I appreciate any advice that makes holiday shopping easier so I thought I’d offer a list of the best of the best to help kick off your shopping season.
BEST WINE FOR THE HOSTESS
When I give the host or hostess a gift my intention is they will not open it in the stress of a dinner party but savor it at a relaxing moment. The best wine to give is one they normally wouldnt buy themselves but one you encourage them to enjoy and not save. I like to give champagne, sparkling wine or cava and persuade them to open it with pizza or the next casual occasion.
- NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Extra Dry, France (about $45 retail)
BEST WINE ON A BUDGET
Quality inexpensive wines, such as those from Cupcake winery, are great for entertaining and giving. Cupcake offers great value (usually less than $15 a bottle) in each of its many varietals, not only those from California but other regions around the world too. With the many occasions coming your way, saving money is always a bonus.
- 2011 Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $12 retail)
BEST WINE GADGET
When you dont know which wine to give, the wine gadget is an ideal gift for any wine lover. One accessory no one should be without is the Vacu Vin. It reduces oxidation in opened bottles of wine. The vacuum style pump pulls out air allowing wine to stay fresh for up to a week.
- The Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump and Stopper (about $14 retail)
BEST WINE TO IMPRESS
I always enjoy giving a wine with a story and a connection to home and the Murphy family has one of the best with Presquile Winery, a prestigious California winery with Arkansas roots. The winery is in an ideal terroir for pinot noir production nestled in the Santa Maria Valley. An excellent bottle of wine vintage after vintage and an ideal gift to open during the holidays or save for a special occasion.
- 2011 Presquile Pinot Noir, California (about $49 retail)
BEST BOXED WINE
With the many choices of wine in a box the Big House Red brand always offers consistent quality. And when youre entertaining a crowd, its hard to beat the convenience of and price of boxed wine. This wine can easily compete side by side with many $12 bottles.
- 2011 Big House Red, Red Wine, California (about $20 retail)
Despite the public’s negative reactions at the mere mention of boxed wine, one thing is undeniable: it’s a brilliant idea. Known in the industry as the bag-in-a-box, the packaging solves a common problem that troubled winemakers for centuries. Whether in an urn, cask or bottle, no matter how these are sealed, air attacks and degrades the wine, making an opened container’s life only a few days long.
In 1965, Australian winemaker Thomas Angove was not seeking to change the image of wine but looking for a more practical and cost effective method for wine packaging. His invention evolved into today’s boxed wine. The box has a soft, flexible bag inside that is filled with wine and sealed without air. As the wine is drawn out the flexible bag collapses and protects the remaining wine from airspoilage. Placing the bag inside a box allows for space efficiency and ease of transportation.
You can’t deny it is a brilliant invention, yet image issues and the myth that boxed wine is inferior have prevented people from embracing it, much like our thoughts on screw-top wines just 10 years ago. In the early days, boxed wine concerns were founded, with an enormous amount of poor-quality wines being put into a box. But today more vintners areembracing the trend, and excellent quality boxed wines are resulting.
These are a few I have tasted and believe give the consumer a fresh new look at boxed wines.
- 2011 Lindeman’s Pinot Grigio, Australia (about $20 retail)
- 2011 Big House Red, California (about $22 retail)
- 2011 Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $20 retail)
- 2011 Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $24 retail)
- 2011 Vina Borgia Garnacha, Spain (about $19 retail)
- 2011 Folonari Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $21 retail)
- 2011 Bota Box Chardonnay, California (about $20retail)
Boxed wine has been the topic of many heated debates.
But depending on your expectations, there are goodquality boxed wines available that, if given a chance, might move discerning wine drinkers off their blanket rejection of the product.
In 1965, Australian winemaker Thomas Angove, seeking a more practical and cheaper method of packaging wine, came up with a resealable plastic bag in a cardboard box. It evolved into our modern boxed wine. Angove died at age 92 in March.
“Boxed” wine is packaged in a sealed bag, usually inside a cardboard box with a spigot. As wine is drawn out the flexible bag collapses, protecting the remaining wine from air spoilage. The packaging also offers efficiencies in storage and transportation.
Boxed wine offers some advantages over traditional glass bottles — it is easy to open and will stay fresh for weeks after it is opened.
Consumers interested in boxed wines will find many price and quality options to explore, and the past 10 years have seen marked improvement in packaging and choices.
These wines come in 3-liter boxes, making them all VALUES.
- 2008 Bota Box Shiraz, California (about $16 retail)
- 2008 Black Box Merlot, California (about $25 retail)
- 2008 Fish Eye Pinot Grigio, California (about $19 retail)
- 2008 Red Truck Mini Barrel, California (about $29 retail)