It’s that time of year where you get to stress about finding the perfect gift for everyone you love — thank goodness we have wine to power us through hours of endless internet scrolling, eh? — but we think we can make it all a little easier for you this go around.
If your friends and family love wine (and if they don’t, are they even really your friends?) you can’t go wrong with any of these gifts. We also highly recommend picking out a few items for yourself, too. Nobody has to know.
The Top Wines for Gifting
Billecart Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut 2007
We fully subscribe to the “Champagne Every Day” mantra. Good bubbly should not just be reserved for New Year’s Eve and special occasions, but that said, it’s an absolute staple of the Holiday season and your sparkling wine-sipping quota should double, at least. Billecart is a standby, a classic that never goes out of style, and this 2007 vintage of the Cuvée Nicholas François — one of Billecart’s top-tier offerings — is not only worthy of the jolliest of celebrations, but it’s also a steal at $129 (which means you’ll probably want at least two bottles). Holiday gifting tip: gift this at a celebration you’re attending, so that you can delight in it as well. Or, wrap it up and put your own name on the tag with “From: Santa.”
Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru 2008
Most of us can’t afford to gift everyone we love expensive Champagne upwards of $100 a bottle. So this Blanc de Blancs from a tiny grower within a Grand Cru Chardonnay region is an excellent budget option that will overdeliver on the brioche-like taste that Champagne lovers, well, love. After 11 years on the lees, and another two in the bottle, this baby is ready to be popped on Christmas morning.
Beau Vigne Cabernet Sauvignon Juliet Napa Valley 2016
Christmas has come early with this Napa Valley Cabernet from a 100-point winemaker, Kirk Venge, for — drumroll, please — under $50. Whoever you gift this to will certainly think it was much, much more expensive, because these days, nobody really believes you can get a great Napa Cab for a price like this. It’s also the 2016 vintage, which means it’ll be primed for drinking in case the giftee wants to open it immediately upon unwrapping.
Frisson Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 2018
OK, so if you thought the price of the Beau Vigne was good, wait until you see what you can get this bottle from the killer Cab-producing Napa Valley AVA of Rutherford for. While it’s typically $105, you can snag a bottle of this Frisson Cab for everyone on your gift list for the incredible price of two Jacksons. That’s $40 for an outstanding bottle of Napa Cabernet, so grab your sweatpants, get cozy on your couch, and complete your shopping with just a few clicks whilst sipping a hot toddy. At least, that’s how we plan to do it.
Top Non-wine Gifts and Experiences
Glassware They’ll Love
We’re not saying that this handblown glassware from Estelle makes wine taste even better, but we’re not saying it won’t either. At the very least, it will make a statement at the recipient’s next dinner party. Traditional or stemless wine glasses are available in a variety of stunning hues — pinks and blues and greens and more — making this a much more personal gift than your standard stemware. Estelle even has Champagne coupes and flutes and decanters so pretty they could be mistaken for oversized perfume bottles.
We all have that friend that always seems to struggle opening a bottle of wine, and frankly, it’s hard to watch. Save them (and yourself) the trouble with a rechargeable automatic wine opener, which eliminates the need to ever fight with a corkscrew again. This one even has a foil cutter, for we all know that’s where the trouble begins.
A Wine Country Experience
We’ve all spent the last two years mostly cooped up at home, so there’s no better year to give the gift of wine country via an in-person experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The train offers a myriad of scenic wine and food rides up and down Napa Valley throughout the year (you can purchase a gift card here), but their holiday excursions are extra magical. Perhaps it sounds a little cheesy — this time of year just brings it out of us — but many of the wineries along Hwy 29 completely deck themselves out in twinkling lights that you’d otherwise miss while wine tasting in the daylight. It’s a view of Napa Valley that most visitors miss, plus you don’t have to worry about finding a designated driver.
Looking for other unique wine country gift ideas? Check out the falconry experience at Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery or the bubbles and caviar brunch at Davies Vineyards (Schramsberg’s sister winery), both in Napa Valley. There’s also horseback riding through the vines at Barthowlemew Estate in Sonoma or a helicopter tour and tasting with Eden Rift, located just north of Monterey Bay in the lesser-known Cienega Valley.
A Gift that Gives Back
There’s no doubt that it’s been a tough couple of years for restaurants and this gift helps support Napa Valley’s restaurant community, all the while bringing a taste of wine country’s culinary mecca to your home kitchen. Featuring 36 recipes from Napa Valley’s top restaurants (including a few cocktails), The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook has the deets on iconic recipes like chef Cindy Pawlycyn’s Mustards Mighty Meatloaf, Bounty Hunter’s Beer Can Chicken, Gott’s Ahi Burger, and Charlie Palmer’s famous Lobster Corn Dogs. There’s even a wine pairing from a Napa Valley winery paired with each dish, selected by Napa Master Somm Desmond Echavarrie. Seventy-five percent of proceeds from the cookbook go directly to Napa restaurant workers while 25 percent go to Feed Napa Now, an organization that partners with restaurants to feed the local community in need.