It’s hard to believe that next week is Christmas, and we just finished Hanukah festivities. Whether you celebrate one of these holidays, another one, or just the time of year, you probably have a list of people that you want to a little something special for. Don’t panic! Here are a few last minute gifts that are sure to please the wine lovers in your life! Wine bottle totes – I love these cute little neoprene bottle holders. They make a great gift in of themselves, but you can put your favorite bottle of wine inside and make even more special. I love these soft, cushioned totes for parties, and they even keep those whites chilled! CBreeze design will monogram them for you, which makes a great custom gift. Choose from a variety of designs and accents, and your monogram. They also have wine tote bags and other designs. ($28) Built New York has a large selection of wine accessories, including the City Tote, which is the perfect light weight reusable bag for your your shopping needs. ($40). They also have wine totes, which come in a 20201 or 2 bottle version. Slightly taller than the CBreeze version, the Built wine tote is great for larger bottles and those odd shaped sparkling bottles. ($15-18). Tattinger & Dita Von Teese – Who doesn’t like bubbles at this time of year? If you are celebrating something, on consoling yourself, sparkling wine makes everyone happy. To celebrate the launch of Dita Von Teese’s new book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, from famed Burlesque star Von Teese, Champagne Taittinger has worked with Dita to envision the perfect DIY Beauty & Bubbles Bash to host at home! With the glitzy holiday packaging, even the box is a party, not to mention the nectar inside. ($50 champagne) With instructions on how to build your own Champagne Tower, pirating advice, and more fun, this is a great party starter. The book is fabulous too, and makes an awesome gift for someone who want to learn more about how Dita empowered herself, and broke all the rules, while defining a new style at the same time. ($30 book) VinoMaster Wine Opener – similar to the Orignial Rabbit, this wine opener is a great tool to have in your bar. The VinoMaster makes opening one, or many, bottles, super easy! The simple lever action is fantastic for any one with manual dexterity issues, with arthritis, or just opens tons of wine. $45 And don’t forget, Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Wine! Joyeaux Noel, and Happy New Year!
During the holidays, more often than not, we celebrate with something sparkling. For some it might be the old classic Champagne; others, California Sparkling. But have you tried Franciacorta? Franciacorta, the DOCG region in Lombardy, Italy, is known for it’s excellent sparkling wines made in the traditionally method – meaning, the secondary fermentation occurs int bottle and not by, shall we say, the soda stream for wine or a bulk method. Lombardy is perfect for sparkling wine, where the Alps meet the Lago d’Iseo, moderating temperatures and making the traditional grapes for sparkling wines grow so well. Since Franciacorta was the first Italian sparkling wine to have the secondary fermentation int he bottle, and since the producing region is the first traditional method sparkling wine in Italy to reach DOCG status, they really are a treat. Since becoming a DOCG (the highest level of regional wine designations in Italy) in 1995, Franciacorta has set strict rules governing the production of it’s sparkling wines. Using the same Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Bianco) and Pinot Noir grapes that are traditionally used in France, Franciacorta requires lengthy aging and hand harvesting, to maintain in increase quality. With five distinct styles, there is something for everyone! Some of my favorite products that I have been enjoing this season are reviewed below. So this holiday, go out and say Cin Cin to Franciacorta! Berlucchi Franciacorta Brut – 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero (Noir). Yeasty, buttered toast, crisp lemon curd. Beautiful bright acidity with the richness of cream and ripe pears. This would be fantastic with oysters or brunch, and at $30, an affortable alternative to Champagne. With only 12.9% ABV, this is a sipper you can enjoy all day! Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut – 80% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero (Noir), 10% Pinot Bianco (Blanc) – a field of flowers, with rich yellow and green hues, Tuscan melon and lime jump out of the glass along with stone fruit and a slight green herbal note. $23 for this beauty rivals some of the better Proseccos and would be lovely in a Spritz or other cocktail. If you would like to check out some of the other styles of Franciacorta, they range from dry to sweet, and have a host of other style elements such as the typically 100% Chardonnay Saten. A Millesimato is vintage sparkler that is aged at least 30 months. So, the next time you are having a party, consider stocking up on some Franciacorta, and wow your party guests with Italy’s fastest growing sparkling wine category! These bottles of deliciousness were provided as PR samples, but all sips and tips are mine!