Wine is fun and easy for holiday gift-giving. There’s a price for every pocketbook, it’s appropriate for friends, family and business colleagues and – despite disruptions in many supply chains – Chicagoland merchants are now gearing up for the holidays with the best selection and deepest sales of the year. For your successful wine gifting, here are some tips from The Chopping Block.
A little recon will insure success in gifting wine. First, does your recipient actually enjoy wine? If not, your bottle may end up stashed next to that ugly holiday sweater that’s pulled out only when Aunt Mary visits. What food do they enjoy? Unless you know that your giftee enjoys white wine with red meat for instance, it’s best to follow tried-and-true guidelines. For carnivores, choose a rich red. Vegans and vegetarian diets, with reduced protein and fat, call for lighter red or white wine. For sweet-tooths, choose a wine to complement dessert. We suggest these wines which are available at Lincoln Square:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Requiem
2017, Columbia Valley, Washington $23.50
Substantial, ripe, complex flavors of blackberry, currant, and tobacco leaf, outlined by firm tannin. For meat, the richest poultry and vegetarian dishes.
Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz “MAX” 2017, Aconcagua, Chile $18.00
Dynamic and dry, combining fresh herbs and minerals, for a rich cocktail and complement to all dishes prepared with herbs, olive oil and/or goat cheese.
Moscato d’Asti, Saracco
2017, Piedmont, Italy $19.50
Soft and round with heavenly sweetness and luscious finish, this Italian bubbly is crafted to complement all dolce – from apple pie to zabaglione – as well as rich cheeses, and sweet moments.
You can beef up on your wine and food pairing skills during our Fall Food and Wine Pairing Demonstration on Friday, November 26 at 6:30pm at Lincoln Square. In an ample tasting dinner, we mix-and-match four wines with three courses, to test the “rules” of wine and food and decide on rules of your own.
Shop the Safety
Chardonnay and Cabernet-based wines are top-sellers in the U.S., so these gifts have security in data. Pinot Noir doesn’t lead sales but became a national favorite with the 2005 release of “Sideways.” We recommend:
Pinot Noir, Morgan
2018, Monterey, CA $23.00
Cherries, brown spice and subtle earthiness combine with silky tannin, especially delicious when paired with rich seafood (salmon) and vegetables, grills, Eastern seasonings and lighter meats.
Give an Experience
The Chopping Block offers a range of classes to delight any wine and food lover. While our 2022 classes won’t be released until late November, gift cards don’t expire or lose value and may be applied to any class or retail purchase. For instance, our often-offered pizza class ($190 for two guests) may be gifted with a bottle of wine to enjoy during class, such as:
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barone Cornacchia “Casanova”
2016, Abruzzo, Italy $18.00
Plump and luscious with cherry, herb and currant complexity and velvety tannin. Serve as a rich cocktail and complement to flavory dishes including meaty pasta, rich poultry and the heartiest vegetarian fare.
We’ve got wine classes for every wine drinker, whether an entry-level wine lover or certified cork dork:
How to Bluff Your Way through Wine lays the foundation for all wine knowledge and enjoyment. In this 90-minute seminar, we learn the four simple variables that determine all wine flavors, explore wine history, wine chemistry, food pairing and practice professional tasting technique with five international wines complemented by tasting noshes.
World of Wine, A Tasting Series explores the world’s primary grapes and regions with tasting of eight hand-crafted wines, wine-friendly noshes and discussion led by yours truly. For more information, check out my blog Explore the World of Wine in our New Tasting Series and watch for it to hit our January calendar.
Here, There and Everywhere
If you’d like a shared experience with a giftee living afar, check out our virtual classes! We charge by each screen – not individual guest - and groups can join the fun from anywhere. In Chicago, wines may be purchased at TCB and for long-distance guests, we provide shopping guidance.
$30 White Zinfandel – Not!
As a retailer, I once worked with a panicked shopper who needed to spend $30 on a client who only drank White Zinfandel, generally priced under $10. So, I suggested a White Zin tasting, including the giftee’s favorite brand, another label and a bag of spiced nuts to complement the sweet wine.
To add value, piggy back wine with a complementary gift. For instance, truffle salt - which easily adds exotic flavor to recipes including pasta, risotto and potato dishes – is a delicious complement to Chardonnay.
Our truffle salt ($24.95) makes for an exciting tasting experience paired with:
2019, Russian River Valley, CA 22.50
Layers of tree fruit, brown spice and vanilla flavors, grown in California’s prime Chardonnay region. Serve as a satisfying cocktail and complement to rich appetizers and seafood, vegetables and even meats, especially prepared with butter.
And since truffle is a well-documented aphrodisiac, your giftee (and maybe you!) will be well prepared for Valentine’s Day!