Wines for last-minute gifts and well-earned rewards

December 24, 2018

Are you looking to shop locally? Trying to find a gift for that tough-to-satisfy curmudgeon wino pal? Please visit some of our local wineries. Nassau Valley Vineyards is Cape Gazette’s neighbor, just off Route 9 on Winery Way west of Lewes. It is Delaware’s first winery. The Raleys established the vineyard after a very long, hard battle with the vested interests in Dover and upstate. You may be unaware that NVV offers a year-round 10 percent discount to any veteran who shows an active military ID or membership card for AMVETS, American Legion or VFW. Peggy and Suzette have a terrific holiday discount going on, up to 20 percent. Check out their website,, or better yet, stop by for a visit. There is a ton of neat stuff to see. Don’t miss Deny Howeth’s photo exhibit of local scenes and portraits. Following are some other excellent Delaware wineries, etc., to visit: Harvest Ridge, Marydel; Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery, Felton; and Salted Vines Vineyard and Winery, Frankford. Each is a worthwhile stop. My pal Peggy reminded me to tout Brimming Horn Meadery on Route 9 just west of Hopkins Dairy Farm. Mead, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water, often with various spices or fruits added to the mash, was prominent before beer and whiskey. Its alcohol by volume (ABV) can range from 3.5 to 20 percent. It may be still, carbonated, or naturally sparkling, and from dry to very sweet. Beach Time Distilling, next to Old World Breads at Nassau, is also a good stop. They make great rum and gin. 

Those doing the “big fat goose” Alastair Sim thing may wish to jazz it up with an apple, onion and sage stuffing. If you do, go with a Gewurztraminer. Those who want Bob Cratchit’s “best goose ever” will choose an Alsatian white or strong beer such as a Belgian Chimay Blue (Grand Reserve). Chimay is a Trappist monastery that has produced its beer for sale since 1875. Chimay Blue or Grand Reserve is the brewery’s strongest beer at 9 percent ABV. Originally brewed as a Christmas beer, it was so popular the monks brought it out full time in 1954. While most beer should be quaffed young, Chimay Blue improves with considerable aging, which will cause the beer to evolve. A 16-year-old cellared beer was stunning. This was more typical of beer in the 1800s. If you’re driving, one pint is too much. By the way, I think George C. Scott’s Scrooge was the best ever. If you’re eating a local, wild-shot bird, sharpen your teeth and chew gingerly or get a friend to pass it through a metal detector. Domesticated goose prepared following directions is not greasy. Best size is 8-10 pounds. Be sure to brine first, then air dry overnight in the fridge. If you’re doing wild, don’t overcook. Sauce for goose: ½ cup ruby port, 1 tsp. dry mustard, pinch cayenne, reduce, add pepper and salt to taste. For gander, go to

The following can be found locally for last-minute gifts. Tommasi Amarone 2013, 90 points McD, can be found under $55. Strawberry-violet bouquet, herbs, orange peel and smoky flavors are supported by appropriate acid/tannin/fruit profile through a smooth finish. Drink now through 2023. Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 under $12, 89 points, shows gooseberry, lantana, grapefruit and herbal aromas, and ripe black currant, lemon and spice palate. Bright supporting acidity provides a clean finish. Babich consistently comes in at 88-90 with the exception of the 2010 and ‘15. I preferred it over the Oyster Bay 2017, 87 McD at similar price point: pale green with lime, grapefruit, apricot aromas, passionfruit palate, crisp short finish. Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens 2017 is pale yellow-green, bone dry, blend of 60 percent Grenache, 40 percent Clairette with ripe pear, apple and floral bouquet. The round palate follows the nose, closes creamy with limestone mineral notes. Go upscale for their Ermitage Blanc Le Reverdy. Few folks in the U.S. recognize the long-term storage these wines will take, similar to White Burgundy in terms of improvement. If you bought the 2012, ready now-2023, or the ‘13, ready 2020-28, on my previous recommendation, you will be happy to learn those $50 bottles are now worth $159 for the ‘12 and $89 for the ‘13. That is my holiday gift to the loyal readers. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter