The Wine Curmudgeon holiday wine gift guide 2019 — great wine and even a wine coloring book
The Wine Curmudgeon’s holiday wine gift guide 2019 offers practical, value-oriented, yet still fun gifts. What else would you expect after all these years?
• This year’s collection of wine books was, sadly, a bit pretentious for the blog. But never fear: How about a wine coloring book? When Life Gets Complicated, I Wine ($13), with 12 colored pencils. Take that, wine snobs.
• The Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2018 ($29) is the current vintage of one of the best wines I have tasted in almost three decades of doing this. It’s a California wine made with the gamay grape in a region far, far off the tourist track. There usually isn’t much of it, so when I saw it on wine.com, it moved to the top of the holiday wish list. Highly recommended, and marvel at how this wine reflects the berry fruit of the gamay, as well as its terroir.
• Italy’s white wines are too often overlooked, and especially those made with the arneis grape. The Vetti Roero Arneis 2018 ($22) is one such example — almost nutty, with wonderful floral aromas and the soft, citrusy flavors. Drink it on its own, or with holiday seafood or poultry. Highly recommended.
• The Repour Wine Saver ($9 for a 4-pack) is a single-use stopper that preserves leftover wine one bottle at a time. In this, I was surprised at how well it works, and it’s not as expensive as more complicated systems like the VacuVin.
• Wine-Opoly ($21), because why shouldn’t we try to take over the wine world just like Big Wine? No dog or iron playing pieces in this wine-centric version of Monopolyl rather, they are wine bottles.
The best holiday wine gift advice: Buy what they want, not what you think they should want
Just in time for the blog’s holiday wine gift guide 2016– an article on rightpricewine.com citing the Wine Curmudgeon’s always sensible gift giving advice: “Buy wine that the person would like, not what you think they should like.”
That’s the thought behind this year’s gift suggestions, culled from interviews with retailers and consumers as well as the countless news releases I get during the holiday season. The trend this year? More wine and less accessories, with consumers deciding that gadgets aren’t as enjoyable in 2016 as a quality bottle of wine.
This year’s gift ideas:
• Chablis for the California chardonnay drinker who wants something different. Chablis, chardonnay from Burgundy in France, doesn’t have any oak. That means a more austere and more minerally wine, in contrast to the richer and more buttery California chardonnays. One possibility: Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis, about as much of a steal as a $20 wine can be.
• Trade up a cabernet sauvignon drinker who wants something more complex. The Faust, from Napa Valley, is the sort of $50 wine I wish I got to taste more often. It’s firmly rooted in Napa, made in a decidedly New World style, but it also shows that quality wine is about more than just flashy fruit.
• Koval rye whiskey, because the WC does not live by wine alone. I’ve been a rye drinker since the bad old days, when all you could find was what we fondly called Old Overcoat. The craft spirits boom has changed that, and the Koval ($50) is rye that is more than a bourbon knockoff, something spicy and intriguing.
More holiday wine gift guides
• Holiday wine gift guide 2015
• Holiday wine gift guide 2014
• Holiday wine gift guide 2013
• Expensive wine 89: Bonny Doon Old Telegram 2014
• Expensive wine 82: Anne Amie Winemaker’s Select Pinot Noir 2012
Holiday wine trends 2016: We’re spending the same amount of money, and spending it on rose and sauvignon blanc
Three things stand out in deciphering holiday wine trends 2016 after talking to retailers around the country:
• We’re going to spend money on wine this season, but not necessarily any more than we’ve spent in years past.
• Rose and sauvignon blanc, hardly traditional favorites, look to be big sellers.
• And all that talk about adventurous wine drinkers going off the beaten path for wine to drink? It’s just talk – cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and chardonnay are still the wines we’re buying for the holidays.
Price, first: Consumers are still looking for value, say retailers, and that’s true whether the wine costs $15 or $50. Robert Pennington of Pogo’s in Dallas (where the Wine Curmudgeon buys wine when the Cubs win the World Series) says his customers are finding tremendous value from France’s Rhone with red blends from $15 to $25, In this, he says, they may be gravitating from Spain, long the value leader.
As to rose and sauvignon blanc? They’re cheap, they’re mostly well made, and almost all of them offer tremendous value. Michael Osborn, the founder and vice president merchandising for Wine.com, says it seems that people who buy more expensive California wine are also buying sauvignon blanc – call it the second label for big red drinkers. They keep it in the fridge, often spending as little as $10 a bottle, for a glass before dinner.
Osborn also says that the rose naysayers, who thought pink wine’s surge in popularity was be a one-off (does anyone remember moscato?), should note that Wine.com’s rose sales grew almost 50 percent in the first 11 months of 2016.
And why the familiar? When you’re giving a gift, or even buying wine for yourself for a special occasion, you’re less likely to gamble, says Glenn Ehrlich, the co-owner of the Denver wine shop Corks. Trying something new is well and good for Tuesday night takeout, but when you need to buy the boss a present? Out with the odd, and in with the wine you know he is going to like.
“People need to splurge more on themselves,” he says. “They should take a chance and try something they normally wouldn’t try because it isn’t what they normally drink.”
This year’s holiday wine gift guide, despite my best efforts to find something incredibly silly, mostly sticks to the basics. And, as always, keep in mind that you ?re buying someone a gift they will like, and not something you think they should like because you know more about wine than they do. The 2015 holiday wine gift guide:
? Wine openers: Still don’t feel comfortable with a waiter’s corkscrew? The Vinomaster ($40) is a sturdier version of an old reliable, Metrokane’s Rabbit, and at more less the same price. I was impressed with how well put together it was, though it’s not quite as intuitive as the Rabbit. The Barvivo corkscrew ($15) is a nifty turn on the traditional waiter’s corkscrew, with a more flexible double hinge.
? Wine books: I would be remiss without mentioning Jon Thorsen’s “Reverse Wine Snob: How to buy and drink great wine” ($18), which follows up on the work he does on his Reverse Wine Snob website, regularly ranked among the top five most influential wine websites on the Internet. Also intriguing: “American Wine: A Coming-of-Age Story” ($30), by Tom Acitelli, which tries to tell the story of the U.S. wine business from the 1960s to today in English and not winespeak. It mostly succeeds, and has generated some criticism for its explanation of the growth — and popularity — of high alcohol wines.
? Wine: This is the year for something different, a wine made with grapes or from a region that you might not buy often (or at all). How about the Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling from Australia ($15, sample, 12.5%), a dry wine full of petrol and lemon? Or the Domaine Serol Les Originelles ($15, sample, 13.5%), a gamay from the Loire in France that is as fresh and intriguing as it is unusual?
? As silly as we’re getting: The ridiculously expensive Wine Sack ($70), which gives you a way to carry your box wine with you in a fashionable black carryall. The bladder inside the box that holds the wine slips inside the Wine Sack, and the bladder spout fits in an opening on the Wine Sack. Why ridiculously expensive? Because the point of box wine is how cheap it is, and do we really need an accessory for it that costs as much as 3 1/2 boxes? But it does look chic.
A combination post this year, for everyone caught short by the truncated holiday shopping season or who may have been iced in: Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, plus a couple of additional gift ideas. And anyone who wants an autographed copy of the cheap wine book needs to order from the website by Friday afternoon for holiday delivery:
? Red wine: Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2011 ($25, sample, 13.5%), one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year and which deserved more than the passing mention it got on the blog in September. This is a classic Washington state red blend with rich, black fruit and where the Washington state syrah stands out. Highly recommended, and a fine value at this price.
? White wine: The Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuv e Th o 2011 ($30, sample, 13.5%) was the highlight of an Alsatian riesling Twitter tasting this summer. It’s a complex wine with the requisite varietal character (some oiliness, lemon fruit) but still quite pleasant to drink in a way that some high-end Alsatian rieslings, which try to cram everything in, aren’t.
? Sparkling wine: Poema Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%), another excellent cava in both price and quality (and a tip ‘o the Curmudgeon’s fedora to reader James Phillips for suggesting it). Look for tight bubbles, very crisp golden delicious apple fruit, and even a little brioche, a yeast-like flavor that usually shows up only in Champagne.
? Wine book: The New California Wine, $35, by Jon Bonne, the wine editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. Bonne is one of the two or three best wine critics in the U.S., and his analysis of California wine — good and bad — is usually spot on. This is a great gift for anyone who wonders why California wine is so wonderful, except when it isn’t, and how the isn’t happens as often as it does.
? Wine glasses: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Forte, about $10 each. These are among the best so-called unbreakable crystal glasses, and crystal does make a difference. How unbreakable is unbreakable? Given my propensity for falling down more often than I plan, I can vouch for their sturdiness. They do break, but you have to make an effort.
More about Christmas wine and gifts:
? Holiday wine gift guide 2013
? Christmas wine 2012
? Wine of the week: King Estate Pinot Gris 2012
? Wine of the week: Dibon Brut Reserve NV
? Wine of the week: Hardys Nottage Hill Pinot Noir 2012