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Story - Food

Nov 20, 2016 10:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Wine: The Gift-Giving Guide

Nov 21, 2016 10:24 AM

Spending too long thinking too hard about what to get the guy/girl/relative who has everything? You’re not alone. If a pass through at the Bridgehampton Commons’ TJ Maxx still has you stumped, consider the perfect soul-warming holiday gift: alcohol. You can find a delicious prize for even the pickiest of imbibers, so long as you know what to look for.

For the Friend Who Has Everything: Consider a more unique gift, like Channing Daughters’ VerVino Vermouth. The VerVino comes in six variations with the base spirit ranging from white wine to rosé to red. Batches are infused with botanicals—lemon verbena, pumpkin, mushrooms, blueberries, and chili peppers, to name a few—and can be served over ice, as an apertitif, as part of a serious Negroni, or as the enhancing touch to a martini or Manhattan. The stunning labels on these bottles are a gift unto themselves and will put any recipient in the holiday spirit.

For the Frugal Gifter: With wine, a little can go a long way. You may be long on generosity but short on cash—and that’s OK, too. For less than $20, opt for the Old World-style Pinot Noir from Montinore, a wine full with red fruit, bramble, and clay. This 210-acre Oregon estate is Demeter-certified biodynamic and Stellar-certified organic and displays the true character of Oregon’s terroir. For those in need of a substantial white over an Oregonian red, the 2015 Pouilly-Fumé from Chateau Favray highlights the best of what Sauvignon Blanc has to offer: bracing minerality, brilliant acidity, and tart, sophisticated fruit. And this wine won’t stretch the constraints of your wallet, either.

For the Sweet-Toothed: One need not leave Long Island for the perfect delectable for the sweet-toothed among us. Renowned North Fork winery Paumanok produces an award-winning late-harvest Riesling that does not disappoint. The current release, 2012, teems with apricot, white flowers, honey, and mineral. This wine has been afflicted with botrytis, the “noble rot” responsible for the euphoric wines of Sauternes. The half-bottle is worth every penny—and it’s worth noting that Robert Parker awarded this wine 93 points when it was first released in 2015.

For the Party-Thrower: Sure, there are substitutes, but is anything that is not Champagne really, well, Champagne? The answer, friends, is no, of course not. For the rich-blooded among us, the ideal holiday gift begins and ends with bubbles. But forsake the obvious choices this holiday season (say no to Veuve!) and opt for a smaller house instead. My money is on the ever-impressive Pierre Gimmonet Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru NV, a delicate, aromatic sparkler made completely from Chardonnay. While this wine is quaffable now, it also has the potential to age for future celebrations.

For the Locavore Spirits Geek: The friendly locals at Sag Harbor Rum age their spirit in old bourbon barrels for color and flavor and the result is a spicy, heady rum that’s just as good on its own as it is with a mixer. The spirit is infused with spices and fruits, in keeping with the old whaling traditions of Sag Harbor in the 1800s. This spirit is hyper local—it’s sold only in New York and Pennsylvania—and is sure to please the hipster in your life.

For the Tippler Who No Longer Tipples: Not all liquid-based holiday gifts require the boost of booze. Have a pregnant friend in need of pampering? A teetotaler in the family? No problem. Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard produces a Verjus, essentially a high-end grape juice made from wine grapes that drinks like a tart, white dessert wine—minus the alcohol. Wölffer is not the only player in the non-alcoholic game, of course. The highly respected Navarro Vineyards, based in California’s Anderson Valley, produces both red and white grape juices from respected grapes. The white, a spicy, sweet Gewurztraminer, is an admirable pairing with Asian cuisine, and the red, made from Pinot Noir, will surprise with its complexity, lack of alcohol notwithstanding.

No doubt there is something for everyone—from the naughty to the nice. And while you’re out, don’t forget to pick up a bottle or two for yourself. The holidays, after all, are no time to skimp on self-indulgence.

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