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In High Holidays Spirits: My Adventures with a Wine Advent Calendar

I suppose when you turn 21 in a global pandemic, it’s only fair that the traditional chocolate Advent calendar gets replaced with something a bit more grown-up.


That’s right. 


This year’s calendar was split between my mom, dad and I which left us sharing a 375 ml (aka a half bottle) of wine every night from December 1-24. 


If you follow me on Instagram, I made a highlight reel / review of all the bottles, but I wanted to write a more formal piece about the experience.


For each day’s offering, I will summarize the flavor profile from the trio of tasters and give each wine a score out of ten.


Let’s uncork this (if you're 21 and up, of course)!


Day-By-Day Breakdown


December 1: Vieux Ciseaux (Merlot): This wine was said to be oaky by Mom and, well, just red by me. This one garners a 6/10!


December 2: Nightfall (Zinfandel): This was a sweet red enjoyed by all. Some may call it amazin! This was a 7/10 for me.


December 3: Ciel Bleu D’Aquitaine (Sauvignon Blanc): For me, the flavor of this wine ranked as a Barefoot-White-Moscato-but-better, which I considered to be a compliment on behalf of all cheap wine lovers in college. I’d say 7.5/10.


December 4: Cielo D’Oro (Sangiovese): This was a full-bodied red, but I wasn’t full of anything interesting to say about it. Cielo D’Oro gets a 5/10 from me.


December 5: Pasarica (Malbec): Said to be somewhat bitter and dry by Mom and Dad and passable by me, I’ll give this a 5.5/10.


December 6: Ballūn (Pinot Grigio): Fairly dry, this white paired well with a cheese board without any whining from the drinkers. I’ll give it a 6.5/10.


December 7: Héros (Syrah): This wine was like licking a red velvet carpet. It was luxurious but not for the faint of heart. None of us enjoyed day 7’s offering, so it’s getting a 3/10. Que será syrah, I suppose!


December 8: Octopada (Macabeo): The resounding review was “this’ll do the job,” so it was not a memorable glass. It gets a 4/10.


December 9: Three Brothers (Pinot Noir): This was nice with our steak dinner… just the right amount of dark fruity tones. I’ll say 7/10.


December 10: Atlas Bear (Chenin Blanc): This white was crisp and a little on the dry side, but I liked it a lot. This white gets a 7.5/10.


December 11: Bold Bull (Tempranillo): I would like to start a love affair with this bottle of wine ASAP. This red gets a 10/10 for me.


December 12: Carrete (Viognier): This was a less-than-memorable sweet white. A 6/10 for me.


December 13: The Conductor (Merlot): The bottle reminded us of the chimp Pogo from Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, but that had no bearing on the flavor. Described as dry, puckery and notes of cherry, this one isn’t sitting on top of any sipping sundaes for me. But it was decent. 6.5/10 for me


December 14: Baciato Dal Sol (Trebbiano): The type of wine is not to be confused with Friends character Joey Tribbiani… but it might have been as sweet as him. I rank it 7/10.


December 15: LTD (Grenache-Cinsault): This was the only rosé we had, so it stands out for that reason. I didn’t love or hate it, so a 6/10.


December 16: Moulinet (Grenache-Syrah): Syrah the sequel was still bitter but less abrasive than the first Syrah. It gets a 7/10 for me.


December 17: Cara A Cara (Fernao Pires): I called this one an “alright white” in my Instagram review, so that is what I am sticking with. A not-so-notable 6/10 for the rank.


December 18: Pollo Pazzo (Cabernet-Merlot): The name means ‘crazy chicken’ in Italian, which is fitting because I was wild about this day’s wine. This red gets an 8/10.


December 19: Six String (Tempranillo-Garnacha): This was almost as tasty as the first tempranillo! I’ll give it a 9/10 because nothing tops your first love.


December 20: Maison Savas (Bordeaux): Perhaps the oddest descriptor, this wine was called ‘unobtrusive’ by my dad. It was a bit sweet for me. So a 6.5/10 it gets!


December 21: Barcelos (Red Blend): We actually had breakfast-for-dinner this night, and shockingly, it was an okay pair! For that reason, it gets a 7.5/10. 


December 22: Flutter (Chardonnay): Mom called this wine buttery which wasn’t a trait I thought I’d want, but I did agree with her. Super dry though, so not a fan favorite. I’ll say 5/10.


December 23: Cap de Biolet (Bordeaux): I gave this one a borde-NO with its heaviness. A disappointing penultimate bottle, for me at least. It gets a 4/10.


December 24: Brilliant Sparkling (Spumante Brut): This was a fun end to the calendar and was enjoyed before we went to Christmas Eve Mass. Bright and bubbly, it felt like a celebration! It gets an 8/10.


Top 5 Wines

1. Bold Bull (Tempranillo)

2. Six String (Tempranillo-Garnacha)

3. Pollo Pazzo (Cabernet-Merlot)

4. LTD (Rosé)

5. Ciel Bleu D’Aquitaine (Sauvignon Blanc)


Overall Experience

This holiday season felt odd because there was a lot less gathering of loved ones (rightfully so), but this calendar was a nice way to bond through the outlet of wine… with my immediate family. It also opened up my tastebuds to wine that’s better than $4 Barefoot… who knew? I was definitely not a red wine drinker before this, but I expanded my palate. I’d recommend it for the next holiday season, for sure!


I hope reading about this unconventional Advent calendar didn’t make you want to get a wine bottle deep (mini size or not). Happy sipping, my little sommeliers.


My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!
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