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Category Archives: Wine advice

2015 holiday wine gift guide

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2015 holiday wine gift guide

Yes the Wine Sack is chic, but also ridiculously expensive.

This year’s holiday wine gift guide, despite my best efforts to find something incredibly silly, mostly sticks to the basics. And, as always, keep in mind that you’re buying someone a gift they will like, and not something you think they should like because you know more about wine than they do. The 2015 holiday wine gift guide:

Wine openers: Still don’t feel comfortable with a waiter’s corkscrew? The Vinomaster ($40) is a sturdier version of an old reliable, Metrokane’s Rabbit, and at more less the same price. I was impressed with how well put together it was, though it’s not quite as intuitive as the Rabbit. The Barvivo corkscrew ($15) is a nifty turn on the traditional waiter’s corkscrew, with a more flexible double hinge.

Wine books: I would be remiss without mentioning Jon Thorsen’s “Reverse Wine Snob: How to buy and drink great wine” ($18), which follows up on the work he does on his Reverse Wine Snob website, regularly ranked among the top five most influential wine websites on the Internet. Also intriguing: “American Wine: A Coming-of-Age Story” ($30), by Tom Acitelli, which tries to tell the story of the U.S. wine business from the 1960s to today in English and not winespeak. It mostly succeeds, and has generated some criticism for its explanation of the growth — and popularity — of high alcohol wines.

Wine: This is the year for something different, a wine made with grapes or from a region that you might not buy often (or at all). How about the Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling from Australia ($15, sample, 12.5%), a dry wine full of petrol and lemon? Or the Domaine Serol Les Originelles ($15, sample, 13.5%), a gamay from the Loire in France that is as fresh and intriguing as it is unusual?

As silly as we’re getting: The ridiculously expensive Wine Sack ($70), which gives you a way to carry your box wine with you in a fashionable black carryall. The bladder inside the box that holds the wine slips inside the Wine Sack, and the bladder spout fits in an opening on the Wine Sack. Why ridiculously expensive? Because the point of box wine is how cheap it is, and do we really need an accessory for it that costs as much as 3 1/2 boxes? But it does look chic.

More about holiday wine gifts:
Holiday wine gift guide 2014
Holiday wine gift guide 2013
Holiday wine gift guide 2012
Expensive wine 79: North Star Merlot 2010

Why the world hates wine, wine experts, and wine snobs

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Self-denial is an important part of wine; how else are we going to accept so much of the overpriced, underwhelming stuff we buy with such grace? It’s also why we don’t understand why so many others think wine is silly, snotty, and elitist.

Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon is always ready to help burst wine’s bubble, because how else will we teach others to appreciate it as much as we do unless we get rid of the pretension? To that end, consider this clip from a show on TruTV called “Adam Ruins Everything,” where host Adam Conover says that wine is “just totally subjective, like all foods. We don’t need sandwich experts because we know what we like.”

Sound familiar?

For more about wine snobs:
Is wine the last bastion of the snob?
Winebits 391: Wine snobs edition
Five things not to say about wine this holiday season

Get out of your wine rut

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wine rut

“I’m so tired of merlot, but what else is there to drink?”

The only rule of wine that counts — really, the only rule there should be — is to drink what you want, but to be willing to try different kinds of wine. How else will you find out what you like unless you taste something you’ve never tasted before?

Needless to say, given the foolishness that passes for so much wine advice, that’s easier said than done. Is it any wonder that so many wine drinkers give up, confused by toasty and oaky and cigar box aromas? Or that craft beer, because beer is so much easier to understand, could be bigger than the entire California wine business by the end of next year?

Which was the reason for “Get out of your wine rut!“, which I wrote for the Bottom Line Personal newsletter. Regular visitors here might recognize some of the wines I recommend, but the point of the article is about more than the wines. It’s about trying something different because there are thousands of wonderful cheap wines that you might like, if you’ll only give them the chance. Among the suggestions:

• Chenin blanc instead of chardonnay, if you’re looking for something lighter and more fruity. As noted here many times, dry chenin blanc deserves much more attention than it gets.

• Red Rhone blends instead of merlot. These French blends, like the legendary Little James Basket Press, can have more interesting fruit flavors but still offer the merlot softness that many of us like.

• Albarino, the Spanish white, instead of sauvignon blanc. Albarino should be the next big thing, instead of something as old and tired and as hard to find as gruner veltliner, because it offers quality at very affordable prices and is on more store shelves than you’d think.

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