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Uncork the cheer: 16 wines to give — or get — for Christmas

Published December 13, 2012 1:49 pm

Gifts • Experts highlight 16 wines — and match each to the type of drinker who would love to find it under the tree.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

We suggest you stop giving family and friends small appliances they won't use or sweaters that don't fit for Christmas. Instead, give them something they really want — wine.

Of course, one bottle won't fit every taste, so we asked several Utah experts to suggest wines that will please the special people on your list. Here's what they said:

For the princess • 2010 Principessa Gavi, Italy $13.99. Pale straw in color with a fresh and fruity bouquet, this wine has a crisp taste and a gentle acidity. Utah wine broker Drew Ellsworth described it as "very minerally," which makes it taste great with seafood, especially oysters, as well as chicken or veal. Named for the legendary princess who eloped with her forbidden lover to Italy's Cavi region.

For the golfer • Greg Norman sparkling wine, Australia $15. Score a hole-in-one with this bubbly produced for world-class golfer Greg Norman. It's made with a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier grapes. When Ellsworth tasted it for the first time, he thought it was "as good as a $35 French Champagne."

For the blue-collar guy • Castle Creek Outlaw Red, Moab, $12.95. Straight from Utah's red rock country — the famed hideout for outlaws like Butch and Sundance — comes this no-nonsense red table wine. Cowboys and blue-collar guys will love it with a beef steak or hearty meal. Campfire not required.

For the connoisseur • 2008 Chateaux Margaux, France, $871. This wine comes from the famed Bordeaux region of France and is produced at one of the area's most prestigious estates. That pedigree, makes this the most expensive 750-ml bottle sold in Utah wine stores. The 2008 vintage is said to be superior to previous years, making it even more remarkable, said Jake Byrnes, a supervisor at the Utah State Wine store in Salt Lake City.

For the bargain hunter • 2008/2009 Chateau Carbonnieux Graves, France, $64.99. Can't afford the Chateaux Margaux mentioned above? No problem. Byrnes said this wine costs significantly less, but is comparable, coming from the same region and made with a similar blend of grapes. "It's a big style, definitely not for the novice."

For the golden child • 2007 Chateau d'Yquem, France, $565 (375-ml bottle). Because it comes in a smaller, 375-ml bottle, this late-harvest sweet wine actually costs more per ounce than any other wine in Utah. "It's liquid gold," Byrnes says. It's made from semillion grapes that have been left on the vine until they become raisins; and by that time a mold, called botrytis, has formed. But this is a welcome fungus that gives the wine characteristics of ripe, honey-drenched fruit.

For the locavore • Slide Ridge CaCysir, Utah, $24. This amber-colored wine is "so unique and different," Byrnes said, "and I love that it's local." Produced in Cache Valley, this sweet wine is made from honey, a blend of seven different apple varieties and just a touch of grape. Serve it with cheese or pasta. It also goes with caramel, custard or fruit desserts.

For the traveler • 2009 Raventos i Blanc Reserva Brut, Spain, $19.99. The Raventos family of Spain has been producing cava — sparkling wine — from their estate vineyards for more than 500 years. It's crisp with citrus notes and peach aromas, said Michael Grisley, with P.R. Grisley wine importers. "It has wonderful acidity to cut through richer holiday dishes, yet is still refreshing enough to drink on its own." Cava is considerably less expensive than Champagne, and can be just as good.

For the romantic • 2006 Gloria Reynolds "Tinto Real" Portugal, $13.99. This rich, warming red wine, from the Alentejo region in southern Portugal is a great wine to serve with all types of hearty dishes including braised or roasted meats, soups and stews, and it even pairs well with hard sheep's milk cheeses, Grisley said. It has concentrated dark fruit and berry notes, and a slightly sweet, juicy quality "that makes you want to keep sipping it while you warm up by the fireplace."

For the sweet tooth • Lustau "Old East India" Sherry, Spain, $14.29 (375-ml bottle). One of the best — and most underrated — wines in the world is sherry, Grisley said. "Many people are either scared of it, or have only tasted one style and have written it off as not for them." But sherry runs the spectrum of wine styles, from bone dry to sweet with the viscosity of molasses. This particular bottle is sweeter, with notes of maple syrup, brown sugar, and exotic spices. It's a great dessert wine by itself or — for an "insanely sweet treat" — drizzle it over vanilla ice-cream with almonds and raisins for dessert.

For the dinner host • 2010 Joguet Chinon Rosé, France, $22.95. Dry rosé wines have become more popular in recent years as consumers have learned to separate this favorite European table wine from the sweet, low-quality white Zinfandel and "blush" wines that were produced in California in the 1970s and 1980s. This particular bottle originates is Chinon in Touraine, Loire Valley, and is made from the Cabernet Franc grapes. Rosé wines pair with many foods, including the holiday ham, says Utah wine broker, Gus Magann, of Vine Lore.

For the meat lover • 2008 Chateau Tour Bayard from Montagne-Saint-Emilion, France, $21.99. This red, from France's famed Bordeaux region, "would be fantastic with your Christmas Prime Rib dinner," said Sheral Schowe, a Utah wine educator and owner of Wasatch Academy of Wines.

For the skeptic • 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, France, $96. The aromatics in this wine "are meant for the holidays; hazelnuts, roasted pears and touch of butterscotch," explains Jim Santangelo, wine educator and owner of The Wine Academy of Utah. It "will give someone the feeling they're tasting Chardonnay for the first time from a grape they've had a million times before. This happens with Grand Cru white Burgundy."

For the historian • 2005 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 'Cask 23' Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $190. This Cabernet has notes of sweet black fruit and cloves, says Santangelo. It comes from the same winery that competed — and won — the 1976 "Judgement of Paris," a blind taste test between French Bordeaux wines and Napa Valley Cabernets.

For the art lover • 2010 Stemmler Nugent Pinot Noir 2010, Carneros, California, $34.99. This bottle combines art and wine, says Liz Lister, with Double L Beer and Spirits Brokerage Co. The artwork on the label portrays a portion of the famous Vendages Tapestry, a depiction of the grape harvest woven in Flanders in the late 15th Century, which now hangs in Cluny Museum in Paris.

For the organic eater • 2006/2007 Volker Eisele Cabernet, Napa Valley, California, $33. This wine is 100-percent certified organic, said Lister, with all the fruit grown on the estate vineyard.

kathys@sltrib.com; Twitter @kathystephenson; and Facebook.com/kathy.k.stephenson