Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gifts for the the wine lover

Photo: Wine Grapes is a massively thorough reference

On my weekly CKNW spot on December 14, I recommended some last minute gift ideas for wine lovers.

For those who were not listening, or did not have a chance to make notes, here are the recommendations.

 *Taste BC 2013 takes place this year at 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm. January 15 at the Pan Pacific Hotel. The tickets are $50 each and are sold through the Liberty wine stores. This is the first major tasting of the year, with about 50 BC wineries in the room; and there is also food. It is a very nice evening.

*Tasting room tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival the week of February 28. They are on sale for $85, $10 off the price in the new years. There are other attractive packages also on sale on the Festival’s website.

 * Sign up the gift recipient to a membership in his or her favourite winery’s wine club. A growing number of Okanagan wineries have launched clubs. Usually, the membership is free with a commitment to buy some wine on a regular basis. Red Rooster Winery, for example, will charge $75 every second month and send you three bottles of wine. Laughing Stock Vineyards has a wine club with a variety of options for six different wines three times a year to a case of each of your favourites.

As for books, these are available on line at Indigo or Amazon and often in book stores as well:

  • Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Grape Varieties by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz. This is a massive volume (1,242 pages) selling for around $125 (the list price is  $175). This is the book for the very knowledgeable wine lover or for those in the business. I have whiled away hours reading about grape varieties … their history, their alternate names, where they grow. You can enjoy wine without this book, of course, but it is the best source on grapes I have ever read.
  • Had a Glass 2013: Top 100 Wines under $20 by James Nevison ($15). This is the book if you need your hand held in the wine store. This is a familiar source that James updates regularly.
  • Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quests for the World’s Best Bargain Wines by Natalie Maclean ($15). The elegant Ottawa wine writer does not always recommend cheap wines but she does recommend value for money wines.
  • John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide (fourth edition) by John Schreiner ($20). Published in May, this is my most up to date book on Okanagan wineries. For those of you living in North Vancouver, Village VQA Wines in Edgemont Village should have signed copies.
  • The New York Times Book of Wine by Howard G. Goldberg and Eric Asimov ($20). A collection of wine columns from the past 30 years.
  • Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2013 by Hugh Johnson ($14). Johnson has been doing this succinct annual reference volume for at least 30 years. Most of the wines you will buy are listed here by winery. The amount of information is astounding for such a compact volume.

And these two excellent books have been around for several years but still are among the most interesting general wine interest reads:

  • The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of The World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace ($14 in paperback). This is about one of the great wine frauds in which an alleged German collector sold supposedly rare wines to extremely wealthy Americans via Christie’s auction house. Fascinating and a page turner.  One of the people taken in was a big financial supporter of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. The man can’t buy any luck, it seems.
  • Wine and War: The French, The Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure by Donald Kladstrup ($13 in paper). How many clever French wineries hid their best wines from the occupying Nazi armies, not always successfully.


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