Choosing the perfect gift for a wine lover | AspenTimes.com

Choosing the perfect gift for a wine lover

Kelly J. Hayes

Ah, Christmas.It is the time of year for gift-giving and if you have friends who are fans of food and wine, obviously gifts from the world of food and wine are in order.As we are already into the final shopping days before the Big Day, wine starts to become an excellent last-minute choice. Looking back over the last six months, there were a number of fine wines that appeared in this column that would fit the bill for holiday giving.In a summer story on pairing wine with Thai cuisine, we suggested a bottle of the Robert Sinsky Abraxis, a pleasing blend of four different grapes Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris this stunner in a long-necked bottle would also pair perfectly with Christmas fowl.If you prefer to go with a solid red for the holiday repast, then a bottle of last years Wine Spectator Wine of the Year, the Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2001, would surely send seasonal cheer. And never underestimate the giving value of a good sparkling wine. We recently discussed the Domaine Chandon Etoile Rose 2001, a pink sparkler that will be a perfect pre-dinner, late-night or even New Years Eve celebration in a glass.Of course the thing about wine is that once it is opened and enjoyed, it leaves nothing but an empty bottle and a memory. What to do? How about a gift that keeps on giving?You can give a membership to a wine-of-the-month club at wine.com. For $19.99 to $69.99 a month, theyll send two bottles of wine to your chosen recipient. The quality of the wine goes up according to price, but even at the lowest levels your friends are sure to receive drinkable juice and will no doubt toast to your health at least once a month.If your friends are fans of a particular vineyard, then you might consider going on that vineyards website to see if they have a members club. Many wineries have set up groups that have the right to purchase pre-release and hard-to-find wines directly from the winery. Then there is the hardware of wine. The corkscrews and glasses. Stemware from Riedel is always a welcome gift, even if your friends already have a worthy collection of wine glasses. Many enjoy the stemless O series with flat bottoms and wine-specific shaped bowls.And never underestimate the value of a good book. The Aspen Bookshop in The Little Nell has a fine collection, as does Town Center Booksellers in Basalt. If you have friends who have little knowledge but big thirsts, try Wine for Dummies by Mary Ewing Mulligan and Ed McCarthy. It may sound remedial, but Mulligan and McCarthy do an excellent job of covering the basics from the big wide world of wine.If pictures of vineyards make you thirst for great wine, then any of Andy Katzs remarkable books will fit the bill. Katz, who comes to the Food & Wine Classic at Aspen to show his work yearly, has traveled the world shooting vineyards at dawn and beyond. His book The Heart of Burgundy will transport you to the Cote dOr for a fraction of the price of a ticket.For more serious study, try The World Atlas of Wine, Sixth Edition. This essential, written by British experts Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, spans the globe and provides a visual guide to the great vineyards and wineries, as well as a compendium of the great winemakers and labels. This is one book that every oenophile ought to have cellar-side. And then, for the lover of history, there is George Tabors Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine. This fine read details how Warren Winarskis first vintage of California Cabernet, the 1973 Stags Leap Cellars SLV, was named to the top spot in a blind tasting of California and French wines in Paris. The reverberations of that bicentennial event ring to this day. No matter what you give your loved ones this Christmas, be sure not to forget yourself as well.Happy Holidays and drink well.Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at malibukj@wineink.com.