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Gift Bottles in Every Price Range

Fine Cooking Issue 55
Photos: Scott Phillips
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If you love wine, just about any bottle worth drinking can seem like a gift. But when it comes to buying a present, some bottles feel a little more special than others. Maybe it’s a wine that’s hard to find. Perhaps it’s one that seems too extravagant for everyday drinking. Or it could be something you love so much that you want others to share the pleasure. In that spirit, here are suggestions for bottles that make for especially good giving, from the economical to the extravagant.

$10 to $20

A half bottle of dessert wine is a terrific treat that won’t break the bank. And a glass of sweet wine is a lovely change-of-pace dessert all alone or alongside some blue cheese or aged Cheddar, so while you’re at it, why not tuck in some cheese as part of the gift? (If you do, use a cold pack and be sure the package isn’t sitting under the tree for too long.) If the wine drinker in your life doesn’t like sweet wine, consider a bottle of dry Spanish sherry. It’s a delicious apéritif and tastes especially good with nibbles like salted almonds or green olives.

$25 to $45

Pinot Noir is a wine that many people are hesitant to take a chance on, which is why a bottle of good stuff would make a great gift. In this price range, there are lots of reliable options, especially from Oregon and California. Pinot is deliciously flexible; it’s equally at home with seared salmon, roast chicken, and grilled sirloin. So, along with the bottle, try including a recipe card or two with your favorite roast chicken or grilled steak recipe for pairing with Pinot.

$50 and up

A bottle of rosé Champagne is one of the most fabulous wine gifts I can think of (anybody I know who’s reading this, take note). Aside from that beautiful color, pink bubbly makes for great sipping just about anytime: It goes with everything from buttered popcorn (what better way to watch a movie on New Year’s Eve?) to leftover chicken to simply seasoned beef tenderloin. Pol Roger, Billecart-Salmon, Laurent-Perrier, and Veuve Clicquot are all tops.

A swanky alternative to pink bubbles is vintage port. Be sure to serve it with enough friends around to kill a bottle in one sitting; one that’s half full and recorked will lose its oomph. Reliable producers include Fonseca, Graham’s and Cockburn’s. Port is a traditional mate with blue cheese (think Stilton or Berkshire Blue from Massachusetts). Or, for something indulgent and striking, give a bar of rich, dark chocolate along with the port.

Editors’ picks

Dessert wine
Lindemans Griffith Botrytis Semillon Late Harvest 1997, New South Wales, Australia
Quady Essencia, California
Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon, Barossa, South Australia
Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière, California
Dry Creek Soleil, Sonoma, California

Dry sherry

Gonzalez Byass Fino Tio Pepe
Lustau Puerto Fino
Lustau Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlúcar

Oregon Pinot Noir

Erath 1999 Yamhill County Reserve
Bethel Heights 2000 West Block Reserve, Willamette Valley
Erath 2000 30th Anniversary Vintage Select
Witness Tree 2000 Vintage Select, Willamette Valley

Rosé Champagne

Pol Roger 1995
Veuve Clicquot
Pol Roger 1990

Vintage port

Cockburn’s Vintage 2000
Graham’s Vintage 1983


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