2017 Wine Gift Giving Guide: Jaw Dropping Gifts
“What do you want for Christmas?” are the six words that always stop me in my tracks. Not because I am a scrooge or I do not like exchanging gifts. On the contrary, I love the holidays and giving gifts to friends and family. I love the look of joy and the smiles a perfectly selected gift brings. Well then, why does “What do you want for Christmas?” bring on temporary paralyze? It is stuff. The thought of having more stuff. I don’t want more stuff. Stuff adds clutter to my overly generous furnished home. I prefer to give experiences to people. Something they hopefully enjoy doing, which will create lasting memories. The jaw dropping gifts list is composed of items or experiences that will create memories for your wine lover.
WineCream is homemade ice cream and wine. The WineCream creators did the impossible. They made dessert better. They improved everyone’s frozen dessert by adding wine. Located in Baltimore City, WineCream has a tasting room where you witness their unique process of making the ice cream and delight in tasting their fruity wine ice cream. You can schedule private tastings. Your visit includes a tour of the historical industrial building, ice demonstration and a tasting. They have seasonal flavors like Apple Pie, Caramel Pie and Peach Cobbler. You taste between 4 and 6 ice creams. If you not interested in the onsite tasting, WineCream does ship locally. $15 for tasting fees, $14.99 pint of ice cream (Shipping not included) purchased online WineCream
Make Your Own Wine
While sipping a glass of Pinot Noir do you ever say to yourself, “I could make this”? We found a place that allows you to get your wish. The Urban Winery (Silver Spring, MD) offers wine making classes. Here is your chance to show off your inner winemaker. You can geek out over the whole wine making experience. The wine classes are small… you and 5 of your favorite people are the average size group. It is a two part experience. During your first visit, you select the varietal and make the wine with the resident winemaker. About 10 – 14 weeks later, you go back to The Urban Winery to bottle, cork and label your wine. When it is all said and done, you make approximately six gallons or 3 cases of wine. Call or email The Urban Winery to book your event $500 – $700 per group
29 Bottle Wine Cooler
A couple years ago my brother gave me a wine chiller refrigerator for Christmas. He immediately became my favorite brother. (By the way, he is my only sibling). It has the dual temperature settings for white and red wines. It is conveniently stored in my basement where I cellar my wine. The chiller’s compressor cycles, as a result it can be a little loud and expends a lot of energy are the only draw backs. I heard similar concerns expressed by other chiller owners. So, when NewAir contacted me about testing their 29-Bottle Black Stainless Wine Cooler, I had reservations. How could this be different then my current wine frig? In the name of wine, I gave it a try.
Immediately, I noticed NewAir 29 wine bottle cooler is a fourth slimmer than mine. Interesting. It holds the same number of bottles, but it is slimmer. The cooler is a sleek black stainless-steel model. It is perfect for people who do not have a lot of space, but need to accommodate at least two cases of wine. It has similar functionality, like dual temperature controls and adjustable wood rack trays, as in my current one. However, it is noticeably quieter. I did not hear the compressor cycling. NewAir is energy efficient. An unexpected surprise, was the lock. I can secure the cooler. This feature is great for people with kids and keeping wine in the “right” hands. I hope I do not lock myself out. I look forward to filling my new wine cooler and the new experiences each wine bottle will bring. The nice people at NewAir is offering a discount to Vino 301 followers. Use code VINO for 20% off the NewAir AWR-290DB-B Black Stainless Wine Cooler when you are purchasing online. $829.95 NewAir.com
Wine & Cheese Tour
Cheese frequently comes to mind when you think of serving wine. So why not have cheese during your wine tour? Vino 301 is offering a Wine and Cheese tour in 2018. Your adventure begins with a cheese and wine pairing, where Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. Romano Vineyard and Winery produces handcrafted award-winning wines from their estate grown grapes and grapes from custom growers. PA Bowen make award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses, and we are a pasture-based sustainable farm. Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). $115 per person. Wine & Cheese Tour
Wine Stocking Stuffers and Small Presents
People who drink wine, love wine, practice at the altar of Cabernet Sauvignon are the easiest people to buy gifts for. You give them wine. Wine never goes out of style. It is always the perfect fit. Wine is what you get a wine lover. But, sometimes you want to add a little something else to the gift bag. Here are some inspirations to get the gift giving juices flowing. Below are a few wine stocking stuffers and small presents you can include with your wine gift.
Homesick Maryland Candle
Homesick candles caught my eye immediately. The state inspired labels stood out. Homesick’s designers created state specific labels for each of their candles. Yes, there is a Maryland candle. Beautifully simple, the label is a silhouette of Maryland. The Maryland candle is lightly scented and burns evenly. It is not a travel candle, but I take mine with me. It is calming and reminds me of home. You can order online at Homesick Candles or pick up one at the Annapolis Pottery. $29
Annapolis Pottery was offering a honey tasting when I purchased my Homesick candle. Intrigued by the different flavors, I had to try the honey. Bourbon, cinnamon, chipotle, chocolate, salted honey are some flavors available. Cloister Honey is the caviar of honey. It takes honey to the next level. The honey can be poured over cheese. The Bourbon honey is especially delicious when you serve with Brie. The honey is also spreadable. Yes, I said spreadable. The cinnamon can be spread on toast. These honeys are an excellent addition to a cheese plate. You can purchase single 3oz honey pot or a customize a set of three at Annapolis Pottery. $8 per honey pot.
Fall Splendor Gift
Capital Gift Baskets assembles the most amazing gift baskets. Lauri Willamson, Capital Gift Baskets owner, adds the personal touches that evokes Oooos and Awwws. Fall Splendor Gift is a wine lovers delight. The basket has right touches of crunchy parmesan bruschetta crisps with smooth gourmet brie cheese spread and Sweet on the Bubbly’s strawberry and champagne jam. A porcelain tapas plate with silver spreader adds to the celebration. Almonds and Zoe’s delightful chocolate truffles make this gift complete. Capital Gift Basket is a local company that can ship throughout United States. $85 (Shipping to US addresses included)
Wine Nots is the latest magician in making wine tongue disappear. Do you know what is wine tongue? Wine tongue is when your tongue and mouth is stained by red wine. Wine Nots effervescent tablets are placed on your tongue. It fizzes and in seconds your mouth returns to its normal color. Red wine stains are GONE! There are 12 tablets in each box. Get a few boxes and place in your favorite red wine lover stocking. Available at Wine Nots or Amazon.com $9
Wine Glass Markers by the Best of Lucy
Throw away your wine charms! Wine charms are nice, even cute but you never had enough for everyone at a party. There is always enough Wine Glass Markers. You and your guests can write your name on your wine glasses, so you do not confuse glasses. The markers are available in multiple colors, usually five markers in a box. The ink does not stain your glass and easily removable. You can purchase them on Amazon or upscale home goods store. $6.99
Vino 301 Tees
When Vino 301 Tour Ambassadors are bouncing to vineyard to vineyard they are frequently asked, “Where did you get your shirt?” Keep Calm and Take A Wine Tour and Got Vino? Tee-shirts are our most popular shirts. Make sure your wine lover is properly adorned when they are enjoying their favorite grape. The Vino 301 shirts are available in a variety of colors and sizes (S, M, L. XL, XXL). Available at Vino 301 website $22.
Wine Tasting Notebook
Does your favorite wine lover have to share with you the color, nose, palate and all of his tasting notes before he can enjoy his wine? I have the perfect gift for you! Give him a notebook to record his thoughts. Steve De Long published the Wine Tasting Notebook It is a pocketsize notebook and wine guide. Your wine lover can record their tasting notes while learning how to taste wine like a professional. Vivid graphics, wine tasting terms and how to taste wine is included in the notebook. After using this notebook your wine lover will be a Master of Wine. Available at DeLongwine.com or Amazon.com $7.95
5 Wines You Must Try This Fall
Fall appeared to sneak up so quickly. Summer was just here, long sunny days and warm evenings. Before you know it, the leaves are changing and the nights are longer. Fall was here without warning. Fall is definitely here. Just like the seasons are transitioning, people are transitioning to earthier, spicier and fuller body wines. We found wines that will make your transition to fall easier. Here are five wines you must try before fall ends.
Rocky Shoals, Slack Farm (Leonardtown, MD)
There is never a bad time to have sparkling wine. Have a tough day at work; have a glass of sparkling. Win the lottery; have a glass of sparkling. It is 4:00 pm; have a sparkling glass of wine. See what I mean, never a bad time.
Slack Farm’s Rocky Shoals sparkling wine is always good to enjoy. Fall is a better time of year to enjoy this cranberry red color, demi-sec sparkling wine. You are immediately greeted with a lot of fuzz and mellows to a mild effervesces. There are fruity notes of strawberries and raspberries on the nose. You will enjoy tart cherries and rhubarb on the palate.
Zuccàto Pumpkin Spice, Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery (Havre de Grace, MD)
In this season of pumpkin spice this and that, it is not surprising there is a pumpkin wine. Someone had to do it. Pumpkin wine sounds odd and gimmicky. But, it is not. Trust me. Zuccàto wine puts you in the mood to go to the pumpkin patch or visit the apple orchard. Its color is striking, brilliant autumn gold. Clove, nutmeg are the spices you smell. The spices are more pronounced when you taste the wine. You also get hints of applesauce on the palate and baked bread. This is a seasonal wine. Mount Felix only produces this wine this time of year and it sells out every year. Do not wait to try it.
Peach Kissed, Harford Vineyard &Winery (Forest Hill, MD)
Why are we recommending a peach wine in the fall? Shouldn’t we wait until the spring to discuss peaches? Its name, Peach Kissed, leads you to believe it is a light airy wine. By its name, it is expected that it is a sweet wine. Its name is deceiving. It is not a fruit wine. It is a wine that has hints of peaches. It is not a sweet wine, but an earthy wine. The wine is pale straw color. What is most striking are the spice flavors, you would enjoy in a warm peach pie. The finish lingers in anticipation for your next sip.
2015 Concerto, Harmony Vineyards and Winery (Baltimore County)
Harmony Vineyards is one of Maryland’s lesser known vineyards because it does not have a public tasting room. However, if you frequent Baltimore restaurants or Mills wine store Harmony wines are very popular. I stumbled upon Harmony’s Concerto at Mills and I am happy I did. Concerto is a blend of Merlot 66%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22%, Petit Verdot 5%, Barbera 4% and Syrah 3%. Aged in 18 months in new and old French oak. It is the perfect wine to serve at Thanksgiving dinner or sip by itself. Its color is velvet. The black fruit aromas capture you when the bottle is uncorked. An enjoyable medium body, mild tannin wine has mineral notes and cook fruit like plums and currant on the palate. Concerto is an excellent excuse to go out to dinner.
2015 Pinot Noir, Black Ankle Vineyard (Mt. Airy, MD)
As far as I am concern Oregon and Washington winemakers have a foot up on us when growing Pinot Noir grapes. Not saying west coast winemakers are superbly smarter or better. They just have better conditions to grow Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is an extremely difficult grape to grow well on the east coast. You have to have the right, maybe even perfect, growing conditions to cultivate this grape. These conditions influence what goes into the bottle. I have tried many right coast Pinot Noirs and very few have left a meaningful impression until this weekend.
It was by chance I had an opportunity to try this particular Pinot Noir. One of the Tour Ambassador’s became sick and I had to substitute for her. The tour was to Black Ankle Vineyard on the Westminster Regional Tour. One of Black Ankle’s Assistant Managers told me have to try this Pinot Noir. Skeptically, I thought not even Black Ankle can make a noteworthy Pinot. I was wrong. Aged 18 months in French oak, it is a beautiful jewel tone garnet. Fruit forward on the nose, but not overwhelming. You are greeted with Bing cherries, currants and smoke. There is generous minerality, soft tannin, and medium body. Black Ankle’s Pinot Noir is limited in production. If you are interested in being wowed, take a trip to Black Ankle.
Cheers to fall! You can purchase most of these wines from the vineyards’ websites.
Interested in more wine recommendations, join Vino 301’s mailing list