Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheese Gifts

While there's no easy template to lay over all of your intended gift recipients, there are a few rules of thumb for giving cheese as a gift.  Like very special wines, specialty cheeses should be given sparingly and with the right appreciative person in mind.  Just as the Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the store would be a wonderful wine gift for the right person, likewise, the Speziato al Tartuffo from Italy, being a masterful cheese creation, needs a very special person to appreciate it.

As with our preceding post on wine gifting, knowing your recipient is paramount.  Is he/she adventurous?  Do they go to the same restaurant all of the time or do they branch out?  If you know they like Havarti, don't automatically assume they like Havarti with spices or any of a number of cheeses that may look like Havarti but are a bit stronger.

If your intended is a male appreciator of fine brewed beverages, a safe cheese gift may be sharp cheddar, pepper cheese, or Gouda.  While all of these can be had in the $10-$20/lb range and most of them would be every day quality, this store has connoisseur quality examples of each and that's what we recommend for this holiday.  Cheese to avoid for this person: Brie.

If you're buying for a wine-loving woman with accrued fine tastes, that wedge of French Brie might be a perfect fit.  Branching out may involve Camembert, Taleggio, Brie with herbs/spices (mushrooms!), Port Salut, or any of a number of the many other fine French soft ripeners.  This recipient is one to be both coddled and stretched within reasonable parameters.

If you're buying for the kids, the obvious recommendation is the Chocolate Cheese; otherwise it's garden variety Cheddar, Havarti, or Gouda.  Now if the kid is palate-gifted like some who come in here, all bets are off and it's your call.  Cheeses to avoid for most kids: blues and pepper cheese.

As we are writing this post, we are concurrently putting together our next cheese order from the New York importer and keeping the holiday season in mind, this may be the way to go on the subject.  Actually forget all of what's written above and here is what you need to know: On Thursday's delivery we are expecting Reggiano Parmesan, Lincet de Bourgogne Triple Cream Brie, Notre Dame French Brie (our go-to), Barber's English Cheddar, Harlech Welsh Cheddar with Horseradish, Havarti and Havarti with Caraway, Reggianito (Argentine Parmesan, another go-to), Gruyere or a similar alternative, Rosey Goat, and a creamy blue.  Buy anything from this order and forget the personality profiling above.  Just remember to tell your recipient that the cheeses need to be refrigerated and not put under the tree!

This Thursday (!) between 5 and 7pm, David Rimmer with Lynda Allison Cellar Selections joins us with choices from his incredible book of European dinner wines for an expansive tasting of the best wines on the market.  David has more time in this business than I do so don't miss this opportunity.  Along with being an authority on the subject of fine wine, David is a great guy.  Please join us!    

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wine Gifts

If you know that your intended recipient is a wine lover, then why not indulge him/her with what they like. Sounds too easy, right?  For a lot of us, it is.  Over and over again I see customers trying to buy wine for others and ending up buying what they, themselves, like.  It's human nature.  We are all self-centered in probably a very similarly human way so we just assume someone else would like what we like...and of course, it ain't necessarily so.

Was it Socrates who said, "know thyself"?  Sage wisdom.  Pretty smart guy.  I would add, "know your friends".  Then, after pegging down your friends' tastes, resist the impulse to still act in your own interests and do your best to satisfy the others' tastes.  Now part of knowing your friends is knowing how particular they are about these kinds of things and conversely, how open they are to new experiences.  If you perceive "wiggle room" in the openness side of things, then by all means stretch that person with a new wine experience...but be careful.

Here are a few guidelines when purchasing wine for others:

1.  Label counts.  I know it sounds petty but people form an opinion about their gift as soon as they lay eyes on it.  So get a good looking package.

2.  Place may be important.  If there is an ethnic connection or perhaps a past (or future) trip to a wine venue, or some vague something else relating to place; really anything might make your gift a bit more intimate by extension.  Who knows what kind of transference may be conjured up by seeing a meaningful place name on a wine bottle.

3.  Price.  During the holidays we have the impossible job of doing right with our friends and at the same time doing right financially with ourselves.  I guess the solution is to stretch our budgets as we are able and hope for the best!

4.  Champagne!  I'm going to belt out this number as long as I'm in this business.  Champagne is an ideal gift for the holiday season, but once again, only if you sense acceptance on the part of the recipients.

5.  Packaging.  Here we mean gift bags, boxes, or baskets.  This store does it all and you may find one option better than the others.  We also provide boxes for shipping but by law, we do not ship.

Finally, by shopping here you have access to my thirty-five years of experience in the fine wine business.  I am quite confident we can get you what you need in the way of a wine gift.

This Friday after 5pm David Klepinger of Northeast Sales joins us for an evening of everyday California wines and a few special imports.  David is an engaging presenter at wine tastings and with his extensive background just go ahead and line up your wine questions now and then come and join us for the tasting.

Just a suggestion but maybe you could become a follower of this blog and make me feel good about doing it!