The holidays are upon us and everyone is searching for that perfect gift. Look no further. For the wine lover, you cannot give a more perfect gift than a bottle of wine. No need to worry about the size, perhaps color, but never size.
My favorite wines to gift are a Sangiovese for those that love their reds and a White Burgundy or a White Bordeaux for the white drinkers. These are wines the typical person will not buy on average but they are easy to drink and not too difficult to find in most places that sell wine.
According to Wikipedia, Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latinsanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove“. Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino and the main component of the blend Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Sangiovese di Romagna and the modern “Super Tuscan” wines like Tignanello.
Basically this means this is a type of grape, primarily grown in Italy that is used in many types of wines. Some of the more common types of wines that use the Sangiovese grape are Chianti, Burnellos and Super Tuscans.
I have found the Super Tuscans to be an all-around good choice for gifting. They have enough body and tannin to satisfy that red wine drinker that likes a bit of complexity but they are not “rough or rustic” (meaning they do not have a lot of acidic bite to them). Most have enough fruit forwardness in them to keep those fruit lovers happy.
No need to look for a bottle that is more than four years old, a Sangiovese wine is easy to drink when it has been in the bottle at least two or three years. Of course some vintages are better than others but I have found the vintage it is not as crucial as it is with a Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairings are easy with a Sangiovese wine. Anything with a red sauce will work. Anything with Italian spices such as Oregano, Basil, Rosemary. Some of the unusual pairings would be a Roasted Chicken. If you have a red wine lover that likes chicken, roast the chicken with a bit of Rosemary and Garlic mixed into some olive oil, basted onto the chicken while roasting. This will work well with a Sangiovese wine.
The typical tasting notes of a Sangiovese wine are; cherries, raspberries, plum, strawberry, fig. You’ll find some leather and tobacco but not the overwhelming amount you might find a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Some of my favorite Sangiovese wines are:
- Bella Sera Sangiovese Toscana – around $10.00
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Umani Ronchi – around $11.00
- Santa Cristina by Antinori Rosso – around $14.00
For the white wine drinker, a White Burgundy is always a good choice. White Burgundy is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Burgundy region of France. I have found the White Burgundy to have less of the buttery, vanilla, oaky flavor of Chardonnays from other areas and more of a complex minerality essence to it. A very nice winter white wine with an aromatic and creamy sense to it. Not the cheapest white you’re going to find, usually priced between $20 to $35 but well worth the extra price.
If you’re looking for a white wine with more of a citrus spirit to it, and a lower price tag, try a White Bordeaux. This wine is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France. A Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Bordeaux region will usually have more notes of peaches, pears and apples in it than the White Burgundy, making it lighter and crisper. Not to be confused with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Southern Hemisphere, this will not have the high acidic grapefruit taste. The White Bordeaux is much softer in the flavors, making it perfect to go with your holiday turkey or ham.
A white wine should typically be no more than four years old. You can find a White Burgundy that is much older (as much as 10 years older) that will be good, perhaps better than the younger wines, but there’s no need to search about for an older vintage. The younger whites are very good and will usually be less expensive.
I suggest pairing any of these whites with all poultry, fish and pastas and especially with cheese. These white wines will hold up to spicy foods such as Thai and other Asian Cuisine. You could also pair these, especially the White Burgundies with your holiday ham.
Some of my favorite French Whites
- Chateau Sainte-Marie Bordeaux Blanc – around $12.00
- Chateau Fage – around $15.00
- Joseph Drouhin Rully – around $20.00
One last note; if you’re really interested in the Burgundy Region of France (and it is truly a fascinating region), check out the movie “A Year in Burgundy”, available on Netflix and Amazon.