It is the most wonderful time of the year for some, and the least wonderful for others: Hallmark Christmas movie season. This Countdown to Christmas in the Hallmark Cinematic Universe (HCU) features many new faces due to major defections to other networks. However, Hallmark still wears the crown, delivering gentle films featuring weird holiday miracles via angels (lots of angels); dead, missing, or derelict spouses; complex romantic situations; breakups; returns to folksy small-town life; absurdly nice kitchens; amnesia; and painful misconceptions about the art of journalism in a way only they truly can. There are also new wines for the season to go along with these time-tested tropes. We previously reviewed Hallmark’s 2018 Jingle Cabernet Sauvignon and 2019 Joy Sauvignon Blanc. This time around we are fortunate enough to check two nonvintage blends and a very special limited release.
Anyways, here’s how they taste.
NV Hallmark Red Blend “Holly” – Similar to this year’s Elvis Zinfandel (more on that in a second), this red blend shows notes of roasted plums, baking spice, and black cherry on the nose. The palate improves on these qualities with blackberry and a touch of oak on the finish to add variation. Mild acidity and some tannins keep things interesting, but there’s very little complexity of which to speak. This is certainly a bottle you’d find after you’ve been laid off from your high-powered job at a major magazine in the big city, and going home to stay with your parents for the holidays is the only option because your partner broke off the engagement. No matter the situation, this bottle is certainly one to hold until the end of the night when it’s the last thing on the wire rack, and going to the store is no longer an option. B- / $16
What to watch while drinking Holly: My Southern Family Christmas (Tuesday, December 13, 6 pm EST) – In 2002’s Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce Campbell was arguably the greatest ever to portray the King on the big screen. He is also in the rare class of actors who can cut through the Hallmark film of sugary machination to deliver consistently solid performances. Just like last year’s One December Night, he makes every part of this film better each time he is in front of the camera and improves on a script with a thin, laughably absurd premise. There are some bad movies in the class of 2022. This is not one of them.
NV Hallmark White Blend “Jolly” – A step down from last year’s offering in the white wine department, with an abundance of summer fruit from peach to lemon, plus light minerality and a grassy note. It never really finds any trace of consistency or pleasantness, leading to a finish recalling an astringent fruit cocktail syrup. C / $16
What to watch while drinking Jolly: #Xmas (Friday, December 23, 6 pm EST) – The better pedigree of Hallmark holiday movies features the main protagonist (in this case Nashville’s Clare Bowen) as a simply wretched human being finding some shred of redemption by the 80-minute mark. A sly editorial on the superficial stupidity of social media, #Xmas features a whole slew of simply horrible people who committed some pretty bad mistakes in their past (and present) and now have to own up to their choices. If you’re paying attention, it also contains some lovely acidic jabs in the direction of the HGTV, picture-perfect marriage jet set.
NV Hallmark Elvis Zinfandel – A limited-edition run celebrating Elvis for some apparent reason, which is kind of weird because there aren’t that many showings of films from the Christmas at Graceland movie subseries this year. This Zinfandel starts off promising enough with some holiday baking spice and plum on the nose but sleds downhill very quickly. The palate resembles a fruit punch made from water and concentrate and does little to correct itself on the palate or finish. Not that much complexity to be found here and may be best served to those who care far too little about the quality of their wine. Much like his music, this is not for everyone. C / $20
What to watch while drinking the King’s Wine: Christmas at Graceland (Tuesday, December 20, 12 am EST) – If midnight movies/insomnia are your things, or your addiction to Hallmark movies grows stronger as Christmas grows closer, Christmas at Graceland stars country singer Kellie Pickler as a high-powered business executive traveling to Memphis to close a deal and take over the city’s oldest family-owned bank. Also featuring Bruce Campbell as Elvis, this one is better than the sequel starring the fella from HBO’s Entourage. Just kidding about that first part, but Bruce as Elvis would have exponentially improved this movie.