One fun way to surprise your holiday hosts is to present them with a very unusual, but good quality, wine that they are unlikely to have or perhaps even tasted. One such example is a single varietal wine made from the dark-skinned pinot meunier grape. Pinot meunier is best known as the third grape in true Champagne sparkling wine in which it’s usually blended with chardonnay and pinot noir. The grape is extensively grown in the Marne Valley area of the Champagne region.

Pinot meunier is also grown in California where it’s also mostly used in sparkling wines. However, there are a few wineries that do bottle it as a single varietal. I found one called Fable at Parker’s Table, the wine and gourmet food market located in a former post office on Oakland Avenue. Fable is owned by Sonoma County’s Brack Mountain Wine Company, which specializes in artisan wines.

Fable 2016 Pinot Meunier, Dommen Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County

Bought • Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Avenue, in December for $22.99

Description • This is an intriguing wine that has lots of character and is quite aromatic. Distinctively floral and fruity, it tastes like the juicy black plums you find in the summer along with some bakery spice. Fable is a very soft wine that’s somewhat similar to a pinot noir, but it’s a bit bigger in body and more rustic. This is a very flavorful wine that is best sipped with food rather than on its own. It calls for flavorful fare like veal osso buco or Mediterranean style eggplant dishes.

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