I’m not much for the pomp and circumstance of the wine world. You should drink it instead of talk about it. However, there should be a little protocol when giving it as a gift. There is a difference between sharing wine and giving wine. The obvious—but not well-understood—distinction is that when you give it, you don’t expect your host to slap it on the table, nor should you request so. Don’t be offended—your host may have spent many hours preparing a meal and choosing wines to go with it. Your gift, unless requested specifically as a contribution to a pot luck, is meant as a token of your appreciation for the host’s effort. As we enter the celebratory season where gifting wine is most common, here are some suggestions.
This month’s selections are available at Knollwood Liquor, 7924 Hwy. 7, St. Louis Park, 952-938-2783.
Host gift for a casual wine drinker.
Las Moras Malbec 2005 (San Juan, Argentina), $7.99
An affordable wine made from a very trendy grape. Malbec is fresh and rich, but more approachable than young cabernet sauvignon. This one is medium-bodied with bright strawberry fruit and a hint of smoky cedar. Tell your host to try it with pasta in red sauce.
Host gift for the longtime wine enthusiast.
Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2003 (California), $17.49
Blend of zinfandel, petite sirah, mourvedre
Blends are fun, and you’ll be the only one with this wine in your gift bag. It’s complex, with layers of flavor brought on by the strong characteristics of three unique grapes. It’s also intense with lots of berry fruit and peppery undertones. Tell your host it wouldn’t hurt to let it sit in the cellar for a couple of years.
For the collector.
Steltner Vineyards Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Napa Valley), $33.99
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot
It’s a bit too young to be consumed now, but this lush, big-bodied wine will be something after sitting in the cellar for two to ten years. Expect dark berry and plum fruit, with undertones of vanilla and cocoa. It will get more silky as time goes on.
For the bring-something-to-share party.
Montecillo Crianza 2002 (Rioja, Spain), $10.99
Crianza is the youngest of the rioja tempranillos. It spends at least a year in oak and a year in the bottle before it can be sold. It has a clean garnet color and medium body and is a lot of wine for the buck. It may be the talk of the party, because it’s so affordable and features a grape that will be new to much of the crowd.
The special occasion or thank you soooo much wine.
Pommery Brut Royal NV (Reims, France), $46.99
You’ve had a great time and want to thank your hosts. Here’s your chance to show them you love them. This bubbly is elegant, delicate, and sexy, showcasing great fruit with subtle acids. Your friends will save it for a special occasion and will remember you fondly for giving the real thing.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes winetastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com.