Holiday time is ticking away. Have you finished your shopping? Well, here's an "idea" list of high-spirited presents you might want to consider giving (or keeping for yourself) this joyous season. Most of the items are readily available at your local wine, beer specialty and/or spirits shop; otherwise, availability is noted.
For the under $10 category, try the 14 Hands Vineyards 2010 Washington State Riesling. The packaging is a beautiful bottle with multi-colored stallions on the label. And in the bottle is a beautiful wine with peach and apple aromas and a mouth full of peach and citrus flavors. Perfect for someone who loves spicy foods or can't get enough sushi.
In the $11 to $20 range, you won't go wrong gifting any one of the lovely wines in Echelon Vineyards' California Series. There's Chardonnay (juicy pear flavors) and Pinot Grigio (crisp, clean and refreshing) at $13 each and Cabernet Sauvignon (ripe black fruits), Pinot Noir (soft tannins with rich finish) and a lovely little Red Blend (Merlot and Cabernet blend with lots of fruity flavors) for $14 each.
The mid-$20 range can be tricky, but wtih the Antinori Peppoli Estate 2008 Chianti Classico DOCG all the guesswork is taken out of the purchasing equation. This wine is worth every penny of its $25 price tag. The Sangiovese is blended with 10 percent combination Merlot and Syrah for added depth. The wine is elegant with good structure and hints of vanilla; perfect for the foodie on your gift list.
You may not want to give this one way. The Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Meritage Artist Series, about $55, is an amazing Bordeaux-style blend. Aged 20 months in French oak to bring all the flavors together, like colors combining on an artist's palette. Only 2,100 cases produced, the wine is complex with a "yum" factor.
I wouldn't really suggest gifting a spirit in the low-end category. Let's not even begin to imagine what that might taste like, and liquor in a jug just doesn't make a good showing.
However, for around $25 you can gift the chocolate dessert-loving daredevil on your list an amusing bottle of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur. Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur that offers the simple pleasure of pure hazelnut indulgence. You can even pour a little over a slice of fudgy chocolate cake.
For the history buff or the mystery detective you know and love, give the Lucid Absinthe Louching Kit — retails around $60. The act of drizzling ice-cold water into absinthe and turning the liquid a magical, opaque pale green is known as louching (loo-shing), and was popularly enjoyed in 19th-century Parisian cafés by the likes of Claude Monet and Oscar Wilde.
When gifting beer, you control the price range. On a budget? Then give only a few bottles. Want to splurge? Then give more. What you really need is inspiration regarding the types of beer to give. So why not give a beer adventure this holiday season?
Grab a six-pack carrier and fill it with a bottle of Stiegl Radler from Austria ($2.70 bottle, refreshing with candied lemon flavor); Monk in the Trunk Amber Ale made in Jupiter, as in Florida, not the planet ($1.70, subtle nutty and malty sweet flavors); Kalnapilis Lithuanian Lager ($2.60, mild nutty flavor); Cigar City Jose Marti American Porter right from our own Ybor City ($2, roasty chocolate aromas with coffee tones); Jever Friesland Pilsner from Germany ($1.70, yeasty with an assertive hop finish); and Canada's own Unibroue Blanche de Chambry ($2.70, mainly pears and apples with a bit of spice). A gift with taste and flavor at about $13.50.