myriad of flavors happening on the table. Clayton recommends the Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages ($13).
Best Bang for Your Buck: Luciano Sandrone Docetto d’Alba ($22) or Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Blancs ($16).
Works with Everything: Adami Prosecco ($16). Prosecco can cut through the richness and fattiness of cheese during appetizers and yet be enjoyed right through dessert.
Worthwhile Splurge: 2014 Long Shadows Group Saggi Super-Tuscan Blend San Giovese Cabernet and Merlot ($54). For Clayton and his staff, this is a near perfect wine. Rare and worth every penny.
Now get out there and be the party’s wine star! Bottoms up!