Holiday Gifting Guide, Wine-Style 2023
Wines, Books, and Accessories for the Wine Lover
Every holiday I am asked, “What wine should I give as a gift for friends, colleagues, or customers?”. The answer: “Give the gift of their favorite wine or a wine book or wine accessory.” Always ask preferences on wine. “Will it be a sparkling domestic wine, a Champagne, a famous Napa Valley or Sonoma wine, a specialty Italian or Spanish Wine, or a traditional Bordeaux red or Provence Rosé?” You’ll notice I am focusing on rosé sparkling/Champagne this year. My 2023 travels to Champagne, Napa Valley, and Bordeaux have influenced my recommendations. See “LIVE from Bordeaux, France Press Tour”, August 8, 2023.
“What about a Wine Wanderings newsletter Gift Subscription?” “How about a celebrated wine book?” “What about a Wine Carrier, pouring aid, or Champagne Stopper?” “How about 12 or 24 Nights of Wine” samples…a great Advent gift. Depending on your budget and their preferences, here are some suggested wines and my favorite wine books for the wine lover on your holiday gift list. Let me know what’s on your shopping list.
I have had several business associates give this as a holiday gift, with great comments from the recipients. The paid subscription includes one-on-one consulting with me. This year I assisted with a wine tasting party, recommendations for a trip to Italy, and quizzing a student who was taking the Level 2 WSET® exam. She passed with honors!
Sparkling Wines and Champagne
Decanter Magazine, 96 Points
This is one of my new favorite Champagnes from Epernay. The color is medium salmon and the aromas are bright red raspberry, pink ginger, and ripe strawberry…perfect with smoked salmon or wild pork. 50% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier.
2009 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut with Gift Box, Champagne, France $390
Wine Enthusiast, 97 Points
Tasting/Gifting Note: This Champagne was created in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II for his personal use with its clear stylish bottle, designed to prevent his poisoning. The 2009 Vintage is a crisp balance of ripe fruit and texture that make it alive and bright. As it matures in the next 20 years, it will deepen and become more intense.
Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, NV Napa Valley $22
Wine Enthusiast 91 points
Tasting Note: A hearty 80% Pinot Noir grapes dominate in this sparkler and is rounded out with 20% Chardonnay. With a pink-salmon hue, it offers peach and wild strawberry aromas with flavors of succulent plum.
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Napa and Sonoma Wines
The most historic wine (1st) in Napa Valley,
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
See Interview: “Charles Krug: Napa Valley’s First Winery, 4th Generation-Driven,” Nov. 28, 2023
Wine Spectator, 92 Points
Made by the Davies family of Schramsberg sparkling wine fame, with celebrated winemaker Celia Welch as a consultant. Watch for an upcoming interview with Celia Welch soon on Wine Wanderings.
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
Perennially, my favorite Russian River winery. Watch for an upcoming Wine Wanderings interview about Gary Farrell Winery.
Specialty Italian and Spanish Wines
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
Tasting Note: This famous Tuscan wine is wonderful served with a Tuscan Steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina) or with aged pecorino cheese. Fresh aromas of wild berry, pressed violet and dark baking spices come together in the glass. Flavors include ripe black cherry, mature plum, cinnamon, licorice and a hint of tobacco. Drink until 2027.
2013 Clos Mogador, Priorat, Spain Red Blend, $130
Wine Spectator, 93 Points
Tasting Note: A celebrated Spanish wine from the renowned Priorat region this is an old-vine blend of Garnacha and Cariñena grapes with a touch of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This plush red wine delivers alluring flavors of cherry, kirsch, licorice, espresso and mineral with well-integrated tannins and vibrant orange peel acidity. Drink now through 2025.
Other French Wine Regions
2020 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux. $100
Perhaps I am slightly biased about this wine as I interviewed their GM/Owner, Oliver Bernard, August this year. See “Domaine de Chevalier: An Interview with Olivier Bernard.” This is one of the finest White Bordeaux wines in existence….lush and elegant.
Wine Enthusiast, 98 points, $160
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon
2015 Chateau d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé Cotes de Provence, France $30
Wine Enthusiast, 90 points
Tasting Note: This rosé is a lightly oaked Esclans with fresh, bright strawberry and white raspberry fruit, rose water notes and a hint of pepper.
Champagne/Sparkling Wine Stoppers
I have collected the (above) stoppers as I visited Champagne/domestic sparkler wineries, and they always reflect my favorite venues. I can’t tell you the number of parties I have attended where there is no Champagne stopper. Yes, it’s true we love our sparkers, but seriously, if you want to enjoy the remainder the following day, you need one of these pressure stoppers. Remember, sparkling wine has between 4 and 5 bars/atmospheres of pressure inside, with Prosecco between 1 and 4 bars, so we want to retain those bubbles. Amazon (pack of 6) and Crate & Barrel have stoppers available. Try to find one of your favorite stoppers in person like those from Schramsberg Winery, Champagne Pommery, Champagne Moet & Chandon, and Champagne Veuve Clicquot.
I have two of these carriers which I originally bought at wineries. I have saved $150-$300 in shipping per wine tasting trip by airline-checking these bags empty and returning with 2 mixed cases of wine. Over time these bags have saved me over $3000 in shipping.
Wine Barrel Stave Accessories
Wine Bottle and Glass Holder, Etsy, $25
My friends in Fredericksburg, Texas wine country swear by having this cool accessory: Wine barrel stave bottle and glass holder from Etsy.. Take your wine to the back patio and enjoy.
Barrel Stave Candle Holder for Votives, Etsy, $54
Select this centerpiece for your next wine tasting or wine pairing dinner: Barrel Stave Candle Holder – 7 candles.
New Wine Books for the Wine Lover
I have given these annual pocket guides as a holiday gift for the last 10 years. It is always much appreciated. Hugh Johnson is the co-author of The World Atlas of Wine.
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil, 3rd Edition, Hardcover $42.18, Paperback $26.49
Karen MacNeil, my Culinary Institute of America professor, and one of the foremost wine experts in the United States, offers her latest edition of this famous wine book. Her story telling about the making of wine and the world’s wine regions keeps the novice and the wine connoisseur alike engaged. Her unique voice notes: “in the great years, Pétrus is ravishing, elegant, and rich – Ingrid Bergman in red satin.”
Karen is the creator and Chairman Emeritus of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, which has been called the “Harvard” of wine education. She is a friend and was one of my first wine instructors.
12 Nights of Wine (or 24)
Vinebox does a superb job at these samples. I was given this gift a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the samples similar to an Advent 1-a-day tradition. You can select 12 or 24 Nights of Wine. Vinebox $199
Wine Wanderings Editorial Calendar
Sparkling Wines for the Holidays
Gary Farrell Winery: The Neighborhoods of Russian River Valley
2023 in Review: Wine Wanderings Most Viewed Newsletters
La Cité du Vin International Wine Museum Offering a Sensory Experience
Bella Winery, Sonoma, Dry Creek: A Zin Adventure
The Fine Champagnes of Billecart-Salmon
Chateau Montelena, and the 1976 Judgement of Paris Revisited
Cliff Lede Vineyards: Remastering the Rock & Roll Winery of Napa Valley
What is a Cooperage?
Grower Champagnes – Why are They the Darlings of Champagne?
The Loire Valley: Touring Chateau Chenonceau
Two Surprising Wineries of the Loire Valley: Montdomaine and Ambacia, Ancient Sites with Modern, Organic Approaches
The Martini – What’s New, What’s Old: Classic vs. Modern
Celia Welch: A Napa Valley Winemaker Legend
Understanding Right Bank Bordeaux: Pomerol and St. Emilion
Restaurants of Napa Valley
Cliff Lede – Rock and Roll Meets Wine/Stags Leap