Utah Bites

Holiday Gifts for Wine Lovers

If you’re looking for a great bottle of wine to give as a gift for Christmas, here are some solid suggestions. 


With Christmas just around the bend, I’m devoting this week’s Sip column to many sips for wine lovers. If you’re looking for a great bottle of wine to give as a gift for Christmas, here are some solid suggestions. 

If you’ve ever enjoyed Conundrum ($19.99) white wine from the Wagner Family of Wines, you’re in for a surprise with the current Conundrum vintage. The exact blend of Conundrum is a well-guarded secret, but Proprietor Charles F. Wagner and his crew did a major overhaul of Conundrum recently. The wine used to be fairly sweet, but it’s crisp and dry now – a much better partner for food. According to Wagner, “While the exact blend is under wraps, every vintage includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat Canelli, and Viognier.” Give the new formulation a try; I think you’ll be pleased. And, note that it’s on sale this month in Utah for $14.99. 

Speaking of the Wagner Family of Wines, Merlot aficionados will love finding a bottle of Emmolo Napa Valley Merlot ($54.99) under the Xmas tree. This is a scrumptious wine with grapes sourced from the Oak Knoll district of Napa Valley. It’s lush and rich, brimming with dark berry fruit flavors and smooth, soft tannins. 

From Chile comes two red wines that I like very much, produced by Escudo Rojo, a winery that was created by Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Escudo Rojo 2018 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99) is made in the Bordeaux style, with fruit extraction and well-balanced tannins. The winery suggests pairing it with pan-fried duck breast flavored with black tea or tournedos Rossini. For a few more bucks, Escudo Rojo 2018 Gran Reserva ($21.99) is a great red wine choice. According to the winemakers, it “is a blended wine made from the four different red grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Cabernet Franc (2%), which give the wine refinement and tannic power, while Carmenere (38%) and Syrah (20%) bring body, density and a touch of spice.” 

Pull the cork on Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley 2018 ($45.95) and you’ll first encounter white fruit aromas – apple, pear and white peach, followed by more apple and pear flavors on the tongue. In contrast to so many bombastic California Chardonnays, this one has nicely balanced, subtle oak notes and would make a great gift for lovers of Chardonnay.

2018 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon ($44.99) is rich and concentrated, yet elegant, with bold dark fruit flavors of black currant, plum and black cherry, plus hints of chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla and toasted oak. The folks at Mount Veeder Winery suggest pairing this Cabernet with garlic-rosemary prime rib roast.

How about giving the gift of wines from Israel this holiday season? Somek Chardonnay ($25) is created in the same region that the Baron de Rothschild planted in 1882. Somek is a small family winery creating wines with a sense of belonging. Their 100% Chardonnay is rich with bloomed yellow flowers, honey comb and Meyer lemon. It has faint hints of oak, with notes of wet stone and blanched almonds. For a good Israeli red wine option, give Jezreel Nahalal 2018 ($30) a try. According to the winemakers, “Jezreel Valley Winery was created with the ideal of embracing local varietals while maintaining the style and spirit of the Mediterranean. The sun-loving Grenche, Syrah and Carignan that make up the Nahalal blend are rich and deep with intense flavors. Overall, it’s fruitful, spicy and a reflection of a new world of authentic Israeli wine.” 

For a very special, personalized holiday gift, Moët & Chandon has the perfect solution: Specially Yours customizable gift boxes. The first step is to purchase  Moët Impérial or Imperial Rosé at your local wine store and ensure the Moët & Chandon gift box is included. Then, go to moetpersonalization.com to personalize the lid of the gift box ($10 + tax & shipping). When adorning the front of the box, you have the option of choosing from a bank of suggested words (like Cheers! or Happy Holidays!), or you can choose your own message up to 16 characters. I love Moët Impérial Brut ($49.99), which is Moët & Chandon’s flagship wine. But I like Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé ($59.99) even more, with bright strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavors. It’s a terrific festive wine to greet holiday guests with.  



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Food writer Ted SchefflerOriginally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.

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