Wine Gift Ideas – What I Want for Christmas

A long time ago, I complimented a friend on how good she was at her career. And she said something that has stuck with me ever since. “Everyone is good at what they love to do. You’re good with wine, I’m good with kids.” 

It’s true I don’t find wine daunting and absolutely enjoy helping friends, family and readers choose the best wine for the occasion.

Sometimes vintage matters, sometimes price. Thinking about the sheer volume of wine produced worldwide, there are still many, many wines to try that could be a contender for your favorite wine.

For the many holiday occasions in the weeks to come, here are few of my favorite go-to wines, good for gracing a dinner table or gift giving.

Many great wines come from venerable vineyards such as To Kolan or Clos Mouches. With the great pedigree comes a three figure price tag. While looking for affordable wines, look for blends, sometimes of grapes, sometimes of vineyards, and sometimes both.

Many of my choices are venerated producers, ones that have been producing for decades, ones that I trust year in and year out because they have had their vineyards forever, most are very affordable but upper end wines are also available from these producers. You’ll be pleased with the quality/price ratio.

Beringer Vineyards has been producing wine since 1876. With 1,600 acres of vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles, you can be assured this award winning winery has what you’re looking for.

Known for the many firsts in California winemaking such as gravity fed facilities, hand dug cellars and the first to give public winery tours. They have several tiers at several price points, red, rosé or white. This is a two thumbs up for gift giving or the holiday dinner.

Bogle Vineyards is another California winery in the Clarksburg region. They began farming in the mid-1800’s and ventured into grapes in 1968. With more than 1,200 acres of grapes, the Bogle family can offer you rich, luscious reds for any occasion.

Look for the Phantom Red, a blend of mostly Petite Sirah and Zinfandel with a dollop of Merlot and Cab. Their perennial award winning Petite Sirah is so intense and concentrated. And it’s no wonder, as this was the first red grape founder Warren Bogle planted in 1968.

The Old Vine Zinfandel is from 75-year-old, gnarly head-trained, dry farmed vines that produce small, concentrated clusters of fruit, resulting in deep, glass-staining, concentrated wines.

J. Lohr Estates is another California winery that I can highly recommend both their reds and whites. A huge grape growing operation in the Central Coast, they have more than 3,600 acres in Monterey and Paso Robles. The Seven Oaks Cab is sourced from Paso Robles and is a crowd pleasing, attractively priced wine.

The 2017 Riverstone Chardonnay is a fabulously balanced Chardonnay for professed oak lovers and understate-the-oak lovers like me. It was the favorite Chardonnay in our blind wine tasting and around $15.

The J Lohr Wildflower is an unusual but delightful wine to give to any wine lover. It’s made from a red grape called Valdiguié from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. Whatever choice you make, know that J Lohr wines deliver much quality no matter the price.

The Hess Collection is another well-established California winery that over delivers quality for the price. High on top of Mount Veeder, Donald Hess first acquired 900 acres in 1982. What is incredibly impressive, he set aside over 600 acres as undeveloped land to support wildlife corridors, fish friendly farming practices and biodiversity. Wow. The Hess Collection and Select Reds are blends that are rich, balanced and awesome.

Rodney Strong Vineyards was my first Chardonnay love. A former Broadway dancer, Strong moved to California and took up winemaking. His Sonoma County winery was founded in 1959 and transitioned from a jug wine source to vineyard designated wines. I’ll always remember the Chalk Hill Chardonnay 1979 while camping at Scenic Beach State Park. It was perfect with a grilled steak and corn on the cob.

Casa Santos Lima is a family owned company dedicated to the production, bottling and selling of Portuguese wines. Almost 1,000 acres of vineyards, produce award winning Portuguese wines. A wine to buy by the case, would be their recent release of Colossal, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz and Alicante Bouschet. It’s big, rich and could age beautifully for a few years. Best part – it’s around $10.

Other wines to consider: For Malbec lovers, Alamos from Mendoza is so good with black raspberry, toasty oak and a smooth finish. All for under $10. For pasta night, Badia y Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti. This bright wild cherry and herb flavors is the perfect match for lasagna or spaghetti with meatballs.

Spanish wines should also be on your list. Along with South American wines, they’re very affordable, best buys even. I’m always on the lookout for Jorge Ordonez or Eric Solomon imports. Both have outstanding reputations for sniffing out small, many times decades old vineyards that produced intense, affordable wines.

Evodia Garnacha is one such wine, a custom cuvee made for importer Eric Solomon of European Cellars. This immensely juicy, dark-fruited red comes from ancient vines on a high plateau in Spain’s Calatayud region. Under $15.

Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos has long been a favorite of mine. Imported by Jorge Ordonez, ($16) it’s filled to the brim with black cherries and spice from old vines in Spain’s Campo de Borja region. Bodegas Borsao is from a cooperative formed in the mid-1900’s with 375 different wine growers!

All wine is at its best when shared. Share what you love with those you love. Always remember, it’s the thought that really counts. Happy Holidays!