What to consider for a wine-lover this Christmas

The "12 Days of Christmas" takes on an especially flavorful tone when one puts wine into the equation.

While preparing to decorate for Christmas, I came across “A Wine Lover’s Christmas” tea towel. The words are meant to be sung to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas" and reads like so:

“A Pinot in a Pear Tree / Two Toasting Friends / Three French Blends / Four Hearty Cabernets / Five Golden Sauternes / Six Corkscrews Turning / Seven Sommeliers a Serving / Eight Charming Chardonnay's / Nine Vines a-Winding / Ten Crushers Crushing / Eleven Casks a-Corking / Twelve Snobs Sniffing.”

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Is there useful information here, or simply a cute verse? I believe there is a bit of both.

First, the pinot in the pear tree:No need for a tree but Pinot, whether the red wine Pinot Noir or the white wines Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Gris/Grigio, is very versatile and food-friendly. Although pairing with specific foods is best, these wines are all-around easy drinking wines with or without food. Exactly what one needs for a hostess gift.

Suggested selections include Quails' Gate Pinot Noir, (Canada, $26.99); Quails’ Gate Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, (Canada, $22.06); and Pfeiffer Pinot Grigio, (Australia, $19.99).

Two toasting friends: What could be better?  Friends celebrating the season. Why stop at two friends?

Three French blends: French wines are the most emulated wines in the world and for good reason. Wine is produced from the northern wine-making areas of Champagne and the Loire Valley to the borders of the south and east, so there is much to choose from, whether red, white, rose, sparkling or dessert wines.

Suggested selections include Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, (France, $81.99); Ortas Prestige Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Villages, (France, $25.99); and Mason Saint AIX Provence Rose, (France, $22.99).

Four hearty cabernet: Cabernet Sauvignon is the more popular and hearty of the Cabernets. Cabernet Sauvignon is extremely popular and there are many options in a broad range of prices. These include Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, (U.S.A., $47.09); Elderton Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon, (Australia, $28.99); J Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, (U.S.A, $26.99); and St Hallett The Reward Cabernet Sauvignon, (Australia, $30.99).

Five golden sauternes: Sauternes is a famous dessert wine from the Bordeaux area of France. It is sweet, luscious, decadent and quite costly. Taste Sauternes and you will be a covert. Sauternes is a white blend of mostly Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc meaning this blended wine is a solid choice for the Three French Blends should you wish to substitute.

There are only two sauternes available locally, leaving me three short, although a selection of Sauternes are available in Winnipeg private wine boutiques.

Sauternes examples include Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes 2011, (France, $141.59); Chateau d'Arche Sauternes Grand Cru Classe AOC 2010, ($29.23 (375 ml)).

Six corkscrews turning: There’s no need to turn them all at once. Corkscrews are a wonderful gift for the wine lover and range from inexpensive to ridiculously expensive.

Seven sommeliers a-serving: I am the only sommelier located outside of Winnipeg, so let me know if you need some advice.

Eight charming chardonnays: Chardonnay is referred to as the winemakers’ grape. It was given this title because of its versatility, ability to thrive in many climates and countries and, perhaps most importantly, its ability to transform itself to reflect winemaking techniques. From light to full bodied, austere to flamboyant, youthful, aged, fruity, toasty, sparkling or still.

Examples include Simonnet Febvre Chablis, (France, $26.01); Zuccardi Q Chardonnay, (Argentina, $23.99); Quails' Gate Chardonnay, ($22.99); Trapiche Gran Medalla Chardonnay, (Argentina, $25.99); Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay, (U.S.A., $24.99); J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay, ($23.99); Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay, (Chile, $21.99); Jaffelin Chardonnay Pouilly Fuisse, (France, $37.95).

Nine vines a winding: Given the climate, there is no source of fresh green vines I can think of. In the very least none that aren’t buried under snow.

Ten crushers crushing: No need to labour. Harvest is past.

Eleven casks a-corking: A fabulous excuse to travel to warmer climes and tour tasting facilities. At times, tours include what is referred to as barrel samples where the cork or stopper is removed and wine sample extracted for tasting purposes.

Twelve snobs sniffing: I must point out that while many interpret the assessment of wines aromatics as an unnecessary and snobby gesture, it is essential to the assessment of a wines aromas which is accomplished by “nosing the wine.”

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