Sip in Heavenly Peace: A Holiday Gift Guide for Wine Newbies to Seasoned Somms

December 4, 2018 Updated: December 4, 2018

The holidays are fast approaching. Bringing a bottle is always acceptable, but thoughtful gift-giving takes careful consideration.

To keep your stress level to a minimum, I’ve chosen a range of reds, bubbles, and wine-themed gifts in a range of prices to fit any budget.  

Let’s uncork some merriment.

Cozy Red Wines

Finca Decero’s The Owl and the Dust Devil 2015 ($33)

Why: While a phenomenal wine can transport you to a region, just looking at the label takes you there. An AR-enabled app brings the Mendoza vineyard to life in an interactive experience, capturing the property’s watchful owls as they survey the estate, standing guard against the dust devils among the vines.

This Cabernet, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Tannat single-vineyard blend has aromas of blackberry and cherry, pepper-infused black plum on the palate, and a structured yet silky finish.

Owl and the Dust Devil
(Courtesy of Finca Decero)

Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2015 ($82)

Why: Pure sophistication, this big blend offers the complexity and attention to detail expected of the iconic Bolgheri estate. Amazing, considering these grapes come primarily from Ornellaia’s younger vineyards.

Aromas of plum and cooked fig, cooked-down fruits with undertones of stone on the palate, well-rounded with tannins and a smooth finish.

Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2015
(Courtesy of Ornellaia)

Newton Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($190)

Why: Napa’s best keep secret, Newton’s single-vineyard cabs, are a stellar cellar addition. They were launched in celebration of the estate’s 40th anniversary, each born from and named for diverse terroirs Newton Vineyards works with: Spring Mountain, Mount Veeder, and Yountville. All three limited-production wines share the same price point.

If it’s within your means, upgrade the gift to a personal visit. The winery, 65 miles from San Francisco, was designed to blend into the mountainside with expansive views of Napa Valley and beyond.

I tasted the Spring Mountain, with aromas of mint and red and black fruits, and intense red currant and mocha on the palate. Intense with a long but elegant finish. After cellaring, the sky’s the limit.   

Newton Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
(Courtesy of Newton Vineyard)

Festive Bubbles

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve ‘Wonderland Tin’ ($36)

Why: It’s France’s top-selling champagne. This limited-edition tin features “enchanted meadow” artwork, making for a fairy tale of a gift. The Brut Reserve, aged for a minimum of three years, is elegant yet approachable enough to give to a bubbly beginner.

Aromas of pear, apple, and peach, with more white fruit, vanilla, and almond on the palate. More depth than expected, with mild notes of bread on the finish.

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve “Wonderland Tin”
(Courtesy of Nicolas Feuillatte)

Moser Trentodoc Brut Nature 2011 ($45)

Why: It’ll inspire a conversation. Trentodoc, the sparkling wine from the mountains of Trentino in northern Italy, is under-the-radar for even the most experienced wine consumers; a newbie will find this style of bubbly especially intriguing. Moser’s Brut Nature, made from 100 percent Chardonnay with a minimum of five years’ age, is the height of their Trentodoc line.

Aromas of white flowers and white fruits, and ripe apple and vanilla on the palate, with a dry, juicy finish.

Moser Trentodoc Brut Nature 2011
(Courtesy of Azienda Agricola Francesco Moser)

Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé ($100)

Why: A recognizable icon celebrating its 50th birthday, Cuvee Rosé’s memorable rounded bottle pays homage to those used during the time of King Henry IV. This varietal, non-vintage selection is the most recognized rosé Champagne in the world.

The color ranges from raspberry to salmon-pink, as Cuvee Rosé is crafted for a fragrance, not mixed for a color.

Pinot Noir-characteristic aromas of strawberry, red currant, and raspberry, with bright berry flavors on the palate. Satisfying texture, well-balanced acidity, and a long, dry finish.

Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé
(Courtesy of Laurent-Perrier)

Wine-Themed Gifts

Wine Folly’s ‘The Essential Guide to Wine’ ($25)

Why: Beginners have to start somewhere. This visual wine book uses infographics and illustrations to simplify the complex topics of wine. I still refer to mine regularly.

The Essential Guide to Wine
(Courtesy of Wine Folly)

Undercover Colors ($15)

Why: Because everyone deserves to be safe. One drop of liquid on this tiny test is all it takes to know if your drink has been spiked. You get results in as little as 30 seconds, with 99.3 percent accuracy.

Undercover Colors
(Courtesy of Undercover Colors)

Üllo Wine Purifier and Decanter ($150)

Why: For many, like me, sulfites cause debilitating headaches. There’s a solution. Üllo, through its Selective Sulfite Capture process, removes wine’s sulfites while maintaining its original flavors and aromas. The device doubles as an aerator that can be turned on or off. The decanter combo is an obvious gift choice for those who drink reds.

Ullo Wine Purifier and Decanter
(Courtesy of Üllo)

Coravin Ultimate Wine Lover’s Gift ($500, systems start at $200)

Why: You want to change someone’s life for the better, forever. I’ve saved the best for last. This heaven-sent gadget allows you to drink any wine, any time, without ever pulling the cork, using a needle to pierce the cork and argon gas to keep oxygen out. Have a sip or a glass today, another next week, and the rest next year. Every drop will taste the same.

I know firsthand how owning a Coravin changes the grape game. This gift set includes the Model Two Elite, the only system in the line with a selection of stylish colors for a personalized experience.

Coravin Ultimate Wine Lover’s Gift
(Courtesy of Coravin)

Amanda Burrill sees through an adventurous lens, typically focused on culinary and travel. Her education includes a bachelor’s in archaeology, a master’s in journalism, a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, and wine and spirits credentials earned while living in Paris. She is a U.S. Navy veteran, Ironman triathlete, high-alpine mountaineer, and injury connoisseur who ruminates on