Wine Gift- Giving

In only a few days, the gift exchange will begin. Everyone loves wine but many have asked me- what bottle of wine makes a good present? How does one beat the monotony of giving yet another bottle of red wine?

Here are some tips to get creative with your wine-giving this year:

Birth Year Wine:
This is an appropriate option if the receiver is forthcoming about their (actual) year of birth and it was also a great vintage. Fear not, even if their birth year was not a good vintage in Bordeaux it probably was somewhere, the world is a very big place!
As older wine can become a bit expensive I recommend looking for great regions that fly under the radar. For example, the Loire Valley in France is known for exceptional wines with a relatively small price tag.
If you are looking for something powerful with pepper and spice, look to Chinon or Bourgueil, wines based on Cabernet Franc with long aging potential. For the white-drinkers, a bottle from Savennières is an experience. Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, the refreshing acidity preserves the wine for decades (some might argue centuries).
Keep in mind, as wine ages the first thing to go is the fruit. Earthy and Mineral notes become more pronounced over time. So this gift option is for the relatively serious wine-drinker, perhaps collector who enjoys more mature wines versus fruit-forward youthful ones.

Heritage Wine:
Everyone has roots. In America we are all mutts- a mix of different cultures and ethnicities. Find out more about the person you are shopping for. What place do they identify with?
For example, my Grandmother’s family is from Piemonte which is located in Northwestern Italy. There are many celebrated wines from this region from Barolo to Barbaresco to Barbera. You might not need to even delve this deep. Instead of specific regions you can focus on countries- Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. or even continents- South America, Africa, etc.
If the person is from France, get them a luxurious Burgundy or Languedoc-sipper. If they are from Australia, what about an explosion of fruit like a Shiraz from Barossa Valley or a more delicate Riesling from Eden Valley? If they are from Chile snag them a zippy Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley or a supple Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua Valley.
Perhaps you wanted to stary more local. Remember every state in America makes wine! Outside of California, Oregon, Washington, New York and Virginia few states are known for winemaking but that doesn’t mean wine isn’t made elsewhere. Perhaps a bottle from Arizona might not hold up quite the same as a bottle from California but it’s still a fun gift. Besides, how often do you get to taste a wine from, say, Kansas? It’s the thought that counts.

If all else, fails, there is always Champagne. Always beloved and a wonderful gift to receive, sparkling wine is a necessary treat. But which one should you choose?
Great options can be found in the South of France. The Languedoc is known as the birthplace of sparkling wine and to this day Limoux is still producing delicious sparklers that are easy-drinking. A lot of these wines are made in the same method as Champagne and also based on Chardonnay while some blend in Mauzac and Chenin Blanc too.
Italy makes more than just Prosecco- try wines from Franciacorta. The best from this region even rival Champagne, producing elegant wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero with sometimes Pinot Bianco blended in.
A good bottle of Champagne is like nothing else. While prices can skyrocket, Grower-Champagnes offer excellent quality with modest pricing. These wines are made by the same estate that owns the vineyards. For example, Veuve Clicquot buys their grapes from all over the Champange region while Marc Hebrart makes wine from their own vineyards, a more “artisinale approach.” Look for RM (meaning Récoltant-Manipulant) in small print on the front label.

For recommendations and questions please email me at
Here is a little something you should know about Victoria 
Victoria James started working in restaurants when she was thirteen and fell in love with the industry.  When bartending during
college she decided to take her first wine course. The hook was
instant and she became a cellar rat in downtown manhattan at Harry’s
Cafe and Steak. In 2011 she worked harvest for Michael Terien in
 Sonoma and then continued her studies with the American Sommelier
Association in Viticulture and Vinification as well as blind tasting.
 She became certified as a Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012.
Shortly after she accepted a Sommelier position in midtown Manhattan. Becoming one of the
youngest Sommeliers in fine dining at just 21 years of age.

In competitions, she has won the title of Best Sommelier of the
Languedoc Roussillon with the ASA as well as New York’s Guild of Sommeliers
Chilean Wine Challenge Winner.  Currently she is an instructor with
the American Sommelier Association, wine writer, consultant and avid travelling-enthusiast.