Wine is the perfect gift. For the host who spent all day cooking a lovely meal, the boss who understands the need for an occasional sick day or the friend who could use a little pick-me-up, wine does wonders. But which bottle, exactly, to give? Sure, you can grab what you know they always drink — it’s a sure thing. But the holidays are a time for surprise and fun, so maybe something new below the tissue paper is in order.
Behold, The Drink Nation Wine Shopping Cheat Sheet. We can’t offer up a guarantee with it (per the lawyers), but we can promise a new experience — it’s stories from those that are the real gifts that keep on giving.
If they usually order: Chardonnay
Buy them instead: Viogner
The appeal of chardonnay is often on the nose. Fans of the oaky brew love the creamy, toasty aroma chardonnay produces, followed by its smooth taste. The same concept is behind viogner, a white grape most often found in the Rhone area of France. A whiff of viogner is like perfume sampling at the high-end department store — it can get heady. Floral and a touch fruity, you could rub this stuff on your wrists. It has less acid than chardonnay, but that just helps you appreciate the smell longer since there’s no sharpness to contend with while you sip.
If they usually order: Pinot Noir
Buy them instead: Beaujolais
Pinot noir does a brilliant job of maintaining multiple personalities. It’s light and fruity, but also has a layer of darkness containing earth, tobacco, and even “barnyard.” Its dainty-named friend from France’s Burgundy wine region does the same. Reason one: it’s from Burgundy. The area that made pinot noir famous knows a thing or two about that sultry combo. Reason two: its main grape, gamay. Low in tannins, it’s approachable and light, but has some woodsy notes thanks to its while-cluster maceration technique.
If they usually order: Pinot Grigio
Buy them instead: Gewürztraminer
Pinot grigio is light and sweet, and a bit innocent. It’s the grape of choice at showers and weddings since it’s middle of the road but tasty. Gewürztraminer is like its cooler, older cousin. It comes from the chilly regions of Germany and Eastern France, a climate that helps develop grapes with high sugar content and a rich tropical and floral nose. A dash of mineral flavors gives it sophistication, as does its fancy name that wows non-wine-nerds when it’s whipped out at the bar.
If they usually order: Zinfandel
Buy them instead: Barbera
Barbera is one of those wines that’s due for a bit of a comeback, so help your friends get in before it’s trendy. This Northern Italian grape has the high acid, berry flavor, and spicy finish of a zin, but with a bit of a smoother sip and lovely oaky notes of vanilla. It’s like dessert in a glass, without all the sugar.
Production of Irish whiskey has spiked to over 130 percent since 2005 and a major contributor has been American sales, according to the Courier Herald...read more ›
Winter is coming, and so is wine from Game of Thrones. Entertainment Weekly reports that HBO and Game of Thrones are preparing to release their own li...read more ›
Move over, wimpy chocolate Advent calendars - it's time for a fun new way to count down the days until Christmas....read more ›
There's a magical speakeasy in the new Harry Potter franchise film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them....read more ›
BrewDog, the world's first crowd-funded brewery, is releasing an unique beer to anyone who invests at least $2...read more ›
California's Distillery No. 209 released a recipe for a groundbreaking new way to use their gin this week - as a brine for your Thanksgiving turkey!...read more ›
A brewpub, for the first time ever, has won a Michelin star - specifically, Band of Bohemia in Chicago....read more ›
BrewDog Beer, the largest brewery in the U.K, is preparing to open a branch in the U.S. in early 2017....read more ›
A self-driving tractor trailer equipped with 50,000 cans of Budweiser made its first delivery in Colorado in late October. ...read more ›
We've talked about many products and even beverages that promise to either cure or prevent us drinkers from th...read more ›
Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn is making a beer brewed from actual clouds....read more ›