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Buying The Perfect Bottle of Wine This Christmas

Buying The Perfect Bottle of Wine This Christmas

A bottle of wine makes a great Christmas gift for anyone over the age of 18. However, as with most things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about choosing which wine to give.

The wrong way doesn’t require a lot of thought. It’s what Alpha Domus wine expert Paul Ham calls the ‘I ran into the supermarket, grabbed the first bottle I saw and stuck a bow on it’ approach.

“The right way takes a bit more time and consideration,” says Paul. “But when you put some thought into who you’re buying the wine for and what they might like, then your gift will be much more appreciated.”

Paul says the secret to buying the perfect gift bottle is to think about the things the recipient enjoys doing.

“I try to picture my friends drinking the wine I give them - whether it’s having lunch in a park, watching the rugby or joining friends for a sit down dinner - it makes it easier to choose what to buy.”

If you can imagine your recipient drinking wine with a hearty casserole after a long walk in the country side with their golden retrievers, then Paul says they’ll appreciate a big, red Bordeaux varietal with strong flavours and good structure, like a Cabernet blend.

“On the other hand, if they’re more likely to eat salads and lighter food, then they’ll probably prefer a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay.”

Because there is such a wide variety of wines available in New Zealand, Paul says you can even find a bottle to suit devout beer drinkers - and it makes a nice change from beer-branded socks and towels.

“A beer drinker who prefers a Pilsner would probably appreciate a more sophisticated varietal such as an aged Semillion,” says Paul. “Where as your Tui drinker probably has a sweeter palate and would be more likely to enjoy something simple and fruity, like the Alpha Domus Pilot range Merlot.”

Christmas is a great time to try new things, so instead of sneaking a look in your friend’s wine rack, Paul recommends introducing them to something they may not buy for themselves. He says sticky wines make fantastic gifts for anyone with a sweet tooth.

“A rich, honeyed wine, like the AD Noble 2005, is the perfect gift for a dessert lover. It works really well with chocolate and it’s surprisingly good with cheeseboards too.”

If you’re having Christmas dinner at someone else’s house this year and you’d like to take a bottle for the host, then consider matching the wine to the meal.

“If your host is serving more traditional fare I’d recommend staying away from anything too heavy. Choose a Chardonnay if you’re having turkey or a light Pinot Noir to have with ham.”

Barbecues, on the other hand, work well with bigger wines. If steak is on the menu, Paul recommends trying a red wine with lots of tannins, such as the Alpha Domus The Navigator, a robust complex wine with game, vanilla and leather characters. If you’re having seafood, try a full-bodied white wine.

“Kiwi Christmas barbecues often feature fresh seafood, either as entrees or as main courses, and these go really well with Viogniers which have the sweet, distinctive aroma of a Gewürztraminer, but the dryness of a typical Chardonnay.”

Paul says sweet dessert wines really add the finishing touches to a great Christmas meal.

“Our Leonarda Late Harvest Semillion has lots of luscious marmalade, tropical fruit and honey flavours which go perfectly with pavlova.”

If you’re not sure what you’ll be eating on Christmas day or who you’re buying for, Paul says your best bet is to grab a bottle of bubbles.

“As long as it’s cold, a bottle of bubbles will go with everything, from light starters to heavy desserts. And even people who don’t normally drink wine will raise a glass of bubbles for a Christmas toast.”


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