Shopping season is here and I’m excited to share 10 gifts that any wine drinker will appreciate. Whether you want to spend $30,000 or $13, I’ve got you covered with fun and interesting bottles, cool gear and a whopper of a wine a cabinet. Here are my top picks for this season. (While I did receive samples of most items, I do not receive any compensation linked to online purchases.)
Sip and Go Wine Backpack ($199, available at Fly with Wine). You guys – this thing is COOL! It’s a high-end black nylon backpack that you could use everyday to tote your laptop and work stuff and THEN you can pack it up with wine to take on a picnic, a bike ride, a hike – wherever! It comes with a removable hardshell case that fits two bottles of wine and it also comes with two disposable 1.5-liter bags with nozzles for dispensing wine directly from the backpack! So you could pour a bottle or two (two 750ml bottles = 1.5 liters) into the disposable bag (or bladder as they call, but who doesn’t hate that word?), attach the nozzle and shazam – your wine backpack is ready to pour your favorite wine! You can even fit your cheese and charcuterie in there, or your sandwiches or whatever. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves picnics, bike rides, camping or just fun outing with wine. Love this.
A Bar Above Mixology Set ($49.99, available on Amazon). Sometimes I deviate from wine and like to shake up a Negroni or a Manhattan, so I love good cocktail-making tools. This line of mixology tools was developed by Chris and Julia Tunstall, the founders of A Bar Above, which is an amazing resource for anyone who wants to make better cocktails. You can find individual tools, too (strainers, mixing glasses, muddlers, you name it), but I like the 10-piece “Stirred” set because you get all the essentials for a great price: a mixing glass, jigger, strainer, bar spoon, cocktails picks (to spear your garnishes) and you also get an online class. Check it out!
Wines That Give Back I’ve got four fabulous wines that not only taste great, but make you feel great about drinking them, too. Most can be ordered direct from the winery websites, but I always suggest asking your local wine store if they have them – or can get them in. Let’s check ’em out:
Line 39 is a California winery whose first grapes came from the 39th parallel, which is a latitude 39 degrees north of the equator – and just north of Napa Valley. They are a certified B Corp, which means they take sustainability seriously, both environmentally and community-wise.
I like their whole ethos: they make great wines – that also happen to be affordalicious – and they support great causes. This season Line 39’s Plate it Forward program will donate $45,000 to local food banks, resulting in more than 20,000 meals. Their reach extends across the country, from San Francisco, to Florida, to Illinois, Texas and New York, where food banks are getting hit with more community need than ever.
Line 39 2021 Sauvignon Blanc is a classic Cali SB. Sunny notes of grapefruit and lemon waft out of the glass and the acidity makes for a crisp, clean taste. It’s not a complicated wine – it’s just an easy-drinking, delicious wine that would go great with seafood, risotto, chicken piccata, salads, etc. And you guy – it’s $11!
Line 39 2019 Merlot is another winner, offering cherry, ripe plum and yep – a little bit of coffee and mocha. The tannins are firm, but well-integrated making it friends with everything from roasted chicken to burgers and sausages. And it’s also $11. Shazam – kind of a no-brainer if you like Merlot (which I do – I like Merlot a lot!)
Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay ($48) Chalk Hill, one of Sonoma’s most popular wineries, is marking its 50th anniversary this year, and they recently hosted the 2022 Sonoma County Wine Auction and also donated two auction lots, contributing to the $1.8 million raised for area charities. They also are a big supporter of Future Farmers of America, encouraging kids and teens to learn about agriculture (like grape growing). They have a 3-acre organic garden on their property, and they make weekly deliveries of fresh organic produce to nearby food banks. I love all of this.
I also love this Chardonnay. Sure it’s not $11, but it is really exceptional. It’s the pinnacle of a great Sonoma Chard, offering generous citrus and orchard fruit, like lemon curd, stewed apples, light baking spices and a super appealing creamy texture. There’s oak on it, but it’s in balance. Great gift for a boss or an in-law or someone else you want to impress.
Sosie 2019 Spring Hill Pinot Noir ($49) I fell in love with this winery a couple of years ago, because they are dedicated to making wines in California that are rooted in French soul. As a fellow Francophile, I love what they are doing and their wines are truly magnificent. They named their winery “Sosie” because it’s a French word that means “twin” or “spitting image. They are big supporters of the arts, sponsoring the popular Bouquets to Art exhibit at San Francisco’s famous deYoung Museum and they also support many local performing arts groups. I like this a lot!
The Sosie Pinot Noir is a beauty with all the best trademarks of an excellent Pinot Noir: black cherry and plum, a bit of spice and that dry-fall-leaves aroma that evokes a dense forest floor. I love it so much! It’s a winner with anything pork (bacon, pork tenderloin, pulled pork with BBQ sauce), or a roasted chicken.
Wines That I Just Plain Love I’ve got four suggestions here of wines that I’ve tasted recently that I just love, so maybe you will, too!
Vale do Bomfim Douro Red and White ($15 each) These two wines come from Portugal’s renowned Symington Family Estates and recently underwent a little packaging facelift, so they are sporting fresh new labels. I have to say, when I tasted these, I was sure the price point was about $25 – and I gasped at the actual price! They both overdeliver big-time. I’ a huge fan of Portuguese wines because the quality-for-the-price ratio is always off the charts. These are are great wines to give to a party host or hostess or to serve at your own party.
The Vale do Bomfim White is an all-new wine for the Vale do Bomfim winery and is a blend of 45% Malvasia, 25% Rabigato, 10% Viosinho, 10% Arinto and 10% field blend. There’s no oak going on here, giving it a lively bright aromatics. Think honeydew, ripe pear, apricot, crispy, crunch fruit. There’s a touch of saline on the finish, making for a zingy ping-pong dance on your palate. It’s a crowd pleaser!
The Vale de Bomfim Red is a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz, 20% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinta Barocca. The first whiff out of the glass is cinnamon and baking spices, some vanilla (that’s a bit of oak talking, black licorice. there’s a lot going on in this wine. My notes also cite violets, blackberries, cassis – I couldn’t get my nose out of the glass, it was so sppealing. Everything is pulled into focus with nice tannins. Would be divine with stuffing, anything with mushrooms, meat, ripe creamy cheeses and more. Yuh-mee!
Yering Station 2018 Pinot Noir ($20) Since going to Australia in 2019, I fell in love hard with so many wines. Yering Station is in Yarra Valley, not far from Melbourne, and the region is famous for its Pinot Noirs. I remember learning while there that this winery is the site of the first vineyard planted in Victoria (that state it is in) in 1838, which is cool! This pinot noir is a classic, offering a burst of red and black cherries, savory spices, fresh earth and really silky tannins, making for a satiny texture. (Try Wine Access to purchase, if you can’t find it locally.)
Xanadu 2020 Circa 77 Chardonnay ($20, I think). Okay, I’m not going to lie: I’m having trouble finding where this wine can be purchased in the U.S. outside of Wine Access but I said YES to the sample offer because I LOVE MARGARET RIVER CHARDONNAY! There is something about Chards from this remote wine region in far, far, southwest Australia (near Perth) that make them really unique. I think it is the crisp orchard and citrus fruits – lemony, appley, peachy notes with bracing acidity. Oak generally plays a background role in these wines, used with great restraint. This one ticks all the boxes for a heavenly Margaret River Chardonnay. LOVE! If you know a Chard lover, I highly recommend introducing them to Chardonnay from Margaret River.
Go Big or Go to Porto with Graham’s Limited Edition Bicentenary Collection $30,000. Yes, friends, if you know someone who loves Port – like, loves it a lot – and you have $30,000 or so burning a hole in your pocket, this is for you. Graham’s – one of the oldest Port houses – is marking their 200th year with a a collection of six single-harvest Tawny Ports and six classic Vintage Ports from the greatest declared vintages in history.
The whole collection is presented in a cabinet made from extremely rare Santos Rosewood. And there are go-withs! You also get a hand-blown decanter, a set of wine glasses by Jancis Robinson MW, a fancy two-part Durand corkscrew designed to open older bottles and a specially commissioned decanting funnel. I mean, they’ve thought of everything! You can’t really just order this online, but you can participate in the auction in December that Christie’s will host in London (the lot includes a VIP trip to Porto and the Douro) – with proceeds going to two charities chosen by the Symingtons (Scottish Wildlife Trust and Santa Casa de Misericordia de Carrazeda).
I mean – I had to include this right? If you – or someone you know – is interested in acquiring this amazing gift, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alright, that’s a wrap, my friends! I wish you happy shopping, fun times with family and friends and I hope you get what YOU want this season, as well! Cheers.