Wine: Gifts for blood, love or money
Nothing says ďmerryĒ like a bottle of wine
Sometimes you get The Waltons, sometimes you get the Borgias ó it all
depends on the circumstances of birth. Whatever hand natureís assigned
to you, itís a fact that you must spend time with your family at
Christmastime and Hanukkah (which begins at sundown on Dec. 25). And
both celebrations, although religious, require gifts be given.
They say you can pick your friends but not your family, so sometimes
youíre stuck buying gifts for people who may be less than deserving.
Thatís where wine comes in.
Rather than a Rooster Tea Cozy from the Christmas Tree Shops, give a
bottle of something nice or cheap depending on your comfort level. You
donít have to love them, you just have to spend a major portion of your
holidays with them.
Here are some suggestions guaranteed to impart a false or even real
sense of familial bliss.
This can be for the family member whoís naughty or nice. If theyíre
really good (and maybe older and you stand a chance to get into the
will) then a nice half bottle of a dessert wine or good Bordeaux makes a
nice stocking stuffer. A sauterne like Chateau Rieussec ($27.99), which
pairs with salty cheeses, nuts or desserts, is for those you want to
impress. For that aunt or uncle who used to tease you and now lives
alone with their cats on a fixed income, half bottles are inexpensive
and perfect for that solitary dinner on the TV tray. Fetzer Valley Oaks
Chardonnay, $4.49, is nice and the recipient can have a glass without
the expense and danger of falling down, breaking a hip and moving in
with you to recuperate. Half bottles also present a economical way of
giving a wide variety of wines for the enthusiast to sample.
Perfect for the wine initiate to enjoy or just to have for a party. Itís
economical and the wine stays fresh. Peter Vella Chablis is crisp,
smooth and good for a picnic or informal gathering and, at $10.99 for
five liters, the heavy hitters in your family will be ecstatic without
breaking your budget.
This is an unusual gift for the wine enthusiast that wonít set you back
and wonít draw a ho-hum response. Elderberry, apple and even dandelion
are available and, while not in the same league as Far Niente ($49.99)
or Ferrari-Carano ($26.99) taste-wise, will make a memorable impression.
Try Eric Bordeletís Poire Authentique, Normandy Sparkling Pear Cider
($15.99) to kick it up a notch in taste and quality.
greatest wine gift Iíve ever heard was for one of those 30-something
unmarried cousins who still lives with his mother and collects Star Trek
memorabilia. The gifter soaked the label off a cheap bottle of
Australian Shiraz (try Rosemount Estates Cab/Merlot $6.99) and made
their own label for Klingon Blood Wine. The geek was thrilled!
Hereís what Iím drinking and giving as wine gifts this week:
2003 Cricklewood Pinot Noir, $16.99 ó Great New World burgundy from a
transplanted French vintner in Oregonís luscious Willamette Valley.
1998 Vina Mayor Reserva, $14.99 ó From Spainís premier region, Ribera
del Duero. Itís a little bit pinot, a little bit cabernet. Great taste,
smooth finish with a multiple flavored structure and no afterburn. 100
percent tempranillo grapes.
2001 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine, $26.44 ó
Named after a Washington State winemaking pioneer, this Bordeaux style
red is 56 percent cabernet, 37 percent merlot and 7 percent cabernet
franc. Very nice and elegant but Iíd love to taste this in six years
when the echoes of fruit explosion die down.
Manet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $13.99 ó Two different wine shops sang
its praises and I heard the chorus and loved it. One of the best
inexpensive wines ever. Drinks like a $30 Californian.
Merlot is Back!
Sick of those chemical-tasting cabernets? Switch back to merlot and see
why less really is more.
2001 Geyser Peak Merlot, $15.99 ó The tannic balance was perfect. The
fruit present but not obnoxious. Thank goodness the winemaker let nature
take her course and opted for gentle nudges, rather than creating some
Franken-wine monster. From Sonoma.