3.1 min readBy Published On: December 22nd, 2011Categories: Features0 Comments

Some ideas for gifting wine and beer from Steve from Eastside Market

People get trapped in the comfort of always buying that wine they know they love (or maybe just recognize – “it’s the one with the Kangaroo on the label!”) and avoiding the risk of trying something new. So I’m of the opinion that gifting wine and beer is a chance to broaden the horizons of the recipient. It gives them the chance to try something new without the anxiety of “am I wasting my money?”.  So when asked for a recommendation,  I’ll ask what the giftee normally likes and then I’ll think of something similar that they may also like.  Here’s some examples of popular wines and alternatives:

Cabernet/Merlot:
Argentinian Malbec (Agua de Piedra $12.99) what I call Merlot’s “spicy cousin” or a Spanish Blend (Ludovicus $$12.99) supple and rich.
Pinot Noir:
Spanish Garnacha (Evodia $11.99) ultra smooth and soft with an interesting hint of blood orange ,  Italian Montepulciano de Abruzzo (Quattro Mani $12.99, Masciarelli $8.99) a light red thats easy on the palate
Pinot Grigio:
Italian Vernaccia (Palagetto $11.99)  or Trebbiano (Masciarelli $8.99) both light, crisp alternatives to their more well known Italian relative or a dry Riesling (Kung Fu Girl $13.99) that is crisp with just a hint of sweet…a perfect match with Sushi and nothing like that sugar wine you got a hangover from in college.
Chardonnay:
Pinot Gris (Ponzi $14.99) from Washington State is, interestingly, the same grape as Pinot Grigio, but due to climate and vinification, tends to have a richer, more substantial mouthfeel that could appeal to a Chardonnay drinker. Or a French Burgundy (Les Charmes $14.99) which is sort of cheating since Burgundy’s are, by law, made of Chardonnay, but I find them to be a bit more elegant than many Californian Chardonnay’s with a more refined use of oak and barrel aging.
Champagne/Sparkling Wine:

Prosecco (Prima Perla $9.99 is a bargain!) a lighter/crisper slightly less bubbly alternative to Champagne. Or a Spanish Cava (Gran Pasion, a true bargain at $11.99 or 2 for $20) which is Spain’s Champagne.  Made under the same strict guidelines of Methode Champenoise, Cava, it is crisp dry and has a nice minerality.

Also,  this might be the time to indulge the giftee with a guilty pleasure that they might not want to buy for themselves.  Ports (Dow’s 200 Vintage $74.99 or Porto Pocas Colheita 1986 $42.99). Or how about a little pricier version of their everyday wine? Cabernet (Smith and Hook $19.99 is one of my favorites), Pinot Noir (Freeman Sonoma Coast $39.99), Brunello (Collosorbo $51.99) or Champagne (Perrier Jouet $43.99, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin $49.99).  Hint:  Brut is dryer than Extra Dry.  Demi-Sec means semi-sweet.

How about that beer drinker?  Beer’s have come a long way from your Dad’s sixer of Schlitz. There are some very substantial beers out there that are now being offered in single, larger format bottles.  Sam Adam’s Infinium, ($19.99 750ml) is a crisp and complex special run by the brewery. Berkshire brewing’s Holidale ($6.25 22oz.) is a Barley Wine style brew that they make special for the holidays (ergo the play on words in the name).  Or maybe a Chimay Gift Pack ($21.85) which offers one of each of the different levels of their Belgian Style ale (red, white and blue) along with the glass they practically insist you use to capture the full essence of their famous creation.  Or grab a bunch of different bombers (the “hip” way to refer to the larger ~ 22oz-ish bottles) for a fun taste test.  Don’t worry about which ones to choose. Just go by names that sound cool and you’ll probably hit most of them right.

Eastside Market

474 Eat Eighth Street