Guest Post by Natalie MacLean
“Wine is one of the few presents that makes both the giver and the receiver look good,” says Natalie MacLean, the red-nosed e-sommelier behind nataliemaclean.com, one of the largest wine web sites. “You look like you spent a bundle on the gift (even if you didn’t) and the recipients are happy that you think they know something about wine (even if they don’t).”
Here are some wine recommendations for the Top 10 Tough-To-Buy-For People on Your Holiday List:
1. Hairdresser: For the person who combines humor and optimism every time she styles your mop. Go for a light, gulpable wine like a dry rosé. It’s versatile and fuss-free—a great quaff for your coif.
2. Psychiatrist: Of course, he’ll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that’s all about balance. Easy-drinking pinot noir is medium-bodied yet packed with flavor. Surprise him with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Big thinking means big progress for you. This wine also works for psychologists, marriage counselors and bartenders.
3. The Boss: Pick too pricey a wine and your boss will think your last raise was too much; go cheap, and she’ll think you lack judgement. Focus on a label with a lot of white space since that makes the bottle look more expensive. A castle in the distance also works, but avoid fluffy animals.
4. Personal Trainer: Think a muscular, robust red would work? Hold that position. Instead, try riesling: this light white wine pairs well with a health-nut diet of salad and seafood, plus it’s low in alcohol. You can also give it to Pilates instructors, yoga masters and Tai Chi coaches.
5. Financial Planner: You and he both know it’s going to take decades before your portfolio recovers after the crash of 2008. With that long-term view, vintage port makes the perfect gift. This fortified wine from northern Portugal, with its long aging potential, will be around for both of you into your retirements.
6. Travel Agent: She’s been everywhere and seen everything, so go local with your choice of wine. Even better, if you live close to the winery, get the bottle signed by the winemaker.
7. Teacher: If you can’t find a suitably obscure wine with a Latin name, there’s always cream sherry. It’s the tipple of Oxford dons, not to mention the centerpiece of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Case of the Amontillado.
8. Mail Deliverer: Go for a winery that’s consistent year after year in producing a wine that can be enjoyed in snow, rain, sleet or hail. Try an Australian shiraz or Argentine malbec.
9. Mechanic: Yes, there’s a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not give a wine made by Mario Andretti in California or Ferrari in Italy?
10. Online Date: So you’re on your second or third rendezvous with the person you met on eHarmony or Dating.com. If you’re not sure yet whether marriage is a possibility, try something middle-of-the-road, like merlot. Yes, it’s the soft jazz of wine, but until you know, play it safe.
And after all that shopping, don’t forget yourself: even Santa’s little helpers need more than milk and cookies. Try something with high-alcohol like Italian Amarone or Rhone syrah: these big reds easily drown out tone-deaf caroling and pair beautifully with tired feet.
More than 115,000 wine and food lovers subscribe to her free monthly e-newsletter. Nat was named the World’s Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. View her bio at NatalieMaclean.com.
So many wines, so little time!
This definitely rings true when visiting Austria!
While I definitely recommend creating your own Grüner wine tasting footpath on vacation (ask around for recommendations!), here are a few of my favorite wines to get you started:
Ewald Gruber, Röschitz
Grüner Veltliner Reserve
Full- bodied, delicious and quite elegant. There are notes of grapefruit, but nothing overpowering because the creamy, buttery oak provides a nice balance.
Weingut Pleil, Wolkersdorf
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Classic
Fruit bomb aroma with anise hints. This pleasantly tart mouth puckering wine feels well-balanced and has a nice lingering acidity.
Weingut R&A Pfaffl, Stetten
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Zeiseneck
Tropical aromas and taste. The acidity, while somewhat apparent, is amazingly discreet which is what makes this such an interesting wine.
Weingut Ebner- Ebenauer, Poysdorf
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Hermannschachern
Lemony, acidic tartball that lingers on the palate. Balanced, fun, and fresh it doesn’t overwhelm making this a great overall wine.
Weingut Gschweicher, Röschitz
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Reserve
A fruity wine- honeysuckle and tropical notes. Very smooth with a hint of wood because, after all, it is a Reserve.
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben
At first, it’s sweeter and then smooth as silk on the palate. Aromas are fruity and florally. Finishes dry.
Weingut Herbert Zillinger, Ebenthal
2008 Grüner Veltliner, Radikal
A bit sweeter than the average Grüner and not overly acidic. Yellower in color with an almond finish. Drinking with peppery Asian food makes the wine taste sweeter and helps to calm the spiciness of food.
Weingut Setzer, Hohenwarth
2008 Grüner Veltliner, “8000”
Peppery and fabulous, the wine pleasantly lingers in your mouth long after you’ve swallowed. Sip or pair with spicy Asian food for a double the peppery trouble… yummy!
For more information about Grüner Veltliner and Austrian wines, check out our posts Part 1 – Austria’s Flagship Wine: Grüner Veltliner and Part 2 – Destination Austria: Weinviertel Wine Region.
What’s your favorite Grüner Veltliner?
Disclosure: TravelPlusWine visited Weinviertel DAC on a sponsored media trip as part of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna, Austria
As Austria’s largest wine-growing area, Weinviertel stretches from the Danube River in the south to the Czech border in the north and Slovakia to the east.
Out of 15,000 hectacres planted with grape vines, more than half contain Grüner Veltliner, the true star of this DAC.
Why was the Weinviertel DAC formed?
Originally known for its cheap table wines, the Weinviertel DAC was established in 2001 and has worked hard to establish a distinctive profile for this viticulture area. The region is now strictly controlled and wines have to be approved by the Regional Wine Board before they can be labeled Weinviertel DAC.
The Tasting Profile
Hard work has paid off because today, people now know what to expect when they open a wine labeled Weinviertel DAC or Weinviertel DAC Reserve.
You can expect a quality wine made from Grüner Veltliner.
A Classic Grüner Veltliner from Weinviertel will be:
- light yellow to greenish-yellow in color
- Maximum residual sugar of 6g/l
- Minimum of 12% alcohol
- No notes of wood or Botrytis
- Fine peppery, spicy-fruity taste
The Reserve will have the same criteria as the Classic, but also:
- Precious and exquisite, with a tight structure and a long finish
- Robust stylishness
- Minimum alcohol 13%
- Maximum residual sugar of 9g/l
- Delicate note of wood or Botrytis is allowed
Conveniently located just outside Vienna, the picturesque Weinviertel won’t disappoint wine lovers.
As a wine tourism destination, the region offers not only amazing peppery wines, but gorgeous towns set among vineyards just waiting to be discovered… by you!
Here are a few things to do in the town of Retz:
Underground wine cellars:
Founded in 1278, the Retzer Erlebnis Keller is a must- see tourist destination for wine lovers. Located beneath the beautiful town of Retz, guided tours are available to view a portion of the 20km network of wine cellars. The tour covers the history of this wine producing region and you just might find yourself in a wine tasting room at the end of your visit!
For a hearty snack, fine wines, great views, and a photo opportunity with the only Dutch windmill of its kind in Austria, be sure and stop by Windmühlheurige.
The owners also have a winery that follows organic guidelines and produces Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zweigelt, Blue Portuguese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
The Wines of Weinviertel
So many wines, so little time!
This definitely rings true when visiting Austria! While I definitely recommend creating your own Grüner wine tasting footpath on vacation (ask around for recommendations!), here are a few of my favorite wines to get you started… click here for a list!
Stay tuned… there’s more to come in this series:
Part 3: The Danube Region
Photos courtesy of Weinviertel DAC. Disclosure: TravelPlusWine visited Weinviertel DAC on a sponsored media trip as part of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna, Austria.
The key to a successful wine tasting adventure is to never go hungry while staying hydrated.
Here are a few TravelPlusWine recommendations:
1. Always eat a good meal before wine tasting
Whether you’re wine tasting in the morning or afternoon, it’s important to take the time to eat a healthy and filling lunch.
Wherever you decide to eat, in a restaurant or packing your own picnic, giving wine a rest for an hour or two while feeding your stomach can help make your wine tasting experience a pleasure.
So, keep your wine loot closed if your having a picnic or decline the wine menu in a restaurant!
2. Stay hydrated
Your body will thank you for drinking enough water while wine tasting. My personal (albeit, very unscientific) approach is to drink equal amounts of wine and water. Keep a cooler with bottles of water in the car or limo and after each winery, drink a bottle.
3. Snack Ideas
I’d also recommend packing a bag or cooler with snacks to munch on between wineries. Here are a few of my favorite protein- packed wine tasting snacks:
Rich in protein and calcium (and delicious), it has become a must-have in my wine tasting cooler. Chobani Greek Yogurt is thick, creamy, fruity and does a great job coating your stomach if it isn’t meal time.
It’s easy to carry, but don’t forget your spoon!
You can also give it to your kids to keep their mouths and stomachs occupied while you’re wine tasting! I’m just sayin’…
This is another source of protein that won’t take up too much room in the cooler. Dip a few veggies or crackers into the container in between wineries.
Don’t be a wine tasting nut with an empty stomach… I go nuts when I’m hungry. I suggest keeping a bag of nuts in your purse, pocket, or car to munch on whenever you feel the need.
Do you have any wine tasting snack tips? What’s your favorite thing to eat?
(Chobani Greek Yogurt was sent as a sample, although the opinions expressed here are uniquely our own)
Looking for excellent, exotic wines from around the world but aren’t able to just jet across the world to taste them for yourself? Welcome to the club!
Actually, it’s more like welcome to the International Wine of the Month Club. Their highly selective tasting panel spits so you can enjoy only the best wines in the comfort of your own home!
There are 3 membership types available ranging from 2 months, 12 months, or open- ended. Prices range from $29.95 – $65.95 per month depending on the wine you wish to receive. Each package gives you the choice of red wine, white wine, or both.
TravelPlusWine was recently sent a sample membership for review and we were very impressed with both the quality of wine and educational aspect of the International Wine of the Month Club. Each wine bottle is packaged with a Cellar Notes newsletter containing tasting notes, information about the grape variety, food accompaniments, and a recipe.
We tasted a 2007 Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon (California) as well as a 2009 Domaine Talmard Mâcon Chardonnay (France). Both wines have the quality and elements in place to sip alone or enjoy with food.
Not sure what food to serve with these wines? Consult your Cellar Notes, it’ll all there!
Don’t forget the holidays are fast approaching. If you’re not sure what to get a wine- loving friend or family member, you won’t disappoint with these wines!
The International Wine of the Month Club offers great value with a wine education making this a definite TravelPlusWine recommendation!