All they want for Christmas is a good bottle, or two, of wine
What do you get for the wine lover on your Christmas list?
If you’ve procrastinated until now to make that decision, you face limited options even with the blessing of overnight delivery.
However, before you run headlong into every holiday advertising campaign aimed at separating you from your money, it’s wise to heed the advice of Eric Asimov, wine columnist for the New York Times.
Asimov says don’t let the fancy gadgets (who needs a reindeer bottle stopper or electric cork remover?) turn your head.
“Please, save your boxers with the intricate cork design, your battery-powered aerators that promise to age a wine 10 years in 30 seconds, your genuine personalized oak wine barrels,” writes Asimov in the Dec. 14 issue of the Times. “Bottles are what’s wanted. Good bottles.”
At first glance, buying wine seems the easy way out, but there’s a certain caveat in taking this route.
First, there’s simply the vast selection from which to choose.
Is your recipient a pinot noir lover or a Bordeaux fan?
Would that person even appreciate a sauvignon blanc or would he or she prefer a pinot gris or chenin blanc?
Decisions, decisions and that’s just the start.
If the wine gift is meant as an addition to an existing wine collection, you have to remember a personal wine collection often is more than simply an amalgamation of bottles.
In some cases, personal collections may follow a theme or pattern of grape varietals or vintages or wine regions.
In some cellars, each bottle carries its own memories, perhaps marking a special occasion (or waiting for a certain special occasion) or a memorable vintage.
If you want to add to someone’s wine cellar, try to find a wine they don’t already have or perhaps the hard-to-find bottle that fills a hole in the receiver’s collection.
Of course, the biggest drawback to giving wine is you probably won’t be there when it’s opened.
So if you give a bottle that you would like to taste, it’s probably wise to purchase two and save one for your own special occasion.
Wine glasses always are a good gift, and each year there are more brands available offering decent to excellent wine glasses.
Glasses (also known as stemware) with cut edges rather than rolled edges are easier to drink from and are a bit more elegant.
The bowls should be spacious enough to hold a decent-sized pour and allow for plenty of swirling and sniffing.
Colored or tinted glasses aren’t recommended as they hide the color of the wine and admiring a wine’s hues not only tells you much about the wine itself but also is one of the many pleasures of enjoying wine.
You can get decent, inexpensive, everyday quality (and dishwasher proof) glasses from such makers as Libby or you can splurge for lead-crystal stemware from Riedel, Spiegelau or Stotzle.
George Riedel has earned the reputation as the most influential man in wine-glass design and while his company offers a glass for nearly every imaginable wine, the Bordeaux Vinum might be the most versatile design.
Most of us can’t afford the entire line of Riedel glassware, so it’s great to find a glass that works for most wines. Riedel’s line of Spiegelau glassware is less-expensive (has a lower lead-crystal content) but certainly is several steps up from what most people use on a daily basis.
Spiegelau glassware often can be found in liquor stores around the valley.
One gift you can enjoy on the day you give it is a decanter. Not all, and it’s safe to say most, wines don’t need decanting, but a cut-glass or crystal decanter not only looks great but adds to the ceremony of drinking good wine.
“I prefer to decant wines, both young and old,” says French winemaker Christian Moueix. “It is a sign of respect for old wines and a sign of confidence in young wines.”
I’ve decanted wines into glass pitchers (one had “Coors Light” emblazoned on the side, which gives you an idea of my budget) but a real decanter, whether it’s a simple duck-shaped decanter or the elegant but pricey ($420) “Eve” model from Riedel, really adds a very special glow to a holiday table.
No matter what your wine-lover finds under the tree, the joy is in sharing.
I hope your holiday is spent enjoying the abundance of our lives.