In this article we grapple with two eternal dilemmas: what holiday gift to get people who really like wine and what to call people who really like wine. For added holiday cheer there is a fun poll, a quiz and free prizes at the end.
It's always a little tricky to buy gifts for people who really like wine. For me, it's more tricky figuring what to call people who really like wine. Wine Lover sounds good but doesn't always work in conversation. When was the last time you called someone that you're not intimate with a lover? Robin Garr has probably trademarked the term already anyway. Wine Enthusiast is probably trademarked as well. And I wouldn't really call anyone a Wine Spectator, Observer, Fan or Aficionado. At least not to their face. Oenophile sounds creepy and possibly illegal. Ski Bum is OK for skiers but Wine Bum? Not so good . . .
So what do we call ourselves? There are almost as many potential names as potential holiday wine gifts: buff, cat, devotee, fan, fanatic, fiend, geek, hound, junkie, nut, etc, etc, etc. Please vote at the end of this article so that we can solve this urgent problem once and for all. (beam me down to the poll, Scotty!
OK, back to the gifts.
It's the most obvious gift to give someone who really likes wine. Doh! However, it's not always so simple. It can't just be any old wine. It should be something really special either to the giver or receiver (especially to the giver if you will happen to be sharing it!) If you're undecided, the one great slam dunk holiday wine to give is Madeira. It's unusual, festive, good-value, will keep indefinitely and was even used to toast the Declaration of Independence. At the lower end of the price range, a 5 year old Sercial, Verdehlo, Bual or Malmsey
is a great gift, while those looking to splash out a little more can get a vintage Madeira such as 1969 D’Oliveira Sercial for $89.95 or 1827 Quinta do Serrado Bual for $895.00 (yes eighteen twenty-seven!) at the Rare Wine Company
. They also have excellent information on Madeira as well as an excellent Historic Series of Madeiras - New York Malmsey, Boston Bual and Charleston Sercial – that's sold in better wine shops. Another great resource to find out more about Madeira is the MadeiraWineGuide.com
Good wine glasses are always welcome since they are always breaking. Riedel is the big name and excellent but I have to let you know that Schott Zwiesel
is both better and cheaper. They're also equally confusing to pronounce. Isn't that Frank Zappa's son's name? We have a set of huge delicate balloon Schott Zwiesels that hold more than a full bottle each (if you can't find a decanter handy) that have been knocked over several times without breaking. Amazing! The secret is titanium in the crystal. I especially like the Pure line that you see more and more in top restaurants. They don't seem to be distributed nearly as much as Riedel but they are definitely worth seeking out or ordering online
Chateau and Forge de Laguiole corkscrews are great wine gifts but are also very expensive. If you want to be really smart and cool, the Pulltaps X Tens
is simply the best designed corkscrew now available and costs about a third of what a top Laguiole will set you back. The standard Pulltaps
are even cheaper and just as functional as the X Tens only not as sleek.
The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass
by Jamie Goode
The last science book I purchased was A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking. I'm inclined to like such books but just couldn't get through it; doing nothing to dispel rumors that it's the best selling and least read book in the history of publishing. The Science of Wine
is much different in that it's actually an enjoyable read. It addresses nearly every big issue in wine today from biodynamics to global warming to microoxygenation and will take you from zero to hero in one read. Goode, who is also the man (and scientist) behind the excellent wineanorak.com, has a knack for distilling complicated subjects into clear and simple terms. No wonder it was the 2006 Glenfiddich Drink Book of the Year.
The Cork Jester's Guide to Wine
by Jennifer Rosen
“I've got a joke for you.” When I hear those words I quietly start to panic. The joke is invariably going to be the least funny thing you've heard since the last joke. Where do I put my hands? What's the most convincing way to fake polite laughter? I think I'm twitching. Please stop! So when somebody calls themselves the Cork Jester me thinks that they may be protesting just a little too much. Sadly for my little Grinch heart and luckily for you dear reader, it's not true. Rosen is funny, entertaining and a very good writer. This book is also truly unusual in that rank beginners and experts alike will find it interesting. Even Robert Parker liked it. It's not fair! I'm jealous.
What to Drink with What you Eat
by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
There has been some grumblings in the blogsphere lately about this book, which revolves mainly about the chutzpah to call it a “definitive guide.” It may not be definitive but is both enormously fascinating and very helpful. It certainly helped me with my pairings of British foods last week and is still considered a must buy on De Long Wine Moment.
The Oxford Companion to Wine
, 3rd Edition edited by Janis Robinson
Ma, you got me a reference book? Thud! Did the proverbial giant turd just fall into the holiday punchbowl? No on three accounts: 1. This is no ordinary reference book but simply the most comprehensive book on wine now available. 2. It's just been updated with many new entries and better maps (if you have the old one, you need the new one). 3. Wine people don't serve punch.
De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table
OK, I couldn't resist a little plug for me own goods. Unfortunately we didn't get our Wine Map of the World out in time for the holidays. If you would like to get one for a gift at 15% off + free delivery, just enter the word “holiday” (all lower case) on the online order form until Dec. 18. The chart can now be ordered without the reference book and the same discount applies. Click here
if you would like to order.
I wish the very best for everyone this holiday season and leave you with a traditional De Long holiday poem:
Silent night, Super night
Everything is excellent, cha-cha, out of sight
Gingerbread men without a care
Tannenbaums bursting in mid-air
Who and what wine is in the picture at the top of this article? How much would a bottle by a person of the same name hold? First correct answer gets a free Wine Grape Varietal Table delivered safely to their home or office. First partially correct answer gets a free Wine Grape T-shirt. Good luck.
Also, please help us solve one of the wine world's most urgent dilemmas by voting in the poll below.
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