Wine Cheer and Tidings: for the Wine Lovers on Your List

13 Dec

This time of year, we struggle to get ideas for those that we love, like, work with and like, work with and don’t like (but have to buy for), and relatives. Suppose they like wine a lot. Here’s some suggestions and remember play it safe don’t drink (too much) and decorate!

Books, subscriptions and cool websites
A book that looks at the vine in a way that wine geeks need apply is How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto ( $16.92) by Eric Asimov, New York Times chief wine critic. Ontario wine writer, Natalie MacLean has been busy with her latest book, Unquenchable (, $14.40), a worthy sequel to her best seller Red, White, and Drunk All Over.

No to both of these worthy suggestions, then I’d suggest a wine web site subscription. Building a cellar? ($99 per annum). Just starting to get more than a little crazy about wine? She is not only busy with books, but is a relaxed and fun approach, even if a bit heavy on the ads ($24.95 per annum). Looking for the Canadian perspective? (it’s free! But they don’t have to know).

Have a traditionalist on the list? Consider opting for a magazine subscription. Wine Spectator is expensive at $80.00 a year,  but it is quality and maybe your beneficiary is worth it! I am a big fan of Wine and Spirits, ($39.95 per annum), it is very educational even if in a cursory way. I also love the Wine Enthusiast, ($29.95 per annum) for its recommendations, and travel and dining features.

Wine Cellar Maintenance 

What about the person who has a large wine collection, but no organization or tracking? An online subscription to CellarTracker is beautiful and a fun time.  It helps you build a database of your cellar including drinking windows, reviews and other tracker’s tasting notes.   For $36 per year for up to 499 bottles, it’s good value and a lot of fun. Did I already mention that?

Wine Glasses and Paraphernalia
Wine glasses are always cool and a wine lover likes to think that the glass is über important. Riedel has the best name recognition in wine glasses. They have grape specific glasses – so, glasses for pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, etc. They also have generic red and white glasses. They say, “I didn’t buy you a set, just two because you know how damn expensive these are.” Available at most good kitchen and dinnerware stores. Priced anywhere from $25 to $55 a glass plus.  Similarly priced glasses from Eisch are breathable and aerate the wine as it sits in the glass. I’m not kidding, it works and is cool. Also varietal specific, or generic. Both are available at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Got all of that covered? Then, I’d recommend some wine geek paraphernalia. I would argue the best corkscrews are from Laguiole ($24.95 to $180+) at Rosehill Wine Cellars and many kitchen gadget stores. A less expensive but very good sommelier’s cork screw is offered by Trudeau. Do not, I repeat, do not get one of those rabbit ear things, they break. Got a Laguiole or Trudeau? Get a Vacu Vin to preserve leftover wine in the bottle. I know, I know, there shouldn’t be any left. But, let’s just make believe that you drink less than a full bottle at a sitting.

Best Holiday Cheer
What about something to drink? It goes without saying that you can’t go wrong with a good bottle of the vino. Wine is always a hit.

Upper price range: Bordeaux from (’08, ’09), Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Napa Cabernet, Red Burgundy.  Best bets: Pian Della Vigne #651141 $59.95, Ascheri Pisapola Barolo #739920 $42.95, Freemark Abbey #904532 $39.95, Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin #240424 $44.95.

Mid price range – Spanish Rioja, Niagara Pinot Noir, Italian Ripasso Valpolicella, Tuscan, Côtes du Rhone. Best bets: Muga Reserva #177345 $23.95), Flat Rock Pinot Noir #1545 $19.95, Tommasi Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #910430 $22.95,  Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico #606541 $19.95, Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Villages #321539 $18.95.

Lower price range: Argentinean Malbec, Niagara Red, Rhone again, Chilean Red.  Best bets: Trapiche Broquel Malbec #234385 $14.95, Creekside Shiraz #66654 $15.95, La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux #2636640 $11.90, anything from Casillero del Diablo @ $12.95.

Upper price range: White Burgundy, California Chardonnay. Best bets: Domaine Latour-Giraud Cuvee Maxime Charles Meusault #299784 $44.95, Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay #1537 $65.95.

Mid price range: German Riesling, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Ontario Chardonnay. Best bets: Dr. Loosen Red Slate Riesling Dry #295923 $19.95, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc #35386 $16.95 on sale!,  Malivoire Chardonnay #573147 $19.95.

Lower price range:  Italian Pinot Grigio, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Niagara Riesling. Best bets: Bollini Pinot Grigio Trevento #951319 $16.95,  Casillero del Diablo #578641 $9.95, Cave Spring Riesling Dry #233635 $14.95.

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