Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Need a gift?

Last Minute Ideas for That Person You Forgot?
Your Go-To Shopping List

You just remembered that you didn’t buy a present for your brother-in-law/neighbor/ cousin/ (gasp!) wife! If they’re AWS members, you know the best gift is wine. It’s easy to get, doesn’t need to be wrapped (gift bags are cheap and easy) and it’s a five minute errand if they’ve got good cashiers at your local Fine Wine and Good Spirits store.

It could be even easier if you have something great in your cellar, but beware: some folk are self-professed wine snobs. (Example: You’ve been out to dinner with them and they won’t let you look at the wine list. They always order expensive, oaky California Chardonnays and Cabernets that don’t pair with the food. The same brands, every time. Needless to say, you don’t go out to dinner with them anymore). Be careful.

Enough about that.  You’re in a rush, so we won’t play around. We are not going to list brands because distribution varies in your local State Stores.

Here are six wine categories for someone special (or not so special):

Category I: The Big Red Lover

$40 or more

Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhône Valley tastes like strawberry jam sometimes with tobacco, pepper, and earthy flavors.

Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux (look for something from Pauilliac, St-Julien, or Margaux).

Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brunello di Montalcino, which is medium in style but ages very well so it’s a great gift.

Amarone or Barolo from Italy

$20 – $30

Vacqueryas from the southern Rhône Valley is a good approximation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape but cheaper!

You can still get Bordeaux in this price range. Look for vintages that won’t kill your wallet.

Australian Shiraz is great bargain at this price.

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is similar to a Napa Cabernet but for a lot less money.

Less than $20

Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. If you get one for more than $15, it will seem like a $25 bottle!

Wines from the south of Spain like Jumilla or Yecla are full and rich, and affordable!

Category II: The White Lover

$40 or more

A white Burgundy is amazing and can age. These can cost quite a bit, though. If you want to splurge, Montrachet, Corton, and Corton-Charlemagne are three exceptional places for Chardonnay.

Grand Cru Chablis (from Grenouilles or Valmur, for example) is great for someone who loves acidic wines, and these are great with food too).

Similar to a Burgundy but from California, Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay is phenomenal at $50. (The Judgement of Paris wine)

$20 – $30

You can get a Burgundy from a larger area like Chassagne-Montrachet and it will be delightful.

Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma is slightly oaky with tropical fruit flavors.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has grassy, grapefruit flavors, and great acidity.

For a wine with good acid and some different petrol and slate flavors, try dry Riesling from the Mosel in Germany.

Alsace Pinot Gris is oily, soft, floral, and spicy and great with food.

Under $20

Verdejo from northern Spain or Albariño are both light and great starters and seafood wines.

Torrontés from Argentina is great with cheese and terrific for folk who like aromatic wines.

Category III: Lighter or medium style reds

$40 or more

You can’t beat a bottle of Burgundy for a Pinot Noir lover. There is enormous range in style and price and especially vintage so research before buying.

Oregon Pinot Noir at this price is excellent as well (although at lower price points, not so much).

$20 – $30

A California Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley or from Mendocino will be excellent.

Lighter style Italian reds are great too. For example, a Chianti Classico, a Dolcetto, or a Barbera can be very high quality and still refreshing.

A Cru Beaujolais (NOT nouveau) is a fruity, easy to drink wine that people who like lighter reds will be sure to love.

Under $20

New Zealand Pinot Noir, even under $20, is outstanding.

Right Bank Merlot from St-Emilion doesn’t have to be expensive to be great. Plenty of great wines for below $20.

Some of the best lighter reds for under $20 are kind of unusual.  Zweigelt from Austria and Mencia from Bierzo in Northern Spain are great picks.

Category IV: Champagne and other sparkling

$40 or more

If you’re going to spend the money for Champagne, go for Dom Perignon.  Yes, its’s expensive, but it’s worth it if you’re going to be impressive.

Or, try Henriot, if you’re looking beyond the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot yellow label.

If you want American sparkling wine, Iron Horse makes terrific wines.

$20 – $30

Although you normally can’t get Champagne for this price, there are some great sparkling wines (especially from California) in this price that will fit the bill for you. Roederer Estate from California makes great sparkling wine and is owned by the Champagne House in France. Go for the Rosé for something special.

J from Sonoma in California makes a great sparkling wine that’s more affordable and available.

Under $20

Cava.  Go to Spain and don’t look back for the best value below $20.

France also has delicious, inexpensive sparkling wine.  Cremant from Limoux or Alsace are both good values

Although a totally different (more fruity, bigger bubbles) style, Prosecco is always a fun wine to give as a present.

Category V: For something different (prices vary depending on quality)

Whites: Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Verdejo from Spain, Chenin Blanc from South Africa, or Viognier from California are each interesting and unique. Or try a southern Italian white like Fiano di Avellino.

Reds: Nero d’Avola from Sicily, Chinon (Cabernet Franc) from the Loire Valley in France, Petite Sirah from California, Priorat from Spain, or Shiraz from South Africa are each special for your red wine lover.

Category VI: Don’t forget dessert!

For a chocolate lover, go for Port.

For a sweets lover, try an Icewine from Canada or Eiswein from Germany.

For an interesting treat, Banyuls from Southern France.

For a special treat, Tokaji from Hungary or Sauternes from Bordeaux in France.

We hope that this helps you to select something fantastic for that wine lover you may have overlooked! Don't forget to check the blog often for news, tips, recipes and other information.