Twelve Wines of Christmas

Wine Enthusiast taps top sommeliers for their favorite gift-worthy bottles.


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If you’re already scratching your head on the first day of Christmas about what bottle to gift your true love—or anyone, for that matter—we’ve got you covered. Wine Enthusiast picked the brains of some of the nation’s best sommeliers for the perfect wines to present to your loved ones on all 12 days of Christmas.

 

 


Bottle: Chartogne-Taillet NV Brut Cuveé Ste. Anne (Champagne), $40

“I always prefer giving Champagne as a gift, especially for Christmas,” says Patrick Cappiello, managing partner and wine director at Pearl & Ash in New York City. “My hope is that it won’t live to see the New Year, or just ‘til the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve.” 

Bottle: Alain Voge 2009 Vieilles Vignes (Cornas), $70

“When I think of wines I like to drink, share and gift during the holidays, I immediately go to wines that pull at my sensory heartstrings,” says Shelley Lindgren, co-owner and beverage director at A16, SPQR, and A16 Rockridge in San Francisco and Oakland. “Cornas has long been one of these special wines.”

Bottle: Robert Sinskey Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir (Carneros), $38

“This Pinot Noir is incredibly versatile, and as Christmas parties can be a smorgasbord of dishes and flavors, a wine like this is necessary,” says Cappie Peete, beverage director at McCraddy’s Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. “Robert Sinskey believes in producing elegant wines with bright acidity so that they can age beautifully. This gives the recipient the freedom to decide whether to share the wine during the holidays or tuck it away for another special occasion.”

Bottle: Grosjean 2005 Fumin (Vallée d’Aoste), $40

“Instead of defaulting to a cult Cabernet or—even though we love Champagne—a predictable bubble this holiday season, explore the wines of Vallée d'Aoste,” says Charlie Berg, assistant sommelier at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. “There is something about [the region’s] snow-covered Alpine slopes and the spicy varietals that evoke a wonderful sense of the yuletide.”

Bottle: Montes 2011 Outer Limits Beyond Frontiers Apalta Vineyard Red (Colchagua Valley), $48

“This blend of 50 percent Carignan, 30 percent Grenache and 20 percent Mourvèdre shows beautiful aromas of dried figs, blackberries and warm cinnamon spice, all flavors that are perfect to complement any holiday gathering,” says Christopher Birnie-Visscher, head sommelier at db Bistro Moderne in Miami. “A wine of this complexity from one of the best vineyards in Chile is a fantastic way to unwrap the holidays.”

Bottle: Cobb 2010 Jack Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast), $150 (11.5L)

‪“Some people fear the size of magnums, although it is only two bottles of wine and typically wine in large format bottles tastes better as the wine has a chance to evolve slower and maintain its freshness,” says Michael Scaffidi, beverage director at Plume Restaurant at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C. “[This wine] is light in body, but the rich flavor of the Sonoma fruit shines through like a powerful dragon.”

Bottle: The Rare Wine Co. NV Historic Series Thomas Jefferson Special Reserve (Madeira), $60

“This legendary beverage would be great for a range of wine lovers from novice to professional,” says John Mitchell, beverage director/sommelier at Stella! Restaurant in New Orleans. “Madeira is eternally good after being opened so it isn't a wine people would have to rush to drink: savor and enjoy it over the entire holiday.”

Bottle: H. Billiot NV Brut Rosé (Champagne), $55

“Champagne is an artisanal product,” says Neal Wavra, general manager and sommelier at The Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Virginia. “Giving such a gift conveys the message that the recipient is deserving of something special and unique.”

Bottle: Brovia 2010 Valmaggione (Nebbiolo d’Alba), $32

“While many of the Brovia Barolos improve with age, the Valmaggione is a complex and astounding Nebbiolo that can be had now or aged,” says Helen Johannesen, director of operations/beverage director at Animal in Los Angeles. “Its rich and welcoming nose, coupled with beautiful linear lines on the palate, are perfect for snuggling up by a fire or drinking with friends. It is an elegant gift that is perfect for this time of year.”

Bottle: Bergström 2011 Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley), $40

“This is a medium-bodied wine, with notes of black cherries, cloves and cinnamon spices, macerated raspberries, all supported by a well-structured frame,” says Alpana Singh, master sommelier and proprietor at The Boarding House in Chicago. “Any wine enthusiast would be pleased to find this in their ‘wine stocking.’ ”

Bottle: Borgo del Tiglio 2010 Studio di Bianco (Collio), $98

“This bottling, made from Friulano, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc vines grown on steep slopes along the Italian-Slovenian border, is one of the estate’s brightest and also longest-aging, and it will grow more nuanced and layered with time,” says Jordan Salcito, beverage director at Momofuku in New York City. “Plus, it’s off the beaten path and likely to stun your recipient with something new for their cellar.”

Bottle: Quinta do Vesúvio 2011 Vintage Port, $75

Friends receiving wine as gifts never open them when they should. It's usually on a visit many years later, when you find that bottle and say ‘you should have opened this five years ago,’” says Nelson Daquip, sommelier at Canlis in Seattle. “So, I went with a wine that will withstand the test of time and guilt of being opened too soon.” 

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