This post is appearing in BlackBook Magazine's House Special Section. This is a republish for the blog...
Inevitably there is one person on your Christmas list who
a.) you’ve procrastinated buying for because they are ridiculously picky;
b.) you completely forgot you needed to get something for;
c.) got you something, and now you have to reciprocate.
Never fear: unless they’re a teetotaler (which should have you questioning why you’re friends with them in the first place), wine is the best gift to give. For $15 you can get someone a solid bottle that will taste delicious if it’s opened with the Christmas goose this week.
If you have a little more to spend, you can get a bottle for $25-$30 that will have you looking like a wine connoisseur. Better still, if you play your cards right, the person can age the wine for 3 to 5 years, and hopefully they’ll wait to open it until you come over to their house for dinner! It’s like a present for you and for them.
But what to buy?
There are amazing deals on wine right now, and if you are looking for something in the $25-$30 range, you can get bottles that are good today and will be lights-out in about 3 to 5 years. Wines that are sure to impress and age gracefully come from many places, but Europe’s got a treasure trove for age-able goodness, and it’s my pick for the best place to look. So for $25-$30…
• For a big, complex, age-able red try a Bordeaux, specifically from the Medoc, Graves, or Pommerol. 2005 was a historically amazing vintage and 2006 was pretty great, too, so look for those years on the bottle.
• Premier Cru from Burgundy will be amazing in a few years. Go for a red (Pinot Noir) with earthy, velvety flavors, or a white (Chardonnay) that has solid acidity yet creamy, tropical fruit, and butterscotch flavors as it gets older.
• The Northern Rhône makes delicious Syrah that tastes like dark fruit, herbs, and meat (no joke)—look for Crozes-Hermitage, which is affordable and terrific.
• Italy makes some darn fine wine. The best stuff is red and it’s expensive. Forgo the Barolo for its little, softer sister, Barbaresco—a delicious choice that will stretch your buck.
• Or try Spain and go for a Rioja Reserva, which has been aged for 3 years by the time you get it, but can stand another 3 to 5 more in the bottle. This baby will be full of spice, leather, and complex earthy flavors when you pair it with tapas.
• Napa Cabernet can be unreliable for long-term aging, but to drink in the next few years you can get great wines right now at bargain prices. Take advantage of the bad economy and get a steal from Napa’s Stags Leap District.
• Finally, if your friend or family member likes sweet wines, go for a 10-year old Tawny Port from Portugal, or an Eiswein from Germany or Canada.
Think about who you have in mind and take care of that shopping now! Happy Holidays.