As promised earlier in the year (Christmas sneaks into my mind with total disregard to calendars), Dale Hollow is proud to present the “Wine Lover’s Guide to Christmas Giving 2013”! Unfortunately, we can’t actually put any Dale Hollow wines on this list yet… Maybe next year! We hope it gets your gift-giving juices flowing as we continue to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! You should refer to the earlier Christmas Disclaimer post before running down the list. All of this merriment will make more sense!
For the oenophile (wine connoisseur) in your life, you simply can’t go wrong with their favorite bottle of wine. Always start here, but if you aren’t sure of their favorite, don’t fret! Here are a few alternative yet creative plans that will show them you care:
a. Bottle of wine from their favorite part of the world. For example, if you know they took a trip to France or Greece you could search out a bottle of wine from the area and tell them you wanted to remind them of their trip. For example, I always appreciate an Italian wine or anything grown in a close proximity to Stover.
b. Bottle of wine with a crazy fun story: “the guy at the wine store walked me back to the oldest section of the wine rack, pulled an old bottle that turned out to be a lever, and suddenly the wine rack pivoted and slowly retreated from the wall. He glanced around to ensure secrecy and we entered the cool, damp room. From the floor, and surrounded by foggy mist, a pedestal arose from the floor with a bottle that he explained was smuggled from France on a row boat at the request of one Thomas Jefferson who desired brain fuel for some writing he was doing in 1776.” Ok, this may be a bit of a stretch, but if you spend any time shopping for wine at a specialty store, the people tend to be passionate and have fascinating stories about many of the wines they carry, and any wine lover would love to hear you retell them when you gift them a bottle!
Never underestimate the power of a nice corkscrew. This is the quintessential tool for all oenophiles. As for me, the simpler the better. For those new to the concept: it’s a handle, a little blade for removing the foil, and a screw that you manually twist into the cork. Using a little leverage, you then place the notch on the fulcrum of the device and pull down on your handle to pull the cork up. It was Christmas of 2012 when Santa bequeathed unto me an elegant little corkscrew: housed in a box with a sliding door and covered with a little cloth, sturdy wooden handle, and built perfectly for removing a cork with ease. This is the closest thing to a pocket knife that I ever carry and I’m proud to use it when opening a bottle. As a rule of thumb, I avoid the gimmick devices. The contraptions that twist and squirm on top of the bottle while little handles slowly rise tend to lead to broken corks and crushed spirits more often than not. As much as it pains me to admit it, using one of those “fancy” automatic push of the button cork removers, I have pushed a cork down into the bottle with the resulting pressure causing the wine to shoot to the ceiling and leaving the cork peacefully bobbing along the surface of the wine inside the bottle. Choosing a corkscrew is like choosing a Christmas movie to watch: always go with the classics. The simple corkscrew is called a “waiter’s friend” because this is what servers all over the world carry in their pockets to open wine bottles. They certainly don’t tote around some gizmo designed by Elroy Jetson to put on the table and remove the cork in sideshow fashion.
Everyone loves a good book; it’s as simple as that. Wine people are no different and most of them that I meet are always eager to learn more. Reading is like watching TV, except that your brain has to do something. However, the perfect wine book should match the gift receiver’s experience, tastes, or interests. Here is a quick guide based on the person in question:
a. The wine beginner: Wine Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide by Dewey Markham
– A great guide that covers drinking, smelling, buying, storing, and sharing wine. Super easy to read and more informative than a “dummies” book. Also not as belittling.
b. The wine business-person: Wine Wars by Mike Veseth
– Written by an actual wine economist (yes, a dream job) that discusses trends in wine throughout the globe and explores things like terroir and mass produced wine;often in an approachable and humorous manner.
c. The wine traveler: Vino Italiano: by Joseph Bastianich, French Wine: The Essential Guide by Robert Joseph, and American Wine by Jancis Robinson
– These books basically cover the world of wine, or at least the most important growing and drinking regions. Perfect gift for people traveling to one of these places soon or who just want to learn more about purchasing in restaurants and stores. These are the best!
c. The Missouri wine person: Exploring Missouri Wine Country by Brett Dufur
– This one is fairly obvious: Missouri is the best state ever and the wine is just north of glorious. Give this gift to any Missourian or those that will be traveling here as a delightful travel companion for planning the perfect wine trail across the Show-Me State.
Have you ever heard people say stuff like, “Gee whiz, this wine is too hot. Maybe in a couple of years it would have been decent, but a wine this young needs to breathe a little”. Try not to laugh in this person’s face and write them off as snobbish just because they used the words “hot” and “breathe” when discussing wine. A really young red wine (recent vintages) can have its flavors and smells masked overwhelmingly by alcohol. You know the wine; you drink it down and it burns your nostrils and throat at the same time and it reminds you of unfortunate college experiences. Most of the time, it just means the wine needed more time in the bottle to age and let the sugar, acid, and tannins work through the delicate process of balancing out. One quick solution is to use a decanter. Generally, these are odd shaped glass vessels that you might think are just for show, but really the shape of it is to allow the wine to “breathe” (term used for oxygen taming the bite of a young wine). This is the one time when oxygen and wine are actually allies.
The perfect solution for a city dweller that doesn’t have a basement or access to a hill for building their own custom underground cellar: perfectly suited for ample darkness, 55 degree temperature, and an overabundance of awesomeness. Instead, these handy refrigerators are a couple of cubic feet and hold anywhere from 12-40 wine bottles and keep them at a perfect temperature and adequate darkness. A necessity in life? Probably not, but it puts a smile on my face every time I press the “light” button and can see those bottles laying there and aging in a unspoiled, perfectly suited environment.
These nifty little devices can be used to close a bottle of wine that was originally sealed with a cork. They have one end that is shaped to fit into the bottle and the other can be anything. Try not to get overly large stoppers though, as you will soon find it won’t fit anywhere in the refrigerator. In this instance, focus on function over form. Trying to jam the original cork back in the bottle isn’t ideal because the act of uncorking penetrated the seal and can allow oxygen into the bottle (not to mention cork bits). If you really search it out, there are unique stoppers that can fit the personality of the wine lover in your life. Of course, I put this at the bottom of the list because a stopper is only necessary if you open a bottle and fail to finish it.