Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giving the Gift of Wine

Are you thinking about giving the gift of wine this holiday season, but not sure where to begin? Make your holiday wine gift-giving way easier by consulting this guide to wines that are sure to make someone’s holiday more jolly and bright.
Get some Clio for yourself, lay it down for 1 - 5 years and restock annually - always a special treat.

Start first by considering the type of wine lover you are shopping for. Is your giftee a casual imbiber, an eclectic wine enthusiast or someone who is dedicated to particular brands or styles?

The casual imbiber, being less rigid about likes and dislikes, tends to look at wine enjoyment as fun and social. Women who enjoy wine casually can gravitate towards white wines, sparklers and lighter reds, perhaps rosés too. Some of these wines might have a touch of sweetness, or be overtly sweet.

Wines gifts for the casual imbiber include Chardonnay and Moscato. The 2012 vintage was outstanding for Napa and Sonoma Chardonnay. For unexpected goodness, look north to Oregon (especially for their unoaked styles) or Washington. As for Moscato, Italy’s spritzy versions are sheer drinking delight. Michele Chiarlo’s 2013 Moscato d’Asti Nivole is dreamy, and a terrific bargain at $15.

The eclectic wine enthusiast is open-minded to a variety of wine styles. Being more adventurous wine drinkers, eclectics tend to appreciate less common varietals and bottlings from smaller, less well-known producers. Good choices for whites include floral Viognier or a rich Roussanne (Andrew Rich’s Roussanne is a perennial favorite and can be ordered online). Paso Robles' Tablas Creek makes consistently good Rhône white blends - try the 2012 Patelin de Tablas Blanc, $20.

If your eclectic giftee’s taste in reds tends towards lighter styles, zero in on an Oregon Pinot Noir from the ripe 2012 vintage. For heavier reds, look to Spain for mouthfilling Mourvèdre or to Washington for sumptuous Syrah. A stunning example of Mourvèdre comes from Jumilla, the smoky 2012 Clio, about $40. For Syrah, the JM 2012 Columbia Valley is a winner at about $45. If you're watching your holiday budget, you won’t go wrong with the Charles Smith 2013 Boom Boom! at $15. And don't forget Australia for terrific Syrah/Shiraz in all price ranges. Stateside, seduce the eclectics on your list with Syrah from Paso Robles (Alta Colina’s 2011 Toasted Slope, about $40) and Santa Barbara (Jaffurs 2012, about $30).

Devotees of certain wine brands or styles can be tough cookies to please in terms of wine gifts. If your brand fans like bubblies, Champagne is an excellent, though pricey choice. Go with the Champagne house whose wines your giftee usually orders at restaurants. If that’s out of your budget, consider the Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace or Calistoga’s Schramsberg (the brut blanc de blancs and rosé are equally tasty), both around $20. 

Brand-focused wine lovers will also appreciate the Caymus 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon 40th anniversary release. The festive label makes this bottling even more coveted, despite being widely available. Find it at local grocers and wine shops for about $55.

You're in luck if your giftee is a devoted Cab or Zin drinker who isn’t as fixated on brands themselves, giving you a bit more gift-giving leeway. Besides spendy Napa, look to Paso Robles for many winners (the Daou 2011 Cabernet overdelivers for less than $30) and Australia (the 2012 Mollydooker cabs, from $25-75). Smaller wine merchants such as Dan's Wine Shop, LA Wine Company and 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro often carry knockout Zins in a range of prices and styles. Ask for their advice to find the style that matches your giftee's tastes. 

Lastly, if you know that your giftee likes dessert wines or Ports, go with the outstanding 2011 vintage for a sure-fire Port pick.

Let us know about any great gift-giving wines you've found this holiday season in the comments section. Happy Holidays!

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