The wine world offers plenty of gifts to lift the spirits for everyone from the wine neophyte to the grape snob. Here are my picks.
Belle Epoch Champagne:
Perrier-Jouet’s beautifulFleur de Champagne gift box will please every champagne drinker. In 1902, Emile Galle, a glazier in the Art Nouveau style, created a green bottle with gold inlay and embossed white anemone flowers for Perrier-Jouet champagne. The eye-catching bottle contains Perrier-Jouet’s delicious 2002 Prestige Cuvee Champagne with two matching glasses in a white case with gold and copper detailing resembling a jewelry box.
The 2002 Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne gift box retails for approximately $160.
“Dummies” pretty smart:
Don’t turn up your nose at “Wines For Dummies“ series- it’s great for anyone with an interest in learning about wine. Authors Mary Ewing-Mulligan, America’s first female Master of Wine, and her husband, Ed McCarthy, pack their books with information without being pedantic. For the beginner, the intro “Wine For Dummies” takes the reader on a tour of winemaking, wine terminology, and wine regions around the world. Wine consumers can focus on specific wine types with either “Red Wines for Dummies” or “White Wine for Dummies” and French, Italian, and California versions. On his own, McCarthy wrote “Champagne For Dummies”. They’re available in bookstores or through dummies.com; prices range from $12.99-$21.99.
Pocket wine books offer a different angle with their annual review of wines from major regions. Readers are given thumbnail sketches and recommendations of various wineries and wines. Two of the better pocket guides are “Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide 2011” (Sterling Epicure, $14.95); and “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2011” (Mitchell Beazley $14.99).
Knowledge is a gift that lasts for ever. Learn about wine with a master such as “Dummies” scribe Ewing- Mulligan at her International Wine Center. While four levels are offered leading to the examination for England”s internationally recognized Master of Wine certification, the first level is designed for those who have no previous wine knowledge. It’s two sessions, three hours each and costs $285. The International Wine Center is at 350 Seventh Avenue. Call(212)-239-3055 or go to internationalwinecenter.com for more information.
Have a crush
Learning about wine is the most fun when you make it. Winemaking involves crushing the grapes in the fall(you’ll use a machine, not your feet), racking the wine during the winter and spring (removing the sediment from the barrel as your wine is aging), and bottling, corking and labeling it (you get to name your vintage and create your own label) in the summer.
There are winemaking schools throughout the state; from north to south, here are three suggestions: A Little Taste Of Purple, 68 Clinton Rd, Fairfield (973)-575-9463, contact Joyce Fern; Winemakers of Somerset, 12 Church Street, Bound Brook (732)-271-9463, contact Jeff Neary; Bacchus Winemaking Club, 1540 Route 37 West, Toms River
(732)505-6930, contact Shawn Hatton.
Call to discuss pricing, which depends on grape selection, the barrel you use, whether you want the wine to be a non-reserve (one year of aging) or a reserve (two years of aging), and whether you want to share a barrel with others (each barrel yields about 225 bottles).
Riedel, the Austrian wine glass company, has a beautiful 1920s-style flute glass with a pink base for your sparkling wines, and a portion of the sales goes to breast cancer charities, so giving a gift is also doing good. It’s two flutes per box (foodnetworkstore.com $33.95).
Reds and whites can be enjoyed from the more contemporary Riedel “O” TriO 3-piece tumbler set. It’s ideal for a casual setting or carrying to your favorite BYOB (Williams-sonoma.com, $24.95-29.95).