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Two Women on Wine: The perfect holiday wine gift

The trick is to know your gift recipient’s special tastes

Posted: December 3, 2009 5:00 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2009 6:07 a.m.

 
Even in a recession, gift giving doesn't go out of style. The grandeur of the gift may change, but the act itself remains intact.
Wine is one of the most popular gifts at the holidays. It's easy to give and always appreciated. It's especially popular as a last-minute gift and perfect when you're on your way to a holiday party and you don't want to arrive empty-handed.

With a small bit of help from you neighborhood wine merchant, it's not hard to come up with a wine gift that's personal and special.
Our approach is to start by thinking about what we already know about the recipient. Do they love chocolate or sweet desserts? If so, then a bottle of Port might be the ideal wine gift. Fortified with brandy, which gives it a higher sugar and alcohol content, Port can stand up to sweet desserts. And there are few moments more luscious than a nibble of chocolate and a sip of Port.

If we know the person's favorite vacation spot - maybe it's the Pacific Northwest, Tuscany, South America - we try to choose a local wine produced by a small, artisan winery in the region. What a lovely "souvenir" gift!

A friend of ours travels to Alaska each year to fish for salmon. (We love him for that because he always shares his catch.) For him, we choose a bottle of Pinot Noir because it is a wonderful match with the salmon. If we knew a hunter who brought back venison to share with us, we'd select a Shiraz, Malbec or Zinfandel all bold enough to pair nicely with game meat.

We have some wine-savvy friends, and for them we may lean toward a blend, perhaps a Rhone blend (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) or a Meritage blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot). These blends are good choices if you're not sure of the recipient's preferences. You'll arrive with a very thoughtful gift that is sure to be enjoyed.

For folks who may be new to wine, look for light-bodied wines. For example, choose Pinot Grigo, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, or Sangiovese. Light-bodied wines have lower alcohol content and aren't challenging, which makes them easy and enjoyable to drink with or without food. These are great choices for a wine newcomer.

Another route might be to choose a label that pairs well with the recipient's interests. Film Noir by Sort This Out Cellars is an excellent artisan wine tailored for film and movie buffs, as well as those with a love for Pinot Noir. Its label features "Old Hollywood" legends such as Jean Harlow in classic filmstrip style.

And then, of course, there's always the option of choosing something truly original. On Saturday, Dec. 5 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. customers have the opportunity to meet winemaker John Monnich, owner of Silkwood Wines from Modesto, Calif., and taste several of his signature wines - Petit Sirah , Syrah, and Red Duet, a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah - and walk away with an autographed bottle perfect for gift giving. For the politically-minded, there's a Washington, D.C. connection. Silkwood Wines started in 1979 with a Chardonnay that was frequently served in the President Ronald Reagan White House.

On Saturday, Dec. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., The History Chef Andrew Caldwell will stop by Vino 100 to sign copies of his latest book "Their Last Suppers." Only available through Vino 100 prior to its nationwide release in March 2010, Caldwell explores the final meals and the wines consumed of such notables as Abraham Lincoln, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

The concept behind the book is about famous people who died tragically and a recording of some of the funny or just amusing historical facts about those individuals and what they ate for their last dinners. Meals are listed in cookbook style with ingredients and directions for making those exact dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen.

In addition to fine, wonderful wines, you may want to consider all the fun, wine-related gadgets available. Perhaps the Vinturi Wine Aerator or the Ravi Instant Wine Refresher, which chills red wines instantly. There's the Electric Rabbit rechargeable corkScrew or the Houdini corkscrew. New to the store is the Wine Life Preserver, an inert gas that's flavorless, odorless, and colorless, and the Onyx Vintage Vac, an automatic vacuum pump that allows you to enjoy your wine from beginning to end.

At Vino 100, our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help you select the perfect wine or wine accessories for everyone on your list. We have extended hours through December and offer complimentary gift wrapping with every purchase. Have a happy holiday season!
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier are owners of Vino 100 in Valencia, a unique specialty wine store offering boutique, handcrafted wines from small, artisan vineyards, as well as a large selection of gifts and accessories. Daily tastings, weekly specials and monthly events. Visit Vino 100 located at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road in the HighRidge Crossing Center at the corner of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. (661) 294-6886, www.vino100valencia.com.

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