You are likely counting down the days until you can celebrate the season with family from afar, toasting, gifting, and honoring the season. But, what is the gift to give that will really impress? We have compiled a list that will please even your most difficult gift recipients…..they are so good you may want to keep them for yourself! #Cheers
For the fine wine lover – Joseph Phelps Insignia
If you need to score some points with your sweetheart’s parents or simply yourself, a bottle of Insignia from Napa Valley’s Joseph Phelps Winery will likely put you in good graces through this year and well into the next. The wine shines the way great Napa Valley wines should. A blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with touches of powerful Petit Verdot and juicy, cherry, and tobacco-filled Malbec, the unctuous wine is bold, rich, and intriguing with complexity, power, and gorgeous structure. James Suckling awarded the 2019 vintage an impressive 98 points rating. It is difficult to give a wine this beautiful away as a gift….but as we are in the season of giving, it is the one to give.
For the white wine lover – Far Niente Chardonnay
If the wine lover in your home only sips Chardonnay, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Far Niente Chardonnay. Rich, warm, and inviting, this is the Chardonnay I could drink every day as it has the perfect balance of fresh acidity, ripe fruit, and carefully balanced oak. Far Niente has been crafting the wine for the past 40 years, utilizing vineyards predominantly in Napa’s cool Coombsville region with gravely, loamy, well-draining soils, giving a hint of herbaceous character to the ripe apple, melon, and marzipan-filled wine. This would be a white wine-perfect option with your holiday meal as well, pairing with turkey, crown roast of pork, and everything in your feast of the seven fishes.
For the art lover – Corinne Bizzle Art holiday ornaments
We aren’t biased, but we love the inspired work from the fabulous Corinne Cogill Bizzle. Every year Bizzle’s voice shines brighter and brighter through her colorful, whimsical abstract paintings, and this year is no different. Bizzle believes everyone should have the opportunity to own original art, which she makes possible with her monthly mini paintings and this year’s colorful and neutral holiday ornament (each only $20!!) Do a little browsing while you are on her site; you may find something else beautiful to brighten your home.
For the sparkling wine lover – Domaine Carneros
I am a huge fan of the wines from Domaine Carneros, and as the holidays are the perfect time to pop a bubbly, DC should be a part of your celebration. This year they have added a special selection to enhance your olfactory senses by partnering with candle producer, Voluspa, creating a bubbly and candle combo for the holidays. The limited-release Domaine Carneros sparkler and candle require joy and celebration, delivering citrus, honey, and brioche. The combo will please the bubbly lover, the candle lover, or the person who always ensures a cozy, inviting feeling when you celebrate with them.
For the wine lover that needs to be wowed – Michele Chiarlo Barolo DOCG Tortoniano
My heart melts upon sipping a great bottle of Barolo. My classic a-ha wine filled with tobacco, black cherry, leather, rose petals, and tar. Yes, I agree it is an interesting combination to fall in love with, but the beauty of great Barolo is how harmoniously well-made selections balance the earth with the fruit, the terroir with the vintage, and the winemaker with the story. Michele Chiarlo has been crafting quality Piedmontese wines since the mid-1950s, showcasing the Northwestern Italian land that thrives with grapes, hazelnuts, and truffles. The earthiness you experience with the pristine white truffles of Alba you find in the robust wines of Barolo, and it’s sister region, Barbaresco. Michele Chiarlo Barolo DOCG Tortoniano balanced bold tannins with fresh acidity, ensuring the black and blue fruit-filled wine has balance. Aged a minimum of three years, of which two years are in oak, the wine is nicely fruity and herbaceous while delivering a little something unexpected (and delicious). This is a perfect option for the wine lover you want to surprise and satisfy.
Let’s face it, the only way many of us will ever be able to afford land in Napa Valley will be by landing on your vineyard of choice in the new limited edition Napa Valley Monopoly game. It had been years since we played Monopoly, and though we would have loved to have some wine-themed pieces to play with instead of the thimble and the shoe (how do I always get the thimble), we still loved playing.
We may have loved it so much because we paired it with a few tasty wines included in the game, including a selection from the historic Beringer Winery and Frank Family Vineyards. Though Beringer’s Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the high-elevation vineyards straddling Napa and Sonoma, it is always a favorite, especially for only $36 a bottle. And Frank Family always delivers high quality, highly approachable, consistently delicious wines, represented through their Frank Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. If you love Napa Cab, this is an easy everyday option to enjoy.
For the cook – Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon and Lundy Way wine-dyed apron
I absolutely love this apron! Louis Martini partnered with San Francisco purveyor Lundy Way to create a limited edition red wine-dyed apron that sings of wine country. Produced from heavy-weight cotton, that will withstand the spills from anything from cooking eggs over easy to baby back ribs on the barbecue, with a pinkish/purplish/garnet-colored hue from the stain of the red wine. Each apron has been hand dyed, making each a unique piece of craftsmanship. The chef in your life will appreciate you for this artistic beauty.
For the Tequila lover – Ghost Blanco Tequila
For the agave spirits lover in your life, a bottle of Ghost Tequila will add a little warmth to a cold winter’s night as the spicy libation is infused with spicy ghost peppers. In all honesty, I hadn’t told Gary what the tequila in his evening margarita was, and after two sips, he looked at me with fire coming out of his ears and said, “this is rather spicy.”
Yes, Ghost Tequila is spicy, but it is balanced. The spirit doesn’t just reveal the heat of the pepper; it melds with the floral sweetness of roasted agave to create a harmonious product that I love as the base of a spicy, skinny margarita or a chocolate-filled holiday toast, like the recipe below from the producer.
Toasted Ghost Cocoa
2 oz Ghost Tequila
3 tbsp Cocoa Powder
8 oz Milk of Choice
1 oz Agave Syrup
1/4 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
Preparation: Add milk, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-low heat and continuously stir until the mixture comes to a low boil. Remove from heat and let it cool just a bit. Whisk in Ghost Tequila and agave syrup. Rim a glass with Crushed Peppermint candies, then pour in the mixture. Top with Whipped Cream.
For the Bourbon lover – Whiskeysmith Flavored Bourbon
The flavored Bourbon category continues to grow, with distilleries producing every flavor under the sun, from sweet to tangy, salty to spicy. We love the salty-sweet combination of anything, so Gary and I greatly enjoyed Whiskeysmith’s Salted Caramel Bourbon Whiskey. Bringing just the right amount of sweetness from an aged toffee caramel flavor, melding with balanced saltiness and a nice hit of alcohol, it reminds us of boozy caramel corn at the state fair. What more could you ask for!
For the lover of cheese – Rouge Creamery Rouge River Blue
I wrote about this incredible cheese in my Pacific Northwest story for Tasting Table a few weeks ago, and since, I can’t get its incredible flavor out of my mind. It is a nine-month-aged cow’s milk blue cheese, and once the aging is complete, the cheese is wrapped in Syrah leaves from the Rouge Valley that has been soaked in pear liqueur. Yes, wrap your head around this creamy, dreamy concept. The cheese is salty, with incredible umami, and slightly sweet from the liqueur. The texture is soft and creamy, melting in your mouth after allowing it to come to room temperature before enjoying it. The award-winning World Champion Cheese at the 2019/20 World Cheese Awards is only available seasonally, so don’t hesitate to place your order now! It perfectly pairs Graham’s fruity, sweet, and satisfying Six Grapes Port Wine.