See more of the story

The fare at holiday parties can be all too predictable, but there's no reason the wines need to be. Lesser known bottles can liven up the evening and provide not just surprises but discoveries. Scarlett Carrasco Polanco, a certified sommelier and beverage director at EaTo and Keep It Grand eateries in Minneapolis, shares six wines that make her feel "festive." Her choices might look a bit esoteric, but should delight both wine enthusiasts and casual sippers. And as a bonus, they make great gifts, too.

Matic Mea Pet Nat
$20; available at 1010 Washington, Henry & Son, Cork Dork and South Lyndale

"Matija Žerjav, aka Matic, was only 24 when he took over the management of the Slovenian winery. In the predominantly white-wine region of Štajerska, close to the borders with Austria and Hungary, Matic cultivates 9 hectares of vineyards using organic and biodynamic methods. This wine just makes me so happy! Fizzy bubbles, lychee, ginger, dragon fruit, jasmine, lime curd and green grapes."

Chateau Soucherie Chenin Blanc
$23; 2020 available at France 44

"This 1.8-hectare vineyard in the heart of the Savennieres district on the northern side of the Loire River, sitting alongside Vouvray, is planted exclusively to chenin blanc and cared for by second-generation winemaker Mathieu Tijou. This wine is very layered, with strong flavors of citrus — grapefruit, lemon and lime zest — plus poached pears, apricots and flinty minerality with high levels of acidity. Delicious on its own but goes great with everything."

Statera Cutis Chardonnay
$33; 2019 vintage at Thomas, 2018 at Henry & Sons and Top Ten, St. Louis Park

"Cutis, the Latin word for skin, is a skin-contact chardonnay from the Columbia Gorge region in Washington state, made by two BFFs Meredith Bell and Luke Wylde, co-owners of Statera Cellars. This wine is extremely interesting and textural with significant tannins and high acidity. Tastes like tangerines, mangoes, pine and dried herbs, especially tarragon."

Chateau Yvonne Saumur-Champigny La Folie
$30; 2018 available at Surdyk's, Top Ten, South Lyndale and North Loop

"Originally founded by monks, this 16th-century estate is now headed by Matthieu Vallée, who produces his top-notch wines via organic and biodynamic practices. 'La Folie' is a savory and mouth-filling cabernet franc with juicy blackberry, black plum, boysenberry jam, dried violets, cedar and roasted red pepper aromas and crunchy black stone/earthiness."

Domaine Jean Bourdy Vin Jaune
$100; 2006, 2008 and 2009 all in the market, available at Solo Vino, Thomas, France 44 and South Lyndale

"Domaine Jean Bourdy is a family operation that has been making wine since its creation sometime between 1475 and 1500. Their vin jaune (French for yellow wine) is an oxidative style of wine aged at least seven years in a barrel under a veil of yeast called voile/flor that is age-worthy yet bright, savory with nuances of baked apples, dried stone fruit, nuts, curry, saffron, ginger, nutmeg, aromatic herbs and more."

Hidalgo Pedro Ximénez Dessert Sherry
$30; nonvintage available at Wine Republic and North Loop

"Made from 100% Pedro Ximénez [Spanish] grapes that were sun-dried immediately after harvest to concentrate the sugar levels. Tastes like raisins, dates, maple syrup, chocolate, molasses — perfect for figgy pudding."