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Eat & Drink » Wine

Spirits: Wine Under the Tree

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If you’re reading this column, you’ve got less than a week to finish up your Christmas shopping. Haven’t even started yet? That’s OK. Don’t panic. We’re here to help. n

Wine gifts can be meaningful ones. But as much as I appreciate receiving a bottle of wine for the holidays, I do like to see at least a smidgeon of thought go into it. At this time of year, it’s not good enough just to grab the first bottle of $10 Chard you see, stick it in a gift bag and call it quits. That’s about as thoughtful as giving your favorite guy a 9-pack of Hanes tighty-whities for a gift. Not that you have to spend a lot of dough; there are gifts of wine to fit every budget.

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I think that for the holidays, fizz is especially fun. And I doubt anyone would turn up their Rudolph nose at a bottle of real Champagne from France. Your favorite fashionista would love drinking Piper-Heidsieck Champagne from a bottle dressed by Gautier. The P-H by Gautier ($100) Champagne bottle comes adorned in a red-hot faux-leather corset which laces up the back. Best of all, the fruity and floral bubbly inside is just as sexy as the packaging. For 40 fewer Washingtons, you can give the gift of Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne ($60), an absolutely flawless French bubbly with toasty bread notes, apples, pears and walnut flavors and aromas. And for a mere $17, it’s hard to beat Marquis Gelida Brut 2003, a light and lovely Spanish cava that I’ve fooled more than a few people into thinking came from France.

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A few years ago when I was feeling a bit flush, I bought myself a wonderful Christmas present: a gorgeous, hand-crafted Languiole corkscrewWineEnthusiast.com. from France. Mine has a cherry wood handle but they come in a variety of woods and now even faux wood. This is the Maserati of corkscrews and you can order one ($30-$180) at

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Big bottles—magnums, Jeroboams, Nebuchadnezzars and such—are especially festive and attention-getting. I wouldn’t mind finding a Jeroboam of Chateau Lafite 1999 ($6,051.51) under my Xmas tree, but I’d settle for a magnum of Margaux ’09 ($4,558) or a Jeroboam of Duckhorn Napa Merlot ’06 ($271.63). OK, OK … how about a magnum of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2003 ($86.68)?

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Here’s a cool holiday gift for the Absinthe-minded: Lucid Absinthe Superieure has released a limited-edition holiday gift set ($60) which includes one 750 ml bottle of Lucid, two vintage-style absinthe glasses and a vintage-style absinthe spoon. Package it with an edition of Verlaine or Rimbaud, and you’re set to go. For flavors a little closer to home, you can pick up a Castle Creek Cowboy Gift Box ($18.82) straight from Moab’s finest winery.

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Every year, some lucky SOB gets a holiday wine-cork trivet from moi. Although many wineries are turning to synthetic stoppers and screw caps, there are still a lot of corks to be found. If you need some, come to me; I have bags and bags of them. Anyway, a nice gift is a Natural Wine Cork Trivet Set ($20) available at Target. You just glue your corks into the wood trivet frame and voila! You’ve crafted a unique hand-made holiday gift.

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I think dessert wines make lovely gifts, since many have especially pretty bottles and labels. Far Niente Dolce ($87.49/375ml) comes to mind, as does the more affordable Yalumba Museum Muscat ($15.88/375ml). Or, if you want to play Super Santa and have me love you long time, spring for a 375ml bottle of Chateau d’Yquem ’05 ($1,153.61). tttt