Our editors share the wines, spirits, and barware that they’ll be giving loved ones this holiday season
Wine & Sake
The Comfort Food of Wines
“Some people have comfort foods; I’ve got comfort wineries, and Sonoma’s Hirsch Vineyards falls into that category. The 2020 Hirsch Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir ($45) channels summer strawberries and cherries long after the farmers market has bid them goodbye.” — Oset Babür-Winter, Senior Drinks Editor, Digital
Rosé That Isn’t Just For Summer
“Of all the wine I’ve had this year, the Forlorn Hope Queen of Sierra Rosé ($20) left the most lasting impression. It’s unfiltered, medium-bodied, and a bit darker than most rosés. My friends, who couldn’t care less about what they’re drinking, made a point of saying how much they were enjoying it.” — Merlyn Miller, Social Media Editor
Most Delightful Drink
“I was first introduced to the adorable Hakutsuru Sake Chika Sake Cups ($5) during a stroll through the wine section at Costco. They caught my eye and, to my delight, tasted delicious, with light hints of sweetness from flavors of pear and star anise. Any occasion would be made better by including this cheery little drink.” — Alexandra Domrongchai, Editorial Fellow
Super Single Serving
“Chances are I end up with a half-full bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge around the holidays—I almost always fail to finish the bottle before the wine goes flat. The Une Femme Piquette ($66 for eight 250-ml. cans), a bright, lower-ABV sparkling wine from a women-owned and -run wine brand, comes in eight-packs of cans. Problem solved!” — Lucy Simon, Editorial Assistant
Our Wine Editor’s Top 2022 Picks
My best wines of 2022? That’s a funny question, really, because wine is so contextual. That oh-so-impressive grand cru Burgundy I sampled at a crowded trade tasting may have been excellent, but the Loire sparkler I drank under the stars with friends was definitely more enjoyable, not to mention far more memorable. So for this list, I’ve stuck to wines that spoke to me somehow; ones that actually exist on store shelves; current vintages, not rare older ones; and a lot of values as well. I may have been at this wine-writing game a long time, but a great bargain still thrills me to this day. —Ray Isle
If It’s Your Last $20…
2018 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Nanfre Valpolicella Superiore ($16)
When I sat in on a tasting to help build the by-the-glass list at NYC’s new Saraghina Caffè, I was struck — not for the first time — by what an absurd deal this juicy, dark-fruited red from one of Italy’s top Amarone producers is.
2021 Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo ($25)
This scarlet-hued wine from Italy’s Abruzzo region makes most rosés seem anemic. I had it with winemaker Cristiana Tiberio during the course of a fascinating interview—not only is the wine great, but the woman who makes it is brilliant, too.
So Long, Old Friend
Thackrey & Co. Pleiades XXVIII ($25)
Sean Thackrey, one of California’s most idiosyncratic, brilliant winemakers, passed away this year at age 79. His last Pleiades red blend, from old vines throughout parts of Northern California, is like he was: unclassifiable and wonderful.
Burgundy without Bankruptcy
2020 Domaine du Cellier aux Moines Montagny Les Combes Premier Cru ($60)
OK, no, it’s not inexpensive. But this premier cru white is a bargain for what it offers. I had it on a research trip in July and was captivated by its lovely, floral, complex aromas and flavors.
Riesling Magic Tricks
2021 Nik Weis Estate Bottled from Old Vines Riesling ($19)
This Riesling is only slightly sweet, but its electric citrus flavors fool your palate into thinking it isn’t. As Nik Weis says, “The salinity of the slate soil works like the way salt in a margarita plays against the Cointreau’s sweetness.”
2020 La Grange Tiphaine Nouveau Nez ($25)
On a trip to France’s Loire Valley this summer, I drank more than one glass—hey, it was hot!—of this lively pét-nat from La Grange Tiphaine’s Damien and Coralie Delecheneau. Guess what? The wine’s just as great when it’s cold outside, too.
Unusual & Unmissable
Kopke 10 Years Old White Port ($40 for 375 ml.) Yes, white port! I tasted this gorgeous dessert wine in our office and then took it home and drank it over several happy evenings. It’s nutty and complex, with lingering dried citrus flavors. And half-bottles make stellar stocking stuffers.
F&W Classic in Aspen in a Bottle
2018 Cornell Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($185)
This powerful, elegant red wowed the audience at the “Judgment of Aspen” Cabernet tasting I did at this year’s Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. It was the favorite of the crowd and also the winemakers on my panel.
Lottery Winners, See Below!
Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie, Cellared in 2017 ($700)
I had the great fortune to taste this extraordinary Champagne with chef du cave Cyril Brun before its release this fall. Charles Heidsieck earned the moniker “Champagne Charlie” in the 1850s, when he set out to sell his wine across the U.S. The house created a now-legendary prestige cuvée in 1979 to honor him, and now it exists again. A blend of components using reserve wines back to 1998, it’s fresh and opulent all at once, wildly complex, and utterly delicious. Yes, it costs a fortune. But what else is Powerball for?