Wine Picks from Vinifera and Z Wines USA

Local wine shop owners offer their recommendations for entertaining and gift giving

The entertainment season is nearly upon us. Those fall and winter evenings when Minnesotans gather indoors with a fire crackling in the fireplace, candles twinkling on the mantle and wines uncorked for sipping with friends and family. Whether you’re hosting an event or are invited to one, choosing the right wine for serving or gifting doesn’t need to be a guessing game. Wine experts from Vinifera Wines and Ales as well as Z Wines USA offer up some lovely selections suitable for serving with hors d’oeuvres, buffets, banquets or even a quiet evening in.

Christian Nesheim, owner and general manager of Vinifera Wines and Ales, is a certified sommelier, which is a fancy way of saying that he is a trained wine professional who worked in the distribution side of the business for seven years before opening Vinifera. “The cool thing about leaving distribution,” Nesheim says, “is that now I get to work with the general public again. I get to help people find high-quality wines at affordable prices.”



Jeff Runquist 1448 Red Blend

When you need a red to impress every wine drinker, the 1448 is easy on the pocketbook,” says Nesheim. “This is a California petite sirah-based blend named for the altitude of this small family winery. It is a big and rich wine, full of the flavors of raspberries, chocolate, smoke and oak. It is smooth and supple. This is a great wine for every occasion and pairs well with most anything, especially steaks or barbequed brisket.” $17.99

Piattelli Malbec

This velvety, fruit-forward Argentinian wine is smooth and robust. It’s very palette-friendly and will please even those slightly less experienced with wine, as it’s easy to drink. This flavorful wine goes well with meat, such as barbecued chicken or pork. $15.99


Rotari Rose

This is a beautiful sparkling rose from Italy that is light and refreshing. Made from chardonnay and pinot noir, this critically acclaimed wine has characteristics of lively red fruit with hints of yeast and spice. It’s perfect for starting out an evening with appetizers, particularly seafood’s like calamari, shrimp and oysters. $16.99

Owner of wine distributorship Z Wines USA, Roy Goslin and his wife Diane XX have a passion for the fruit of the vine. They practically grew up in the industry, after all. Both South African natives, where the year-round climate is a dry mild sunshine similar to that found in California, they’ve become regional experts in finding the best bang for your buck—and that often means importing from their home country, where the U.S. dollar is still quite strong.


Tygerberg Gewurztraminer

This South African white shows expansive notes of lychee, almond and spice. These characteristics are replicated on the palate with a crisp, off-dry finish. It pairs well with a cheese platter, spicy Asian dishes and turkey—just in time for Thanksgiving Day. $10–$12.


Landskroon Bush Camp The Sundowner Chenin Blanc

This off-dry Chenin blanc shows attractive tropical fruit and honeysuckle notes with a hint of grassiness. The wine finishes with tantalizing lemon and lime flavors with a subtle touch of sweetness. Sundowner pairs well with seafood, chicken dishes, turkey, ham and salads. $9–$11.


Red Falcon Devon Blanc

Over-riding floral notes lead to melon, stone fruit and spicy aromas in this white. The wine is medium-bodied with predominant peach and spice flavors, and finishing with a tantalizing hint of sweetness. The wine pairs well with Asian foods, seafood, chicken, turkey and ham. $9–$11.


Whites available at:

The Cellars

16605 Cty. Rd. 24 W.


Descriptions by Roy Goslin of Z Wines USA


Reds and rose available at:

Vinifera Wines and Ales

1400 County Rd. 101 N.