It’s that time of year: Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years---as well as hostess gifts for all of those holiday parties. Below is a list of ideas for wine lovers on your list---organized by price.
Alsatian Gewurztraminer is a perfect pairing for holiday turkey. I often serve a glass of Pinot Noir and a glass of this dry Gewurztraminer with holiday dinners and ask everyone to choose their favorite pairing. Nine times out of ten, the Gewurz wins. Favorite producers include Albert Mann, Trimbach and Weinbach. Prices ranges from $25 to $75, depending on if it is a Grand Cru.
Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge. Made in Bordeaux, Lillet is a delightful aperitif that has become very popular in the USA, particularly over the last 10 years. The white version ("blanc") is distilled from Bordeaux’s Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion grapes; the red from the region’s Cabernet & Merlot. I like to give the two bottles as a gift set and include a hand-written recipe for a divine cocktail that uses both (i.e. equal parts of Lillet Blanc, Rouge & tonic water with an orange slice). $40 per duo
Sticking with the aperitif theme and another pair of bottles that are perfectly matched for gifting, Aperol and Prosecco are a match made in heaven. An Aperol Spritz (a 50-50 mixture of the two) is all the rage in Italy. While it originated in the Venice region, these colorful drinks have to be Italy’s most popular drink…outside of wine and espresso. Love, love, love this drink. $40 for the two
Ferghenttina’s sparkling wine comes in a sensational pyramid-shaped bottle designed by the owner of the winery. (The bottle’s design maximizes the yeast’s contact with the wine during the second fermentation in the bottle which supposedly leads to greater flavors and aromas.) But, it’s not only the bottle that is special. Made in the exact method that Champagne is made in France, this Italian high-end version is no knock-off…in fact, it could compete right up there with the best Champagne houses. Aged on the lees for three years, there is a rosé version made from Pinot Noir, or a white one made from 100% Chardonnay. Both are real stunners. $55-65
You can never go wrong in gifting a bottle of French Champagne. I have two recommendations, both non-vintage, that are guaranteed to win over even the most discerning oenophile. First, is Ployez-Jacquemart, a small family-owned Champagne House that produces premier wines. It’s difficult to find, but worth seeking out online for a great quality price ratio of about $50. The latter is the most decadent gift on this list---a Champagne made by Baron Rothschild. The Baron’s empire is in Bordeaux, however, he does produce a small amount of Champagne. Dear friends gifted me a bottle of this deliciously rich and complex Chardonnay-dominant bubbly on a recent birthday (BTW, they bought it at Costco but I’ve learned that only certain stores received a few precious bottles). $95-120