I’m not usually one to go out on a limb to provide gifts for a specific occasion, mostly because I am a very generous guy all year long. I feel, very strongly, gifts are just as worthy, or made even more so, when they are bestowed upon someone because you just felt generous; or the giftee did, said, or made you feel something that prompted you to be in the mood to give a gift. Got It?
In the spirit of that pontification, here are a few of the spirits I’ve tasted recently, that I would recommend for the lovers of libations that will lift their spirits and bring peace and happiness to their worlds.
Champagne: NV Bruno Paillard Extra Brut Première Cuvée, Champagne, France Rating: 94 | $50
This is the real deal; sparkling wine from Champagne, France. If you’re in the giving mood, you can never go wrong with this one. I mean really, who does not like Champagne? This wine has an ethereal airy texture to its bubbles that exudes luxury, with nuances of sea salt, almond and fresh baked apple pie. Caviar and blini’s will make a great start to you holiday festivities paired with this Champagne.
Red wine: 2013 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenère, Rapel Valley, Chile Rating: 92 | $20
Ok, so there might be someone you know who doesn’t start to swoon when the cork is popped on a fine bottle of Champagne. Well let’s get them a warm and generous bottle of red wine. No, not a wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot noir grapes. Try something exciting. Malbec is so meh these days, so why not a soft and spicy Carmenère. This 140th anniversary bottling from Santa Carolina is just the ticket. Bursting with bold berry aromas and hints of vanilla from the well-integrated oak aging regimen, smooth and lush the blackberry and plum flavors meld together with spice and chocolate creating a berry-mocha blend of awesomeness. This Carmenère is a perfect pairing with a Prime rib roast. Enjoy!
White wine: 2013 Hugel Estate Riesling, Alsace, France Rating: 91 | $40
Of course no matter how much you educate people about sulfites in wine, there is that certain inevitability someone did not get the message. There are generally more sulfites in white wines than red wines. Sulfite allergies are very rare and not likely the reason. Some people get headaches from red wines. Riesling is the first word that should roll of your tongue when advising libation gifts for those folks. This one from Hugel in Alsace is old-school and I mean that in the very best of ways. Minerality and floral notes with a hint of smokiness jump from the glass as it is poured, ripe peach and citrus zest flavors combined with luscious honeycomb make this a treat anytime of the year.
Port: Graham’s 10 Year Tawny Port, Portugal Rating: 91 | $36
Often the first time people try a real port wine from Portugal it’s usually the Ruby Red Port and that might not be the style for them. That being said, gifting this wine to someone opens up a whole new world of tastes and textures. Tawny ports are nutty and slightly sweet; this one in particular has notes of fruitcake, toffee and maple. It tastes a lot like a freshly made maple log from the doughnut shop. It will pair well with Stilton Cheese or a nice sheep milk cheese like one of Portugal’s finest, the rich and creamy Queijo Serra. Foie Gras and duck dishes also pair well, as will many holiday desserts like pecan or pumpkin pies and of course fruitcake.
Armed with all this viniferous wine buying knowledge, you can now safely make your last-minute libation gift purchases, getting yourself oh-so much closer to a Happy New Year!
Looking for additional gifts? Visit our Ultimate Gift Guide!