Get in­spired by these in­ter­na­tional wine-gift ideas (or keep them for your­self!)

Con­sider these win­ning in­ter­na­tional ideas, with Jane Parkin­son also pro­vid­ing the ra­tio­nale be­hind her 12 se­lec­tions.

Halliday - - Contents -

THE UN­LUCKY up­shot of think­ing too hard about the best wine to give as a gift can be op­tion paral­y­sis. There’s just so much to think about; the oc­ca­sion, set­ting, re­cip­i­ent’s pref­er­ences, the bud­get… The list goes on. No won­der it can feel eas­ier to sim­ply plump for a re­li­able bot­tle of fizz.

And what’s wrong with Cham­pagne? It can be a great op­tion and is an easy go-to as a gift be­cause it never fails to im­press. But Cham­pagne can de­liver so much more than ‘gasp fac­tor’. With thought­ful se­lec­tion, it has the abil­ity to bring a slice of his­tory into peo­ple’s homes. For ex­am­ple, vin­tage Cham­pagne is of­ten gifted in its first flush of youth, just af­ter its re­lease, but it would feel even more spe­cial to re­ceive an older vin­tage, one that al­ready tastes ul­tra-deca­dent on ac­count of its al­ready-ac­quired ma­tu­rity. If Cham­pagne doesn’t tick the box, a more es­o­teric fizz may be ap­pro­pri­ate. This doesn’t have to be to­tally off-piste, like a tank-method Fin­nish white carmenere. But con­sider some­thing that isn’t widely ex­ported yet, such as an English sparkling wine, which is in­creas­ing in vol­ume as well as qual­ity. Most are pro­duced us­ing chardon­nay, pinot noir and pinot me­u­nier, and with re­serve stocks in­creas­ing with every vin­tage that passes, the com­plex­ity of non-vin­tage con­tin­ues to im­prove and im­press. English vin­tage fizz also con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit with each ex­tra year of vine ma­tu­rity.

For still whites with a twist, con­drieu from the Rhone in France is a crafty and clever gift choice be­cause it’s highly revered, yet of­ten flies un­der peo­ple’s radar be­cause of lim­ited pro­duc­tion, as much as any­thing else.

For those seek­ing food-friendly bot­tles to gift, pinot gris is a very use­ful grape. Not only can it smash red wine out of the wa­ter as a part­ner for cheese, but it’s also supremely suc­cess­ful with spicy food. Nat­u­rally, the resid­ual sugar level will play its part on what matches best, so that’s al­ways worth check­ing be­fore buy­ing. As for reds, a great food­friendly grape is Pied­mont’s bar­bera.

This im­mensely drink­able red can boost ev­ery­thing from steak tartare and chicken to sausages and the tra­di­tional turkey din­ner. This is thanks to its rel­a­tively low tan­nin, which also makes it great with spicier meat dishes, along with its bal­ance of fresh acid­ity, gen­tle – if any – oak, and full, but not too full, palate. Add to this its usu­ally rea­son­able price tag and it’s a great gift.

If your re­cip­i­ent is into wine and fond of the clas­sics, the choice can be noth­ing short of a mine­field. Af­ter all, a de­cent claret can be pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive, so too can red Bur­gundy. But all is not lost be­cause there are pock­ets of good value to be found in both – if you have time to do the re­search. But if you’re af­ter more bang for your buck from a clas­sic red, Rioja is a crowd-pleaser. Revered and ro­bust, Rioja is just as ca­pa­ble as melt­ing in the mouth as many a French red.

While white Bur­gundy is deca­dent enough, sub­lime Ch­ablis has just as much chardon­nay char­ac­ter and com­plex­ity, and, even bet­ter, it also has the ex­tra saline fresh­ness for drink­ing dur­ing the sun­nier months.

In­tense re­fresh­ment from clas­sic whites also comes in the form of Ger­man ries­ling. Tangy, re­fresh­ing and de­li­ciously in­dul­gent, de­pend­ing on the sweet­ness level, Ger­man ries­ling can be a sub­lime, retro-cool and thought­ful gift wrapped in one.

Are you buy­ing for some­one with a sweeter tooth or a stronger con­sti­tu­tion? There are plenty of op­tions. Let’s face it, few wines con­jure as much lip-smack­ing plea­sure dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son as a bot­tle of Port. In­dul­gent, deeply spicy and fruity, it’s a must-drink with any­thing that in­volves dried fruit. Sweet wines are just as glo­ri­ous as gifts, and the unc­tu­ous liq­uid hon­ey­comb that is Hun­gar­ian Tokaji is hard to beat. Like a melted bar­ley sugar boiled sweet, but with more or­angerind zesti­ness, it’s a lus­cious gift that would def­i­nitely keep you on the lucky re­cip­i­ent’s Christ­mas card list for the fol­low­ing year, and hope­fully many more be­yond.

The un­lucky up­shot of think­ing too hard about the best wine to give as a gift can be op­tion paral­y­sis. There’s just so much to think about – the oc­ca­sion, set­ting, re­cip­i­ent’s pref­er­ences, the bud­get… The list goes on.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.