Sunday, December 10, 2006

Any Port In The (Winter) Storm

I usually find the easiest people to buy birthday and Christmas presents for are people with hobbies and passions. I have a brother who is into model trains and fishing --thinking of a present for him is no sweat.

So, since I enjoy fine wines so much, you'd think I would be overwhelmed with gifts of wine. But, sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, my wife has bought me a number of terrific wine accessories over the years, but I get the feeling that friends and family are afraid to buy me actual bottles of I might go into rant or otherwise belittle their purchases.

I do occasionally get wine gifts from guests who come to dinner, and I don't think I've ever been disappointed by such a gift. Whether it's a really "special" wine to have with weekend dinners or a humble mid-week quaffer, I enjoy trying all kinds of things. But good bottles are rare under the Christmas tree. I'm still surprised by this. If anyone simply has no faith in their ability to pick out wines all you have to do is ask the proprietor for a recommendation. I do it all the time, though I have a pretty good idea of what I like.

But, there is a way to make this really easy. While I'm receptive to all kinds of wines as gifts, you absolutely can't go wrong this time of year getting port, particularly if you get a vintage port (expensive) or a late-bottled vintage port (reasonable). This is the time of year many of us dream of port -- nothing makes a body cozier during a winter storm than a glass of port (sorry, but hot chocolate or tea must take a back seat).

While picking out a really good cabernet or Bordeaux is aided by a little knowledge of vintages and reliable producers, port leaves less to chance. Vintage port is only made in exceptional years. And, virtually all vintage port producers have something good to offer. Same is largely true of late-bottled vintage ports, which are ready to enjoy when you buy them.

So, you see, buying a wine geek a present need not be difficult nor intimidating. As far as I'm concerned, any port in the (winter) storm will do quite nicely. If you want to know where to send it, just leave a comment, and I'll get that address to you!


Blogger Deb said...

Hope you have some delivered to your door soon! I'm not a fan of anything sweet, so I have always avoided the Ports. Greta gift idea I didn't think of though!

3:00 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Deb, thanks for the kind wishes. Got to ask , though. Have you ever had a well-aged vintage port? Inexpensive ports tend to emphasize the sweet. But vintage port over time becomes a whole different animal, rich complexity with coffee and chocolate notes. Some particular labels are known to be drier than others, like Dow and Taylor. Hope you get to try one of these someday, if you haven't already.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I'd love to try a good one but half the battle is finding it! ;)
Any specific vintage?

9:04 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Well, they only make vintage port in the best years, unlike the cheap stuff which is made all the time. So any vintage port you find from the reliable producers will be damn good; recent vintage ports are 2003, 2000, 1997, 1994. Trouble is, you don't want to drink vintage port younger than, say 15 years old. It needs that time to smooth out. So, you really need to link up with someone who already has a stash, or your going to pay an awful lot for an old one! It's worth the trouble, though.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous el jefe said...

Deb - consider also the "late bottle vintage" style of port. These are usually not terribly sweet, and what sweetness they have is offset by the tannins and oak. Nothing like a good "LBV"! And they are not terribly expensive. have fun!

2:09 AM  

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