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Books lead the list of wine-related Christmas gifts

By Dave Buchanan

Oh, the weather outside is … Well, yes, this is a family column so let’s leave it at “brisk but Christmas-like.”

Already the holiday season has been festive: Parker Carlson (Carlson Vineyards) enjoyed packed-house attendance last week during his three-day 25th Anniversary Holiday Open House and Eames Petersen (Alfred Eames Cellars) had his wine cave rocking with the Madrigal Choir during his Holiday Open House Dec. 1 at the Puesta del Sol Vineyards in Paonia.

If you missed those two, there still are two weeks to visit your favorite winery and stock up for the holidays.

The season of darkness finds most wineries on limited hours while some (particularly the smaller or more-isolated) close entirely for the winter.

Those still open enjoy your company and many are offering special discounts on wine and/or shipping, although it’s getting close to the deadline for out-of-state shipping and Christmas delivery. Call your winery for details.

Speaking of Christmas delivery, let me be bold enough to offer a few gift ideas for the wine lover on your list.

The posibilities are endless, and we'll cover some of your choices over the next week or so. Books, of course, even e-books, are always welcome, and this year you have many great choices.

The Daily Sentinel’s “Drink It In: Wine Guide for Western Colorado” ($19.95) not only is a terrific escort to the great variety of wineries on the Western Slope but also a bit of insight into the lives of those winemakers.

From Palisade and Paonia to Cortez and Bayfield, you’ll find something in these wineries to match your taste and pocketbook.

Plus, the full-color guide contains a handy, pull-out waterproof map for those summer bike rides along the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway. Available at the Daily Sentinel, Grand Valley Books, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and other local book sellers.

Last summer at a seminar during the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen, Master Sommelier Richard Betts, formerly of the Little Nell, was introduced as “the real mayor of Aspen.”

The audience laughed but there was more truth to the statement than some realized. The personable Betts, who describes wine “as a grocery, not a luxury” and is one of only 211 Master Sommeliers in the world, carried considerable power in the lofty Aspen society after he turned the wine list at the Little Nell into one of the world’s best.

Now living in Boulder, Betts turned his drive to make wine more accessible into his latest book, “The Essential Scatch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99). The book is reflects his personality: likeable, unassuming and a lot of fun.

And, yes, it’s really scratch and sniff, with 16 distinct scents amid dozens of delightful drawings, a truly irreverent yet educational tour of the world of wine. Available online and at Barnes & Noble.

Other books include two favorites, the newly revised “Windows on the World Wine Course” (Sterling Publishing, $27.95) by Kevin Zraly, one of the world’s leading wine educators, and Karen McNeil’s latest “Wine Bible,” (Workman Publishing, $19.95) which the late Robert Mondavi praised by calling it “the most complete wine book ever.”

And let’s not forget the just-issued seventh edition of the immensely informative “The World Atlas of Wine” (Mitchell Beazley, $55), by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, a book that’s immensely fun to peruse and dream and one that Eric Asimov of the New York Times termed “the single most important reference book on the shelf of any wine student.” All of the above are available online and at local booksellers.

And if books aren’t your style, there always is wine.

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