Today's Guerrilla Gourmand post is perfect for the holidays, so grab your pen and be sure to take a few notes, thanks G.G!
(photo from marthastewart.com)
‘Tis the season… to enjoy being with your friends and family! So when you show up at their doorstep to eat their food, why not give your loved ones something they’ll enjoy this holiday season, without breaking the bank?
Giving gifts of wines to friends, family or even to a dinner party host or hostess can be a tricky affair. People have different tastes. Sweet? Dry? Sophisticated and subtle? Or Forward and Bold? If you know their favorite wines, then by all means, make your gift personalized by going to your wine merchant and asking their recommendations on wines based on your host’s favorites.
But let’s face it, most times we don’t know what the recipient would really like. So what should we give? Here are my top suggestions for “giftable” wines:
1) A Champagne or sparkling wine
Who doesn’t love a sparkler? It’s symbolic of celebration and happiness. Most people don’t buy them for regular consumption as a result. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t enjoy a champagne or sparkling wine. So, get them one!
The best part of it is, even if they don’t like it, they can always add some orange juice and call it a mimosa to help it go down smoother. (You could also try mango juice with a splash of lime – yummy!)
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut
a) Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut, $55. This is a deliciously clean champagne, with smaller bubbles. It is actually my favorite, because I like my champagnes clean and dependable. It’s a bit of a splurge, but if it’s a very fancy Christmas or New Year’s dinner party, you can impress with this one.
b) Domaine St. Michelle Brut, $10-$15. This is a fabulous sparkling wine from Washington state and highly recommended. During a blind taste test by 500 volunteers, more people preferred this sparkler to a 100-hundred dollar bottle of Dom Perignon! (For the full story, check out “The Wine Trials” by Robin Goldstein, which reports upon this and other surprising findings.)
c) Bernard-Massard Brut, $10. This sparkling wine from the tiny country of Luxembourg is our current favorite for everyday dining, mimosas and celebrations. Likely hard to find, but if you happen across it at this price, try it!
Graham’s Six Grapes Ruby port
2) Fortified wines
Just like most people only open a bottle of bubbly for a celebration, most people do not consider buying themselves a bottle of fortified wine. Fortified wines also seem to be in the realm of “special occasion wines” and therefore are perfect to give as gifts, particularly for those who like to go on wine-and-food-pairing adventures! So, get them a bottle of “sticky” and also give them a pairing suggestion!
a) a bottle of Graham’s Six Grapes Ruby port ($25) and dark chocolate (70% - 80% cocoa content) – a perfect end to a perfect dinner! You can also consider Late-Bottle Vintage (LBV) ruby ports for the same pairing. Chocolate and wine: who can resist?
b) a Galway Pipe tawny port ($30) and dried figs stuffed with toasted almonds is my husband’s favorite pairing. Personally, I think it goes better with a pecan pie! Not all people’s tastes are as sophisticated as his, so reserve the tawny ports for your more adventurous friends. You could also try the same pairings with a tawny from Graham’s or from Fonseca.
c) a Tokaj (pronounced “tow-KAI”, $25) from Hungary and a cheesecake. This will be featured during our upcoming Christmas dinner!
3) Wine drinking accessories
a) Wine glasses: I am a firm believer in cheap glassware! Sure, you could buy one Riedel wine glass for $20 and that would make a great present. But give the gift that keeps giving – people will use cheap glasses everyday, and reserve the nice ones for “sometime special”. Go ahead and get them glasses for everyday enjoyment!
Just a couple words of advice: get them clear, big glasses that taper in (i.e. not tulip glasses). Clear, so that they can look at their wines; big, so that they can swish the wine in the glass to release lovely aromas; and ones that taper in, so that they can smell these sweet aromas! A set of six such glasses would cost you less than $10 at IKEA.
b) Screwpull wine opener, $20: This is admittedly our favorite gift to give to newly engaged or wedded couples. It’s an effortless wine opener, where all you need is to turn the corkscrew – no force is required to pull the cork from the bottle. Ingenious design!
Hopefully you have found some inspiration in this list of gift ideas. Feel free to post your favorite wine-inspired gift ideas, too!
Happy Holidays and all the best this season and beyond, from the Guerilla Gourmand!