When it comes to holiday gift giving, it’s tempting to take the easy way out – a tie for dad, a fruitcake for the neighbor and a meat-and-cheese assortment for the office. If wine is on your gift list or holiday menu, though, you don’t want to cut corners…but how do you choose the perfect bottle that adds enjoyment and adventure to the holidays without blowing your budget? Seasons 52, the fresh grill and wine bar, has some answers for you, courtesy of Master Sommelier George Miliotes.
“With the holidays approaching, there is often the worry of what to serve when family comes to celebrate or what to wrap-up as a gift for friends,” says Miliotes, one of only 180 Master Sommeliers in the world. “Not to worry though. There are unique wines at all price points that not only pair well with holiday dishes, but are also great gifts.”
Miliotes offers these tips for selecting great wines for entertaining and gift giving during the holidays and beyond:
· Drink these before they are famous: Be an early-adopter! Impress your guests with great, well-priced wines from winemakers who are currently flying under the radar, but may soon become household names among wine enthusiast. Sure to be hits are Aveleda Vinho Verde, a light and refreshing white that everyone will enjoy (and is available at a great price point) and Crasto Red from Portugal, where an awakening in red wines is taking place.
· Big, bold cabs: Cabernets pair perfectly with rich, roasted red meats including holiday favorites like roast beef, rack of lamb and filet mignon. That’s because these bold reds refresh the palate after each bite. Consider South African choices such as De Toren Fusion V and Mulderbosch The Faithful Hound…they’re both high-quality cabs, and while not cheap, they certainly won’t break the bank either.
· Small grower champagne: Make a resolution toast the new year with something new this New Year’s – small grower champagne. These growers offer unique wines, showcasing the flavor of the land and the maker’s personal stamp of quality. The more famous champagnes are often born of blends of grapes from a myriad of growers and crafted for the masses. Small grower champagnes put maximum flavor and personality into the bottle, often without the big price tags of the big brands. Ask for Gimmonet, Chartogne-Talliet and Pierre Peters at a good wine shop and we guarantee you will be delighted.
· It’s best to taste-test: Before buying a wine, taste it and ask yourself whether you like it or not. That may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people buy wines they’ve never tried themselves. Don’t put too much emphasis on points, scores, reviews or price. And if you want a second opinion, ask your local wine merchant. Be sure to tell them your usual taste preferences and price range.
· Don’t be afraid of screw caps: Wine bottles with screw caps are fast becoming as readily available as those with corks and you’ll find plenty of high-quality wines under those easy-opening tops. They range from inexpensive but great value wines like Indaba Chardonnay and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to great Oregon Pinot Noirs like Chehalem or Scott Paul.
“Armed with these wine buying tips, there’s no reason to just grab the closest bottle of wine to the register,” says Miliotes, “you can give something that shows a lot more thought than just another tie or fruitcake.”