From left: Bisson Glera, Franck Millet Pouilly-Fume, Ridge Grenache Blanc, Vietti Barbera D’Asti Tre Vigne, Rootdown Cole Ranch Trousseau.
Writer: Karla Walsh
Whether you’re in need of a host gift, are seeking something for your clutter-averse pal or want to win over your boss, wine can be a winner this holiday season. (P.S.: For those who don’t imbibe, check out our guide to 11 local shops to stock up on food gifts and experiences.)
Rather than reaching for that bottle that’s popular—but displayed on end caps at every supermarket in town—take a walk on the wild side, suggests Sam Tuttle, wine director at RoCA. Clocking in at less than $35 per bottle, and all available locally, these red, white and sparkling wines are sure to impress, Tuttle promises.
- Bisson Glera: “There’s no need to spend Champagne prices to get a fun, energetic sparkling wine,” Tuttle says. Made with the primary grape used for Prosecco, glera, this budget-friendly bubbly plays nicely with everything from deviled eggs to ham. ($23, Gateway Market)
- Franck Millet Pouilly-Fume: Surprise the Sauvignon Blanc-lover in your life with this value-priced wine from the Loire Valley in France. It delivers “smoky minerality,” Tuttle says. ($19, Ingersoll Wine and Spirits)
- Ridge Grenache Blanc: White wine season doesn’t end on Labor Day. “Rich, luxurious whites are in season,” Tuttle says, and this full-bodied blend of aromatic white grapes from Paso Robles will steal the show at any meal—or on its own by the glass. ($35, the Cheese Shop)
- Vietti Barbera D’Asti Tre Vigne: Owned by the Krause Family–yes, the same crew who helms Kum & Go–the makers at this Italian winery have “mastered this grape,” Tuttle says, which is ideal to welcome non-red drinkers over to the darker side. “This crazy-complex red offers ample dark fruit flavor, without the huge tannins.” ($25, Ingersoll Wine and Spirits)
- Rootdown Cole Ranch Trousseau: Adventurous drinkers will love this rare, dark fruity wine. The rarity of it does not match up with the price and will be a guaranteed topic of discussion on most fun wines tried this year. ($35, the Cheese Shop)
Tuttle also has a few questions to ask yourself before you find the perfect fit for your recipient. “When gifting wine, I consider several things,” Tuttle says:
Is the recipient adventurous? “Consider who you are buying for,” he explains. “My Dad loves Napa cabernet sauvignon, but might not get a funky Southern Italian semi-sparkling white.” Feel free to get wild if you know that they’re up for exploring; otherwise, stay within the same wine wheelhouse.
Is it in my price range? Setting a budget can not only help narrow the selections, but also help you get in and out of the wine shop quicker.
Is this funky label just covering up some subpar wine? “Marketing, graphic design and labels are really expensive,” Tuttle explains. Sometimes simple is best. “Be wary of flashy labels. A lot of times, a large part of what you pay goes to getting you to buy the bottle as opposed to making its contents stunning.”