Gift Guide: The Best White, Red, Sparkling, and Dessert Wines to Give This Year

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In the same way that Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, the day after Halloween seems to serve as the unofficial opening day for the holiday season. (Despite whenever pumpkin spice lattes hit the market.)

Thus, ye olde holiday shopping time is here, and some retailers trot out blockbuster deals as soon as Nov. 1. (In this digital day and age, if you’re waiting until the day after Thanksgiving, you’re doing it wrong.)

However, not everyone has time to shop around (IRL, in stores, no less) and look for the latest items on the market that might appeal to the loved ones and colleagues on their gift-giving lists. (Nor is there time to shop for oneself, because, let’s be honest, we look at holiday gift guides and deals for ourselves just as much as for others.)

With that in mind, here is a helpful list of suggestions for the wine lovers in your life.

Sparkling wine

La Crema Russian River Valley Brut Rosé
La Crema

La Crema Possibly the most bang for your buck on this list, La Crema Russian River Valley Brut Rosé is a lovely bottle of bubbles that will leave a lasting impression—likely the impression that the bottle is more expensive than the brut therein. A newer offering from the California winemaker, the Russian River Valley brut rosé benefits from the fog’s gentle embrace with a soft yet crisp finish. Crafted in the méthode traditionnelle, the brut rosé is a blend of 73% Pinot Noir and 27% Chardonnay grapes. It’s also ideal for holiday entertaining—specifically, holiday eating. Recommended pairings include starters such as baked brie and crostini to mainstays like turkey and fish. Suggested Retail Price: $50

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012
Moët & Chandon

Moët & Chandon Similar to how it was for San Francisco Giants fans during the middle of the first two decades of the 21st century, even years were particularly blessed for Champagne producers. In particular 2012 was a great vintage year—especially for prominent producer Moët & Chandon. All the house’s Champagnes are made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. (In the case of the 2012 vintage, the breakdown was 41% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, and 26% Meunier.) The nose starts with aromas of fresh white flowers but quickly develops into notes of fresh white fruits, specifically ripe pear, white peach, and nectarine. Sweet yet acidic, expect a zesty flavor of grapefruit on the finish. If you serve it at your holiday party, consider pairing it with crab and avocado, yellowtail carpaccio, langoustines, or veal with roasted brussels sprouts. SRP: $79.99

The “R” de Rieussec
Chateau Rieussec/Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

White wine

Rieussec The 2018 Château Rieussec “R” de Rieussec Blanc Sec is a blend of 57% Sémillon and 43% Sauvignon grapes. Approximately 20% of the fermentation takes place in barrels, enhancing the wine’s potential to age, while preserving its freshness and the natural yellow fruitiness (especially citrus and mango). That barrel-aging style also leaves some buttery notes, resulting in a fresh and energetic wine. SRP: $43.99

Los Vascos Chardonnay
Los Vascos/Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

Los Vascos Sometimes referred to as the “Napa Valley of Chile,” the Colchagua Valley is one of South America’s most up-and-coming wine regions, and the Los Vascos winery is a prime example. Chilean-born and French-inspired, Los Vascos is the largest single property in the region. Los Vascos’s 100% Chardonnay is a fresh but delicate wine, with a fruity bouquet and notes of melon, banana, and grapefruit. The vineyard’s own Chardonnay grapes are complemented by a blend of grapes from the Casablanca Valley, further north between Santiago and Valparaiso. SRP: $12.99

Red wine

2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Beaulieu Vineyard

Beaulieu Vineyard Full-bodied and rich on the palate, the 2016 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is bursting with an aroma bouquet of cassis, blueberry, blackberry, violet, and wild sage. Expect flavors of dark blackberry, root spice, chocolate, and molasses balanced by a healthy dose of acidity, adding juiciness and freshness to a satisfying finish. Notes of vanilla and toasted oak spices—from aging in new French oak barrels—heighten the aromas and linger on the finish. The winery recommends at least five years of bottle aging. But if you can’t wait that long (which is understandable), decant before serving. SRP: $145

2016 Stags’ Leap Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah Napa Valley
Stags’ Leap

Stags’ Leap The 2016 Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah Napa Valley is saturated with a core of dark fruit flavors alongside more savory notes of cocoa powder, black pepper spice, and Old Bay seasoning. On the palate, the generous blackberry and peppery plum notes continue, followed by touches of bing cherry, cassis, anise seed, clove, and cedar spice thanks to its oak aging. Smooth and silky, expect velvety tannins and a lengthy finish. The 2016 is ready to be enjoyed now, but it is also a bottle you can feel comfortable setting aside for a special occasion in the years to come. SRP: $150

Robert Mondavi Winery 2016 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon reigns in Napa Valley, and among the most well-known purveyors is Robert Mondavi Winery. The 2016 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is opulent and rich (in both taste and price), with sophisticated flavors of black fruit and warm spices. Sourced from the To Kalon Vineyard vine-growing parcel, the 2016 vintage is ideal for fall and winter entertaining with a gentle yet complex profile, and it showcases some of the finest fruit that this world-renowned terroir has to offer. SRP: $175

Dessert wine

González Byass Nectar, 100% Pedro Ximénez
González Byass

González Byass Made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes—which undergo a strong press production similar to that of olive oil—this sherry is aged in casks for up to eight years. After that, with an ABV of 15%, the Nectar opens up with the sweet aromas of raisins and caramel as well as hints of mature raisins and dates, making for a velvety palate and a long, luxurious finish. Ideal for pairing with dark-chocolate desserts. (Pro tip: Drizzle a bit of the Noe sherry over vanilla ice cream for a sublime holiday treat.) SRP: $29.99

González Byass Noe, 100% Pedro Ximénez
González Byass

Gonzalez Byass Noe Also made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes, the Noe sherry has been aging for up to 30 years. Darker in color than the Nectar, the Noe is also a bit spicier, with aromas of figs and coffee. Best when served chilled, pair a tipple with fruit-forward, acidic desserts—especially those featuring strawberries and oranges. SRP: $49.99

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