With the gift-giving season again upon us, the age-old question of what to buy is in the air more than snowflakes. Of course wine is always a good gift; it’s easy to wrap and comes in every price point. So whether you are buying for a Secret Santa or your favorite uncle to stay in the will, there are lots of great choices.
If you aren’t sure whether your recipient likes white or red, you can never go wrong with a good bottle of Chardonnay. The oaky flavor can be satisfying, and people can always keep it on hand for visitors who drink white.
Secret Santa gifts often come with a budget requirement, maybe $10 - $20. I suggest Chardonnay or Riesling, both of which can be found for that price. Word of warning; watch out for the Christmas-themed wines. They often do not have a vintage date so you can’t be sure of their age. Perhaps it came from this vintage or maybe it’s been stored in the back room from Christmases past. Another option in this budget range is one of the pastry-themed wines like Cupcake Red Velvet or Layer Cake. There are plenty of cute options for this gift-giving event. Beaujolais Nouveau is also released in late November and is usually in this price range. This light fruity red is a seasonal favorite.
The savvy shopper looking for the middle-priced tier will find a good selection of red Bordeaux wine from the 2009 and 2010 vintages. Both vintages are being touted as excellent in quality, with all price points from $10 to crazy high. Look for wines from the St. Emilion or Pomeral designations; these blends contain mostly Merlot, so they tend to be softer and more user friendly.
At this time of year, Wine Spectator makes the wine buyer’s life easy and miserable at the same time. Its annual list of the top 100 wines brings out the inner scavenger hunter in many people. The criteria are supposedly score, price and availability. However, for the last few years the top ten wines have been limited and expensive. In fact, the vintages listed are usually already sold out by the time the magazine hits the shelves. The next vintage is what you can find on the shelves. However, if you can find that one in ten gem, it will make you the Christmas winner.
When all else fails, the wine gift certificate is always a winner. Any self-respecting wine shop in town will have these available in any denomination, guaranteeing that the Rhone aficionado will get his Rhone and the Merlot lover will get her Merlot. So put up the stocking and fill it with Holiday cheer!
Here are a few of Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines available in our market
Blau Montsant Spain #33
Chapoutier Bila Haut 2010 #38
Folonari Chianti 2010 #41
Anselmi San Vincenzo 2010 white #46
Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superiore #47
Atalaya Spain #54