Published 17 December 2012
Whether you’re looking for that perfect present for your wine-loving friend, or want to drop hints to Aunty Doreen so you don’t get another pair of socks, my top 10 Christmas present list will surely help. The best news is that they are all available without even having to leave your house/desk – and many can even be bought last minute!
Dear Santa, I’ve been good so can I please have …
1. Steve de Long maps
Forget the AA Roadmap 2013, what the person in your life wants for Christmas is a de Long wine map. Available for France, Italy, California, Spain/Portugal and Europe, these beautiful maps are more like works of art than cartography.
Cost: from £20.95
Available from www.wineware.co.uk (UK) or www.delongwine.com (US)
2. Drink Me! by Matt Walls
Matt’s first book is a cracker. Having run The Sampler in South Kensington, he is now a professional wine writer (for the likes of Tim Atkins’ site). Whilst many other teach yourself wine books are all fur coat and no knickers, Drink Me! is both attractive and well written in Matt’s typical no-nonsense style. As far as I am concerned, a must for those interested in wine at all knowledge levels.
Cost: from £8.52
Available from www.play.com, www.Amazon and at all good book stores.
3. Truffle Hunting with Wine Chap
You had me at “truffle-laden feasts in the finest restaurants”, but add in visits to top Barolo and Barberesco estates, night-time truffle hunting and a visit to the Alba truffle fair, and I might be proposing marriage. From late September to early November.
Cost: £850pp (includes wine, tasting dinners, vineyard visits, accommodation, airport transfers, transfers to/from estates).
Available from firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 7720 2024. See winechap.com/travel for more details.hj
4. Bloggers’ Case from Oddbins
In 2012, I pulled together a group of bloggers to select 12 wines from Oddbins’ range. Following its success, we were asked to put together six bottles for Christmas. The case includes a sparkler (Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs) as well as a crowd-pleasing Malbec.
Cost: £57 for the case (including delivery); also available as individual bottles
Available fom www.oddbins.com (individual bottles also available in-store or online)
5. Gift voucher for the enomatic machines at The Sampler
Have you tasted a 1995 Chateau Lafite recently? What about a Pingus 2001? DRC Richebourg 1978? Thought not. Most people aren’t able to buy a £2,000 bottle of wine so will rarely get to experience them. This is where The Sampler’s wonderful enomatic machines come into their own.
Starting from 30p per sample, each shop has 90 wines available to taste – with one machine reserved for ‘iconic’ wines such as those above. A great present for any wine enthusiast as it allows them to take themselves through a variety of styles and try wines they’d never otherwise get to taste!
Cost: minimum £10
Available from The Sampler shops (Islington and South Kensington) or by calling 020 7226 9500
6. Interactive ‘Teach Yourself Wine’ book
If the person in your life is a wine fan AND a geek, then Wine Simplified by Marnie Old and Anthony Giglio may be the perfect present. Available for iPad/iPhone/web, this “book” uses video, interactive illustrations and a range of other tools to deliver an excellent introduction to wine. See my previous blog for further information.
Cost: $12 (reduced from $14.99 by using the discount code “winesimple20”)
Available from www.inkling.com
7. Wine Society membership
By joining this co-operative, you know that any profit from the wine you buy is going back into supplying you decent wine. A one-off share costs just £40 and enables you to buy wines from The Society (it is not open to the public). There’s a load of decent wines in their arsenal, and they host regular members’ events around the country.
Available from www.thewinesociety.com (join before 31st December 2012 and receive £20 towards your first order)
8. Wine tasting and cookery school at Arnaldo Caprai
If I could repeat only one day of 2012, it would be the day I went to the Arnaldo Caprai winery in Umbria for lunch (see Spittoon for a write up). The feast was preceded by a tour of the winery and a cooking session with the overly Italian Salvatore. Although this was laid on especially for us, they do run regular cooking sessions (at €45 per person) and the winery is open for tours (from €10).
Cost: €10 for tasting; €45 for cooking school
Available by contacting email@example.com
9. Three Wine Men tasting
What more could you ask for than a wine tasting with Tim Atkin, Olly Smith and Oz Clarke? The ‘Three Wine Men’ have joined forces to “get everyone in the country tasting, experiencing and enjoying new wines and discovering different foods”. Their events bring together wine and food retailers and producers to show you just how much fun your taste buds can have in a day.
Price: from £25 (includes a Free Reidel glass worth £10)
Available from www.seetickets.com
Even better, why not get them to hold a private event for your business AND help those in need? The charity, 2Water, has linked up with the guys to offer private tastings, with proceeds going to build water wells in Africa. For more information, contact the 2Water team at firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Bottle of Ridgeview
If your Christmas morning starts with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, then you probably open a bottle of Champagne to go with it. Well not in the Bigpinots household; it’s Ridgeview every year for us. I prefer the Bloomsbury, but there are a variety of styles that you can try.
Cost: around £23
Available from Waitrose, Drinks Direct, The Wine Society, and all good wine shops.