Giving the gift of wine is always in style, but knowing what type or vintage to get is even better. Like any other gift, it should be something you contemplate, instead of just quickly popping into your local liquor store and grabbing the first bottle you see. The same goes for serving wine during holiday gatherings. If you are not a wine connoisseur, there are various resources online or at your local LCBO, but here are what the experts suggest.
Tony Aspler, a well-respected wine writer, and author of The Wine Atlas Of Canada (Random House), says that the trends this holiday season are Pinot Noir or Grigio and Australian Reds, especially Shiraz. Another good option, according to Aspler, is sparking wine. "If you can’t afford French Champagne (such as from) Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger or Veuve Clicquot, try Prosecco from Veneto," he says. If you opt for the French ones, note that price is partially determined by the vintage of the bottle.
These options are great for serving to guests this festive season, or giving as gifts to anyone on your list — the wine beginner or enthusiast. Check out Aspler’s website (www.tonyaspler.com), or his various books for an in-depth understanding of wine.
It is important to pay special attention to the person who will be receiving the gift, especially if they have a taste for a particular type of wine. "At gift-giving time, people are thinking about the person they are giving it to," says Michael Fagan, a wine expert at the LCBO. "Let’s say they’re an Australian Shiraz fan, then look for maybe a more premium (one) that they are not likely to buy for themselves."
He mentions that many consumers are looking for products that come in neat packaging or in a unique gift box. "A lot of people are also giving a bottle of wine with a gift certificate for a four-week wine learning program," he says. "It’s nice for enthusiasts who are just starting to understand wine."
For more information:
Michael Fagan picks: Gift ideas for the holiday season
•Veuve Clicquot Traveller, Champagne (France), Veuve Clicquot, $102.95 (750 ml)
•Moscato Casa Bottega + 2 Flutes Gift Box Veneto (Italy), Distilleria Bottega, $24.95 (750ml)
•Henry of Pelham Riesling Gift Cylinder, Ontario, Henry of Pelham, $24.95 (375 ml)
•Mouton Cadet Gift Tin, Bordeaux (France), Baron Philippe De Rothschild, $29.70 (1500 ml)
For the collector
Low to mid-range price:
•Château Gloria 2001 Bordeaux (France), Nath. Johnston & Fils, $49.00 (750ml)
High-end price range:
•Château Léoville-Las Cases 2003 Bordeaux (France), Bordeaux Millesimes, $390 (750ml)
Michael Fagan picks: Gift ideas by personality type
•Rossini, which is classified as a wine cooler
•Champagne or a non-French sparkling wine
•New Zealand Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc
•First Growth Bordeaux or Vintage Port
•New World Shiraz
•Port, Vintage or Cognac
Super mom/devoted dad
•Pinot Grigio or Shiraz
•Wine products in Tetra or alternative packaging
•Organic wine, such as Bonterra from California)
Tony Aspler picks: To serve or gift
If you can’t afford French Champagne, try these brands, available at the LCBO:
- Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco (white sparking wine), Italy, Distilleria Bottega, $13.10 (750ml)
- Cuvée Catherine Brut Rosé (rose sparkling wine), Ontario, Henry of Pelham, $29.95 (750ml)
Trendy wines for the wine aficionado
- The Futures Shiraz 2003 (red wine), Australia, Peter Lehmann, $31.95 (750ml)
- Ornellaia Le Volte 2004 (red wine), Tuscany, Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, $24.95 (750ml)
- Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre 2003 (red wine), California, Cline Cellars, $19.95 (750 ml)
Trendy wines for the beginner
- The Little Penguin Chardonnay (white wine), Australia, Southcorp Wines, $10.95 (750 ml)
- Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Grigio (white wine) British Columbia, Mission Hill Vineyards, $13.95 (750 ml)
- Sawmill Creek Merlot Tetra (red wine), Ontario, Vincor International, $10.95 (100ml)
- MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (red wine) Chile, Vina Montgras, $11.75 (750ml)
- MontGras Chardonnay Reserva 2005 (white wine), Chile, Vina Montgras, $11.95 (750ml)