A Glass Of Giving

Tips for giving the gift of wine.

With thousands of different wine brands on the shelf, the process of finding the right fermented-grape gift can feel downright intimidating. So here are a few recommendations that can make your wine shopping a bit easier.

America loves Cabernet Sauvignon. And Napa (in California) is the prestige address for many of the most famous (and expensive) of these wines. But one can also find exceptional values for this grape by looking to areas outside the United States (such as Chile) or simply outside California.

“I recommend the J. Bookwalter Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley area [of Washington State],” suggests Becca Sapienza, one of the three wine consultants we spoke with at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits on College Road in Ocala. “It’s a complex, fruit-forward Cab, for less than $50, that blends vintages from different years to achieve a well-rounded flavor.”

The second most-popular red wine option would be a domestic red blend, which means that it’s a wine that’s been made from more than one variety of grape (the process that winemakers in Bordeaux have been employing for the past 800 years).

“I’m loving the Vin Roc RTW red blend,” says ABC wine consultant Barbie Veguilla. “Lovely, soft tannins. Very prominent black fruit. Plus some vanilla and oak. Delicious!”

For whites, start with Chardonnay, the most popular wine grape variety in the United States. Wines from Napa or its neighbor, Sonoma, are home to many of the most well-regarded American Chardonnay brands, but also remember that Australia and Italy both provide excellent options (not to mention the white wines of Burgundy, France, which are generally 100 percent Chardonnay).

For a lighter style of white, similar to a Pinot Grigio, one might consider a Picpoul de Pinet from southern France or a searingly crisp Grüner Veltliner from Austria or New Zealand.

Finally, if sweet wine is on your gift list, consider a dense, rich French Sauternes or some of the mildly sweet white and red wines from Italy or Germany.

“Dornfelder is a wonderful German red, sporting spicy aromas of tart cherry and red licorice,” suggests ABC Wine Consultant Ed Aulwes. “Flavors of pomegranate, cranberry and dried fruit are just sweet enough to balance.”

Remember, gift shopping for a wine enthusiast doesn’t have to be a chore. Just use some of the tips here or visit a local wine shop with friendly, knowledgeable clerks. They can make those feelings of intimidation disappear faster than a bottle of great wine!

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