The Grapevine – Have you Been Naughty or Nice?

Regardless of whether you have been naughty or nice, WineGuyMike has some great holiday gift advice.  It’s always fun to drink wine, and to try out new wines, especially if there is someone in your group that knows a little bit about wine.  The holiday season is nigh upon us and it is the time of year, and no matter what holiday we celebrate, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or Festivus we can be assured of one thing – exchanging gifts.

The very thought of shopping for the “right” wine or wine gift can be cause for great trepidation within the hearts of many.  I think about this each year as I’m approached by a number of people reaching out for help in choosing the perfect wine gifts.  To make matters more difficult, it is usually the boss or the wine aficionado in your group that you struggle with most when buying for.  I suppose for some this is somewhat akin to sitting at a restaurant dinner table with a group and all of a sudden they turn to you to choose the right wine to accompany dinner.  You get the point, this can be stressful.

Take a deep breath and remember – this is a great time of year to celebrate friendships, family, and to be truly thankful for the abundance we enjoy in our everyday lives.

Before you go shopping I recommend making a list of the people you are going to buy wine gifts for.  Ask yourself – do they like white or red wine?  When you go to their home and you enjoy a glass of wine do they use wine glasses, or are they utilizing the colorful plastic soda cups they have collected from the drive-thru at their favorite fast food restaurant?  How much does that important person in your life normally spend when they buy wine?  Does the person you’re considering ever decant or aerate the wine they share with you?  Finally, how much are you going to spend, especially when considering the boss?  The boss is always the hardest one to shop for.  What is the right gift for my boss, and how much should I spend?  The hardest question to answer may even be does he deserve a gift at all?

Shopping for wine or wine related gifts should be a pleasurable and gratifying process, more of an experience than a chore.  Sure, there are numerous internet sites and discount retail stores at which one can make cheap, soulless purchases, but for me they lack the personal experience I desire, especially when thoughtfully considering a gift for someone important in my life.

As I was shopping a few days ago at Liquid Planet in Downtown Missoula I realized that this is the experience I desire.  Their retail manager, Heather, has done a beautiful job in merchandising the store, and in particular the wine section.  I have many female friends who love shoe shopping and every time I overhear any of them discussing that experience I know how they might feel.  The wine section in Liquid Planet is all of that for me; it has the right Feng Shui.  Isn’t wine all about balance and structure anyways?

When picking out a gift, there are a multitude of great wine gift ideas.  With strategic planning prior to shopping you will find the perfect gift for that special someone.  Let’s start with the wine; red wine on the simplest level is light, medium, or full bodied.  Red wine will have aromas of red or black fruit; you may smell spice, earthiness, or even some tobacco and leather.  My favorite, however, is when I can sense the smell of bacon in my wine.  That’s right, I said bacon, and many French winemakers would tell you that they strive to have the sense of animal in their wines.  This is a component of the French term “Terroir”, or a sense of place.  Does the person you are shopping for like red wines that express more fruit or they prefer more tactile sensation or the grittiness we feel in our mouth from the tannins more prevalent in red wines?  This grittiness is what some relate as the dryness of a red wine.

White wines present very different tastes and scents than red wines.  Aromas in white wines will vary, with scents of flowers, fruit, citrus, or beautiful tropical fruits being common.  In your mouth a white wine may taste tart, express minerals like stone or slate, or it may even be somewhat sweet.

If wine is something you are considering as a gift ask yourself – how much am I willing to spend and what do I think that special someone enjoys in their wine?  If these queries seem overwhelming, do not despair.  Visit www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com for a special page of recommendations on the various types of red or white wine styles and price points that will allow you to select the perfect wine for the special person in your life.

How about wine glasses?  Many are unaware how important wine glasses are if you are a serious wine consumer.  The Riedel wine glass company has been around for three hundred years.  Their glasses are a masterful combination, artfully blending form and function.  Good wine glasses are designed to allow you to visually examine wine, focus the aroma of the wine correctly, and then deliver the wine on your palate in exactly the right spot.  If you visit the WineGuyMike blog and do a search on Riedel you will find extensive information concerning the various versatilities of wine glasses, a highly interesting topic.

Wine decanters are also a terrific gift to consider for a wine lover.  Decanting wine is a worthwhile effort, even though you have one extra dish to wash the following day, save the possibility you used one of the new aerators.  Decanting is generally a process reserved explicitly for red wines.  When a wine is poured into a traditional decanter the wine is thoroughly exposed to oxygen and helps to open the wine, sort of like a genie that is bottled up but when you let them out they have room to breathe and really come to life and express themselves.  There are a multitude of differing decanters; some are even attached right to the bottle- certainly not traditional, but clever nonetheless.  If you care to learn more this topic is also discussed in depth on the blog.

Aerators are devices of decanting “in the moment”.  This process has gained popularity and can be terrific for spontaneous gatherings in the home or is an option when headed to a casual restaurant or bar.  I still prefer traditional decanting but if company arrives unexpectedly at your front door this holiday season, as it is apt to do, and you want to share a glass of wine, the aerators are a great option.  Remember, as a rule, all wines benefit from being decanted or aerated.  I would recommend a traditional decanting device for more expensive wines as it leaves the more complex components of the wine intact.  You don’t want to bruise the fruit, LOL.

I have many more wonderful gift ideas from Liquid Planet to share with you on my blog at www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com.  I want to encourage you to head downtown to Liquid Planet and see the comprehensive wine gift selection they offer.  It truly is a holiday shopping experience.  I wish you and your family a holiday season filled with good cheer, health, and abundance.

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