Bill Shepard, Wine Editor
This is the season to bring a bottle of wine to a dinner hostess. While you are thinking about that, why not also consider giving wine for holiday presents? Unlike another sweater, you can be sure that a well chosen wine present isn’t going to languish in a drawer. So let’s take a look at hostess wine gifts, and holiday gifts.
The main thing, as with all gifts, is to consider your own budget, and the tastes of the gift recipient. Let’s say you are going to a fine dinner, and want to compliment your hostess, and improve your chances of being invited again! You know that she likes full white wines, while her husband enjoys red Bordeaux.
Your budget is in the $35 range. One of the nicest gifts this time of year is a bottle of good, nonvintage French champagne. Within your price range, you could offer a Taittinger Brut “La Française($32),” or a more robust Möet et Chandon Impérial ($33), a very popular semi-sweet champagne. To please your host, you might try a bottle of Château Poujeaux 2000, a red wine of great character, from an exceptional Bordeaux year, which sells for less than its value. And another possibility would be a bottle of white Château Carbonnieux from a recent vintage ($37). This excellent blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes is the classic first wine served at fine dinners in Bordeaux.
If your friends would like something unusual, that compliments their good taste, bring a bottle of Cockburn “Special Reserve” Port ($16) with a pound of Stilton cheese, a great dessert. Or, for a lush and long-remembered treat, try a half bottle of Graham’s 20 year Tawny Port ($30).
Let’s say, you are considering Christmas gifts in the $50 or $100 range. That gives you broader scope. You might want to consider a fine cognac. I have found Rémy Martin’s 1738 Accord Royal to be an exceptional value, deep and flavorful, the peer of some XO cognacs at nearly twice the price.
There has been a string of fine vintages in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, culminating in excellent wines in 2005 and 2007. Three of these savory, fullbodied wines would make a splendid wine basket. Try a Pierre Usseglio 2005 ($27), a Bousquet des Papes “A La Gloire de Mon Grand Pére ($40), and a Grand Veneur 2007 ($35).
You may prefer to offer one superior wine. From Burgundy, I would suggest a bottle of Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges “Les Chènes Carteaux” 2005 ($70). It is a fine first growth from a region where first growths set the standard. From Bordeaux, you might consider a bottle of Château Dauzac 2005 ($50), an improving wine from the Margaux region, and a good buy from a superior vintage. We have greatly enjoyed a case of Château Dauzac from the storied 1983 vintage, long before its present turnaround was underway. Add a bottle of Roederer nonvintage Brut champagne ($34) to either gift for a special occasion.
It’s New Year’s Day, and you have decided on dinner with a Dickens theme, with roast goose. This is a once a year feast, that you will want to accompany with a superior wine. Try decanting a magnum of Font de Michelle “Étienne Gonnet” Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 ($60). Magnums are an unusual treat, that say this dinner is a special occasion. Also, it’s the perfect way to start 2010, the year that the economy recovers and your investments prosper. Guaranteed!
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