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Spread the holiday cheer

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Friday night, I attended an evening tasting at Bishop’s Cellar in downtown Halifax. Bishop’s Cellar is a specialty wine store and has lots of knowledgeable staff to help you pick a great bottle. They have tastings at the store every other week, on Friday nights. Tickets can be bought online.

The theme of the tasting was “Staff Wish List,” and they were pouring 10 favourite wines. The staff explain their picks, and you get to nibble on great local snacks. Most wines were quite pricey, but gifts during the holidays often have bigger price tags. If there’s a wine you’ve wanted to try, add it to your wish list and you might get to savour something that isn’t usually in your budget.

If there’s a wine lover on your holiday shopping list, this is a great time to indulge their love of the vine.

Top 10 gifts for wine lovers

-Their favourite bottle, duh.

Sparkling wine. They can use it on New Year’s Eve, or for a special occasion where you’ll surely be thought of fondly.

-Wine shop gift card. If you’re unsure, just let them pick their own.

-Luxury plastic shatterproof wine glasses for camping, the beach or that friend who always breaks glasses

-A quality wine tasting notebook to remember your favourites

-A good simple wine aerator, because who has time to decant?

-A fun wine bottle stopper

Wine savers or bar tools. Closing bottles until they’re tight makes them stay fresh longer. Using fancy tools is cool.

-Subscription to a good wine magazine.

-Wine Aroma Kit. This would be for the fanatic who wants to get better at their aroma and flavour identifying skills. :

Bonus: A ticket to a winter tasting at Bishop’s Cellar.

And if you’re looking for some tasty wines to buy for parties, gift swaps, presents or a date with your couch, check out these great buys:

William Cole 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Casablanca Valley, Chile $14.00

A clear, crisp Sauvignon Blanc with notes of steamed asparagus, garden peas, lime and strawberry on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity and flavours of grapefruit, rhubarb and peas. Great value and great taste from this New World wine.

Eat: Beet and goat cheese salad with herb chicken

Listen to: “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie, Oh! You Pretty Things

My score: 84

Wolf Blass ‘Eaglehawk’ 2011 Merlot

Australia $13.99

Nice aroma of juicy cherry, raspberry jam, plum and mint on the nose. Medium-bodied with medium to low round tannin structure. Flavours of plum, unripe raspberry, and herb. Good bang for your buck.

Eat: Mixed nuts or almonds, with a fennel Gouda

Listen to: Blue Train by John Coltrane

My score: 80

Robert-Denogent Pouilly-Fuissé 2009 Chardonnay

Burgundy, France $50.00 (available at Bishop’s Cellar – Katheryn Harding’s Staff Pick)

Beautifully complex with a marriage of honey, stone fruit and orange blossom on the nose. Flavours include apple, almond and citrus. Up to 18 months in oak gives the wine a luscious, creamy mouth feel. Lots of acidity and hints of mineral.

Eat: Fried chicken and roasted potatoes with aioli dip.

Listen to: Revolver by The Beatles

My score: 92

Heras Cordon Reserva 2005 Rioja

Rioja, Spain $60.00 (available at Bishop’s Cellar – Nick’s Staff Pick)

Aromas of plum, stomped out campfire, cured meat and black olives. Smooth mouth feel with medium body and blueberry, raspberry and woody flavours.

Eat: A charcuterie board with olive tapenade, smoky cheese and pita.

Listen to: “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars

My score: 91


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