Best Wines and Spirits for Gifts and Holiday Parties

By Emily Frost on December 21, 2012 10:27am 

NEW YORK CITY — With Christmas and New Year's Eve days away — the industry's busiest time of year — the city's wine stores are packed with last-minute shoppers.

Don't despair!

From high-end bottles to those $10 and under, DNAinfo.com New York put together a guide with local wine merchants' favorite selections. The list includes recommended wines to bring as instant party hits, and those to stockpile at home for your holiday celebrations. 

Cheers!

RED WINES IN THE $50 RANGE

Domaine La Milliere, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2009, $47.99

This bottle is great as a gift and also a great choice for a dinner or a party, said Paul Brestler from 67 Wine at Columbus Avenue at 68th Street. 

"This will be good for 20 years, but you can definitely drink it now. There's not a rush," said Brestler. "It drinks beautifully. It's medium to full bodied. It has enough tannins to help it age, but that's not the obvious factor."

Oakville, Cabernet, 2009, $49.99

"It's a Cabernet that's not overly modern. It's not overly ripe. It's a mouthful of Bing cherry," said Matthew LaSorsa, the owner of Heights Chateau at Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Marion, Teroldego, 2006, $40.00 + $10.00 box (optional) 

Ryan Ibsen, the wine director at Pasanella and Son, at 115 South St., thinks this red wine is a great choice for parties or to give as a present. 

"It's really full and inky and dark. It's great for the holiday season, but it's not overbearing."

Plus, he said, "it looks really chic in one of our signature wooden boxes."

RED WINES IN THE $20 RANGE

Langhe, Nebbiolo, 2010, $21.99

Brestler said this wine could go for $150, but is a fraction of the price because it's not from the pricey Barolo region of Italy. 

"It's a wonderful wine," Brestler said. "It's very very food friendly." Brestler recommends pairing it with braised meat or with any red sauce. 

"This one is meant to be drunk young, but it has ageing potential," he said. "It's medium bodied and has beautiful aromas. It's known for violets." 

Chakana, Argentina, Malbec, 2011, $29.99

Matthew LaSorsa, the owner of Heights Chateau, calls this wine a great steal. 

"It's worth $50 in terms of character, depth, body and breed," he said. 

Rota, Lambrusco, $14.99

Marco Pasanella said Lambruscos used to have a bad reputation, but that they're making a comeback. 

"It's dry and perfect for things like prosciutto or parmesan cheese," he said.
 

WHITE WINES IN THE $20 RANGE

Sequoia Grove, Carneros Chardonnay, 2009, $19.99
Carpe Diem, Chardonnay, 2008, $18.99

Brestler said these two wines are not big oaky Chardonnays and are easy to drink. 

"They are very food-friendly," Brestler said. "The Carpe Diem is slightly spicier."

Castello di Spessa, Friulano, $22.99, 2011

Matthew LaSorsa describes this wine as "fresh and unobtrusive." He adds that it has "notes of soft apricot and peach with a little minerality and a delicious mouth feel."

Pasanella and Figlio, Vermentino, $10.99

Marco Pasanella recommends his house white as a great organic purchase. The wine is from south-west Tuscany, an area called Maremma. 

"The Vermentino is a classic summer grape that you would have with seafood at the beach. It's versatile and crisp. It's not sweet at all," Pasanella said. "People who love Pinot Grigio love this." 

WHITE WINES IN THE $50 RANGE

Meursault, Les Genevrieres, 2007, $49.99

This white burgundy is great with food, said Brestler. "This is a little drier, crisper. The oak is integrated differently so that there's more richness."

He added that it's drinking "beautifully" now, but that it has many more years to age well.

"It's a treat. Most people don't go out and buy it for themselves," Brestler said.

Lucien Crochet, La Croix du Roy Sancerre, 2010, $29.99

"To me, it's pretty fantastic," said LaSorsa, adding that the wine has exceptional value, character and body. 

CHAMPAGNE and SPARKLING WINE

Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut Reserve Champagne, $26.99

"If someone is looking to get a real champagne from the Champagne district that's not too dry and not sweet, Nicolas Feuillatte is a solid item," Brestler said.

José Dhondt, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, $49.99

"It's very bright and wonderfully fresh and has a load of great fruit weight to it," LaSorsa said.

Pasanella and Son, Prosecco, $14.99

Prosecco is popular with party-goers who want a crisp sparkling wine without the price tag of Champagne.  Ibsen recommends the store's house prosecco for a great party wine.  

"It is dry and fantastic — very festive!"
 

SPIRITS

"American whiskey is hot," according to Brestler. "This category has exploded over the past year, especially bourbon and rye." 

Michters Bourbon, Kentucky, $39.99 for 750 ML

Michters is Breslter's pick: "It's a high rye bourbon. [Rye adds a lot of flavor.] It's sour and spicy." 

King's County Distillery, Bourbon or Moonshine, $29.99

This little flask, available at Pasanella and Son, is wrapped in tissue paper and then wax sealed in a jute sack. 

"It's so damn cute," said Marco Pasanella. "Who doesn't need a hip flask?"

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