Inspiration for gifting the right wines.
A major challenge in navigating the holidays is choosing just the right gift for each person on your list. For grown-ups, wine is a great and personalized choice that just about everyone can appreciate. But with so many different styles and vintages, how do you know what to buy? And for the kids on your list … you need to find another source for advice!
Here are some recommendations to give you ideas and inspiration for what to buy this season. And here’s hoping this makes your trip to your local wine store a little easier and more enjoyable.
Most wine drinkers—especially experimental millennials—like a variety of types of wine, so the options are great. Since reds and fortified wines are generally best suited for the colder months, why not start there?
Doña Paula Estate Black Edition Red Blend Lujan de Cuyo 2013 (90 points James Suckling*, $14.99), from a sub-region of Mendoza in Argentina, combines the appeal of malbec and red blends—both very hot right now. A heavy, dark blend of 60% malbec, 37% cabernet sauvignon and 3% petit verdot, this wine will please California cabernet lovers, malbec enthusiasts and Bordeaux fans alike with aromas and flavors of herbs, plum, spices, blueberries and red pepper. These flavors are complemented by silky tannins and a long finish.
For the wine connoisseur or collector on your list, you may want something truly special. Joseph Phelps Vineyard Insignia Napa Valley 2013 (100 points Wine Advocate, $219.99) marks the 40th vintage of this world-renowned Napa Valley red Bordeaux blend. In my opinion, it may be the best in recent years, though the 2011 and 2012 that are still in stores are stunning as well.
The 2013 Insignia is a blend of 88% cabernet sauvignon, 5% petit verdot, 3% merlot, 3% malbec and 1% cabernet franc aged for 24 months in 100% new oak barrels. A deep, inky purple, this wine expresses aromas of blackberry, plum, flowers and espresso. Rich, concentrated flavors of dark fruit, vanilla bean, black pepper and chocolate combine with elegant tannins and well-integrated wood for a powerful experience. For optimal drinking, wait at least five to six years for the tannins to open up more fully. This beauty should continue to age well for up to 30 to 40 years.
Of course, many people prefer whites and drink them year round. The most popular white varietal is chardonnay and it’s an easy go-to if you’re not sure what style a person prefers.
Aged in 45% new French oak, 45% second-use French oak, and 10% stainless steel, Duckhorn Vineyards Chardonnay Napa Valley 2013 (90 points Wine Enthusiast, $31.99) is classic California style, done very elegantly. This wine has aromas of ripe peach, melon and lime with a hint of vanilla and pecan pie dough. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied and complex, with well-balanced acidity and flavors of apple, pear, lemon and sweet oak leading to a silky, long finish.
Another fantastic choice for white wine lovers is a sauvignon blanc. Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 (91 points Wine Enthusiast, $21.99) is a newer endeavor by Kevin Judd, the founder and winemaker behind Cloudy Bay. He allowed a portion of the juice for this wine to undergo spontaneous natural yeast fermentation, which adds complexity. Aromas of ripe pear, peach, apple, passion fruit and lemon jump out of the glass, with subtle notes of jasmine following. The palate is silky with intense flavors of fresh grass, stone fruits, melons and oranges.
For those who love sweeter wines, pick up Adesso Cagnina di Romagna Dolce 2015 ($9.99). This great-value red wine is made from 100% Refosco from Le Rocche Malatestiane, by a wine cooperative with 990 vine-growing members in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, south of Venice. Adesso is a low-alcohol, medium-bodied red with flavors of raspberry, cherry and spice that’s easy to drink, with medium sweetness.
Whether you need a bottle for ringing in the New Year, toasting an engagement, celebrating a family gathering, or just mixing a mimosa at brunch, some occasions simply demand sparkling wine.
Made from pinot noir grapes from ten grand cru villages in Montagne de Reims and Côte de Bouzy, Laurent-Perrier Brut Rosé NV (92 points Wine Spectator, $79.99) is a beautiful, elegant Champagne. The gorgeous salmon color comes from the red grape skins staying in contact with the juice for three days before fermentation. The wine has an expressive bouquet of orange, raspberry, ginger, flowers and stone. The palate is dry, creamy and well-balanced, with fine bubbles and peach, almond, red raspberry, white pepper, chalk and baked bread flavors. It ends with a long, crisp, floral finish. This Champagne is delicious with a variety of hors d’oeuvres.
For sparkling cocktails or toasts with large groups, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Cava is a great choice because it’s delicious and inexpensive, plus the bubbles stand up well to mixing!
Biutiful Cava Brut Nature NV (88 points Wine Enthusiast, $11.99) is a lively blend of 80% macabeo and 20% chardonnay from north-facing vineyards in Requena, Spain. Aged in the bottle for 15 months on the yeast cells, it has citrus and green apple aromas with a hint of celery and toast. On the palate, the wine is full and citrusy with bright tangerine, grapefruit and lime flavors and a long, crisp finish.
And if you are still not sure what to buy, stop by your local wine store and ask to speak to the wine specialist. There are so many more choices to match with every person on your holiday list.
Happy Holidays and cheers!
Kayleigh Thompson has worked in the wine industry for over six years and has earned the Certified Specialist of Wine certification from the Society of Wine Educators. She works as a Wine Specialist at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store in King of Prussia, now at its new location on DeKalb Pike. Learn more at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com.