Wine of the Week: Last-minute wine gift guide

WASHINGTON — ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless, of course you’re one of those people who have waited until the last minute to buy a hostess gift or present for the wine lover on your list. And to really complicate matters this season, this year the first night of Hanukkah coincides with Christmas Eve.

But fear not, you have an opportunity to bring a great deal of comfort and joy into everyone’s celebratory wineglass this weekend. However, there may be a few things you need to consider when giving wine and good cheer this holiday season.

First, for what kind of wine lover are you buying? Are they into red wines or white wines? Do they prefer domestic or international wines? Table wines or dessert wines? Second, of course, is budget. Not all great wines are expensive and not all expensive wines are great. It would be a shame to go out and spend a lot of money on a bottle of wine that is either underappreciated or, worse, never opened.

So what is the perfect wine to give as a gift? While the world — and wine shop — is your proverbial oyster, the best advice I can give you at this late date is, “Well, if it was me …”

You can never go wrong with giving the most versatile wine in the world, Champagne. And this season, Moet & Chandon, one of the most prominent Champagne houses in France, has even gone the extra step of “gift-wrapping” their Imperial Brut in a festive golden jacket that doubles as an insulator to keep the wine cold while taking center stage on your table. Better still, the Nonvintage Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut tastes great, offering up scents of roasted nuts and baked bread on the nose, and vivacious flavors Honey Crisp apple, pear and citrus fruit with just a hint of fresh baked bread. $41

My favorite way to drink great wine is with a great meal, so when I think about the perfect wine gift, I want it to be food-friendly. If the recipient of your goodwill is celebrating this holiday season with latkes (fried potato pancakes) and roast chicken, then the 2014 Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Chardonnay from California will certainly be appreciated. Made from a blend of Alexander Valley and Bennett Valley Chardonnay fruit, the wine features flavors of apple cobbler, candied Meyer lemon, grilled peach, kumquat, roasted marshmallows and hints of vanilla. The wine has a beautiful texture and savory mouth feel, with perfectly balanced acidity. $21

If your guest is celebrating the holiday season with a baked ham or rack of lamb, then your bottle of 2010 Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape from the southern Rhone region of France will be a most welcomed guest at the table. Guigal still remains the benchmark by which most Rhone producers are measured. This red blend can play well with a wide variety of main course dishes. It features a medium-bodied frame with ample flavors of dark plum, baking spices, cherry jam, olive tapenade and black raspberry. Subtle notes of smoked meat and cedar wood round out the long and elegant finish. $40

Of course, if you want your gift recipient to end their holiday season on a sweet note, then consider giving a dessert wine that will be the envy of anyone with a sweet tooth — or empty glass. The 2013 Seifried “Sweet Agnes” Riesling from Nelson, New Zealand is a fun and delicious dessert wine featuring intense flavors of dried apricot, honeysuckle, orange blossoms and candied ginger that are rich and concentrated on the palate. The abundant acidity keeps the wine fresh and the flavors in balance and the finish long and clean. $23 for a half bottle (375 mL)

I hope you get the wine you wish for this year and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

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