Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

It’s that time of the year again – here in Canada our Santa Claus Parades are happening, our houses and malls are decorated for Christmas and, in the United States, we are just a mere two days away from Thanksgiving, football, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our malls are packed, our thoughts have turned to holiday cards, parties, family dinners and what to buy for whom. For those of us who aren’t quite sure what to buy for the boss, the neighbor, and the person in our family that has “absolutely everything” here are a few suggestions that may spark your imagination…


This time of the year is all about celebrating – Christmas, family get togethers, ringing in the New Year – so it isn’t too surprising that this is the time of year that sales of Champagne (or other sparkling wines) go through the roof. For the longest time, I have always been a fan of Moet Chandon and its California version but a friend of mine had me try Piper-Hiedsieck this past weekend at the Gourmet Food and Wine Show in Toronto and I knew it had to be the Champagne of choice for this year’s celebrations.

Piper-Hiedsieck Brut Champagne
CSPC # 462432, Available at a wide range of LCBO stores
$49.95 per bottle

Now, not everyone enjoys Champagne – some of them cause headaches, some are too dry – so I always try to have a sparkling wine from Ontario as a nice alternative. This year’s Ontario Sparkling of choice comes from The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery. One of only three sparkling wines that come from Prince Edward County, and the most recent release, this inaugural version of sparkling wine is crisp, clean and truly refreshing. It’s only available at the winery and it is bound to move quickly so get in touch with the winery quickly to order yours or make a trip to their tasting room.

The Grange of Prince Edward 2007 Brut VQA
Available exclusively at the winery, Released on November 21st
$29.95 per bottle

Normally, when recommending wines at this time of the year, I tend to stick to sparkling wine and Icewine. To me, they fit the celebratory mood of the season best and that is what I like to focus on. However, this year, while at Gourmet Food and Wine Show, I found a 13 year old white wine that just amazed me enough that I feel it needs a mention here. When you see a bottle of wine that is this old, our brains just automatically think that it should be rather pricey. This one is under $15 and is one of the best aged German Rieslings I have ever come across. Amazingly, there is still quite a few available throughout Ontario but I would recommend you pick up a few bottles quickly.

Balthasar Ress Oestricher Riesling QbA Rheingau 1996, Stefan B Ress
CSPC #142299, Available at a wide range of LCBO stores
$14.95 per bottle

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a little bit of sweet decadence to finish off the evening. If you are not big into the sweet desserts then might I suggest a glass of Icewine. Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake is the largest estate producer of Icewine in Canada and they do not always make their Chardonnay Icewine. It doesn’t surprise me that they chose the 2007 vintage as the year to “re-introduce” this unique Icewine as the 2007 vintage has been proclaimed to be the best vintage Ontario will have this decade. Be sure to pick up a couple of bottles of this Icewine before it disappears – and it will disappear…

Pillitteri Estates Winery 2007 Chardonnay Icewine
Available exclusively at the winery
$35.10 per bottle


Not everyone likes Icewine – it tends to be a little too sweet for some people – but with this book, there is a nice alternative to that unfinished bottle of Icewine than allowing the wine to oxidize and go bad. Along with an extensive history of Icewine production, there is a large section of recipes that incorporate Icewine in thus allowing you to use up the unfinished bottle and try some new foods.

Icewine: Extreme Winemaking
By Donald Ziraldo & Karl Kaiser
Published by Key Porter Books, Available at Chapters
Online Price: $33.00 per book


Why not try out some of these ideas for gifts? I have a couple of people on my list who definitely fit into this category and when I need an alternative, I always seem to find them in the gift pack section of my local LCBO store.

Armagnac de Montal VSOP
CSPC #618496, Available at a wide range of LCBO stores
$49.95 per bottle

Forty Creek Barrel Select Gift Pack
CSPC #603688, Available at a wide range of LCBO stores
$29.95 per gift pack


I have never been much of a gadget person but over the years, a couple of friends have given me wine gadgets that have been very interesting. If you’re going to drink wine, at least 75% of the time you need a corkscrew. There are many out there and it is definitely an area of wine gadgets that can be rather confusing but one I keep going back to for people who are not comfortable with the type of corkscrews that servers use in restaurants is The Rabbit (or a similar style)…

The Rabbit – Silver
Available at The Wine Establishment
$60.00 each

Given the size of most Champagne bottles, and the small amount of champagne that people like to drink, a stopper for a partially filled bottle of bubbly is definitely a good thing to have on hand for those holiday festivities. Traditional wine stoppers WILL NOT work in this case – the amount of pressure still inside the bottle and the amount of bubbles remaining even after a bottle is half emptied is still enough to pop a traditional wine stopper out of the neck of the bottle. Believe me – I speak from experience on this one – when I say that is one mess you DO NOT want to clean up inside your fridge. The type of stopper mentioned below is designed to seal the champagne bottle since there’s no way you are going to be able to put the cork back into the neck.

Trudeau Champagne Stopper
Available at The Wine Establishment
$9.95 each

Have you heard the old adage that white wine is served chilled and red wine at room temperature – it’s WRONG! That was set up as a general rule thousands and thousands of years ago when refrigeration did not exist and people lived within a certain area within the world where, basically, extreme temperatures did not exist. The Wine Watch Thermometer takes all the guess work out of serving wine at the proper temperature and even has a set of stickers on the back that shows you the correct serving temperature – in both Celsius and Fahrenheit – for Reds, Rose’s, Whites and Champagnes. In the case of Icewine, my personal preference is to serve it at the White wine temperature but even as low as the Champagne temperature. If I were to say I had a favourite wine gadget – my Wine Watch Thermometer would be it.

Wine Watch Thermometer
Available at The Wine Establishment
$19.95 each


If you were to ask me what line of glassware I have in my collection – aside from the leaded crystal stemware I inherited from my grandparents – I would tell you in a heartbeat that it is Spiegelau. The company is a part of Riedel Glass Works which makes the high end stemware designed to enhance specific wines in specific glasses and the premise has been transferred to the Spiegelau division at a more reasonable price. Below is just a sampling of my favourite glasses from Spiegelau but there are many, many more to choose from.

By the way, if you are not able to make it to The Wine Establishment or do not like to order online, Spiegelau is also available at a variety of places that sell china and stemware.

#01 VG Spiegelau Red/White Wine 15 oz.
Available at The Wine Establishment
$15.00 each or 6 for $75.00

#00 VG Spiegelau Balloon 25 oz.
Available at The Wine Establishment
$15.00 each or 6 for $75.00

#29 VG Spiegelau Champagne Flute 9 ½ oz.
Available at The Wine Establishment
$12.50 each

Spiegelau Cremona Burgundy Box of 4
Available at The Wine Establishment
$30.00 per box

Spiegelau Cremona Bordeaux Box of 4
Available at The Wine Establishment
$30.00 per box

Peugeot Variation Decanter
Available at The Wine Establishment
$100.00 per decanter

Nachtmann Decanter with Handle #2887
Available at The Wine Establishment
$99.95 per decanter

Happy Holidays everyone...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice story you got here. It would be great to read more concerning this matter.
BTW check the design I've made myself Overnight escort

Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio and Baked Scallops with Shrimp by Philip S. Kampe

With the pandemic forcing us inside, there is little doubt that our cooking skills and wine drinking abilities should reach new...