If you are like us, the passing of Thanksgiving means the beginning of holiday madness. Got the lights on the house yet? Is the tree up? Have you invited guests to the holiday feast or thought about the menu? How about those gifts that will be in short supply or hard to find? Time is wasting, let's get on with the anxiety.
To help in your quest to satisfy the wine enthusiast in your family we offer some unusual gifts and our recommendations for a special bottle of wine.
You can't go wrong with beautiful glasses that will accent a person's special wines. We love Riedel because the designs are both elegant and particular to the grape variety. A new series from Riedel and Nachtmann depart from the norm because they have a splash of color to the stemware. Called Fatto a Mano, the Riedel collection come in six colors and six bowl shapes that can be mixed and matched. Alas, they are $100 a stem so this would be for that VERY special friend.
If this is above your budget, consider Nachtmann Punk Tumblers ($19 a glass) for the man who likes his cocktails. Very detailed and available in clear crystal, copper, matte and gloss black, and red.
Riedel stemware can be found at William & Sonoma as well as many local wine shops. Or they are available online.
Now, here's something to put in those tumblers. If you have a gin fanatic in your circle, consider the Homemade Gin Kit ($50). It has everything a person needs to make his or her own gin: bottle, funnel, filter and juniper berries, botanicals, spices, and aromatics. Just start with a bottle of vodka, and in 36 hours, you have a hand-crafted gin to suit your gin palate.
We have several of these in our freezer ready to cool a white wine at the last minute or to keep a wine chilled on the patio in the summer. Inexpensive ones are available in department stores for $12, but Brina has made them more beautiful for the table. Made in Italy, the Brina collection comes in metallic, various colors as well as tactile fabrics like studs and faux fur. The price starts at a lofty $65, but they make a statement. https://brina.us/shop/
CUSTOM LABEL WINE
Chateau Souverain will put a person's name on a bottle of their cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, or sauvignon blanc for $14. Imagine your gift recipient seeing his or her name on the label. These can be labeled up for different occasions, too, such as birthdays, weddings, etc.
We all know letting a wine breathe frees up all those beautiful flavors and aromas. If you don't have the time to wait an hour or two, an aerator is a short cut. The simple device fits into a glass (and a holiday stocking) and expels the wine through tiny holes. They cost $25 to $30 and are made by Rabbit, Vinturi, and others. They are available in kitchen stores and online.
And here are some very special wines anyone would appreciate getting:
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Franc 2014 ($65). This venerable Napa Valley producer is well-known for its extraordinary cabernet sauvignon from Oakville ($62), but this reserve cabernet franc is special. Blended with cabernet sauvignon, malbec and merlot, the wine stands out as a sequoia in a forest of firs. Giant in scope, it unveils rich, hedonistic blueberry and blackberry flavors with a unami quality that soothes the palate. Generous violet and rosemary aromas.
Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve Red Wine Napa Valley 2014 ($65). A perennial favorite of ours, the BV Tapestry is an extraordinary and rich blend of cabernet sauvignon (76 percent), merlot, petit verdot, malbec and cabernet franc – the noble grapes that make up the Bordeaux profile. Using specific blocks of top grapes from four AVAs, the winemaker has crafted a complex and broadly flavored wine with fine tannins and a long finish.
Franciscan Estate Magnificat 2014 ($55). We have always liked this exotic and lush Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon (75 percent), merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc. Perhaps it is the rich texture or elegant style, or maybe it's just the balanced fruit character that we find so appealing. Ripe blackberries, black cherries and hints of mocha.
Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2013 ($52). Known for its complex, full-bodied wines, Vietti has another winner with this earthy barolo. Made entirely from nebbiolo grapes, the wine is aged in oak for 24-30 months before the parcels are blended. The aromas are elusive in its youth, but the approachable dark berry flavors and aggressive tannins portend good things to come.
Capensis South Africa Chardonnay 2014 ($80). From the Western Cape region, this bold and opulent chardonnay shows the capability of this region. Rich and buttery in style, it has ripe tropical fruit flavors, a dash of spice, vanillin oak, and soft mouthfeel.
Quilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2103 ($110). If you liked the full throttle experience that Joseph Wagner brought to pinot noir with Meomi, you’ll love this current release from his Copper Cane family of wines. Very deep and dense black cherry and berry nose and flavors with some chocolate and vanilla notes. Great to drink now.
Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($125). This iconic Chilean wine has been on Wine Spectator's Top 100 wine list seven times. From the Maipo Valley, it deserves the accolades. Dark red berries, cassis, a bit of chocolate, fine tannins and a lot of finesse.
Tasca d'Almerita "Il Tascante" Sicilia DOC 2014 ($50). Made from old vines grown on the northeast slope of Mt. Etna, this Nerello Mascalese has intense floral aromas and rich dark berry fruit flavors. Fine tannins and sensuous finish. Unique.