This year, for my article before Christmas, I thought I would ring the changes: instead of giving advice on what to drink, I thought it might be helpful to give advice on what to give – a significant proportion of the sales in my shop are for presents.
So here are some ideas –
MAGNUMS – they look both festive and generous, which they are! And you don’t have to empty your bank account to buy a magnum – you can buy a delicious bottle of domaine-bottled Côtes du Rhône for a mere £23.50. Or you can range up the price scale and get a fine red burgundy for £47.50 or a smart Rhône, Vacqueyras, for £45, both from the top 2015 vintage. Or you can splash out on even bigger bottles – three litres (double magnum) or a Jeroboam (five litres)!
CHAMPAGNE – always makes a good present – even better is vintage champagne, such as Guy de Forez 2012 (great champagne vintage) for only £32.50. Or, if you feel like splashing out, the 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal 2008, which the critics are saying is the greatest Cristal ever made, at £185. Or you can combine both this heading and the previous one and get magnums of champagne.
MIXED CASES – you can opt for a ready-made mixed case from the big boys – Tesco, Waitrose, etc – who offer ranges of one-size-fits-all selections. Or you can go to a smaller merchant such as Fingal-Rock, who will put together custom-built cases to take account of your preferences and give you truly personal service.
PORT – bottles fine Late Bottled Vintage Port from Ramos Pinto in individual wooden boxes. Or mature, serious vintage port, from terrific years such as 1983 or 1997.
SMART CLARET and BURGUNDY – bottles with some age so that you can give them away confident in the knowledge that they are ready to drink immediately, and don’t have to be put away and stored for years.
MADEIRA – an underrated drink – great to give away because the recipient doesn’t have to drink up the whole bottle once it has been opened – Madeira is completely stable, and you can put the cork back in the bottle and keep it in the fridge for literally months, and it will retain its character and quality.
64 Monnow Street