Wine Buying Tips from Natalie MacLean for Every Personality + A Phone Application!
In lieu of the upcoming final edition of Oprah’s Favourite Things on November 19th, I’d thought I share a few of the things that make my eyes twinkle with you before I begin this post….
And by a few things, I clearly meant one thing. Wine. I love wine. (But seriously, who even drinks vodka anymore?) Whenever I go out to dinner with my girlfriends, they always hand me over the wine list, leaving me in charge of selection, and carry on with their on conversations. I don’t know why they do this. I actually break out into hives, silently, as I fret over what to choose. In reality, I am confident in saying that if one were ever to be ranked in their knowledge of wine, I would be placed directly under the Lesser-Than-Amateur Level column. Last Friday evening, actually, I was in charge of buying the wine to bring over to my cousin’s house for a night in of drinking. As my curiosity knows no end, I wanted to “try something new”. However, my lack of experience in wine choosing, drinking or anything in general, coupled with my decision-making in-abilities (due mainly to the fact that I am obsessed with pleasing others and am always afraid I will fail) resulted in my spending 45 minutes wandering the aisles of the LCBO, only to come out with a Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cab that I must have tried at least 3-5 times already.
Slightly too late for last week, but just in time for the onslaught of festive gatherings I’ll be attending in the next 2 months, I stumbled upon an article in the Inspired Sobey’s magazine where wine expert Natalie MacLean talked about some great festive wines for under $20. After sending her a quick tweet shout-out thanking her for the great tips, she was gracious enough to send me even more info to help me from pulling out random pieces of hair the next time I hit the LCBO.
“This holiday season, anyone can tap into MacLean’s expertise via her free web site and mobile apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. They help consumers with a whole new type of pairing: wine with the people on your Christmas shopping list. The app and site also pair wines to thousands of dishes, including holiday favourites, such as turkey, goose, duck, and even partridge in a pear tree.”
I heaved a sigh of relief when I read this–be gone the days of strictly picking wines from the gondola end-caps (the only ones that feature descriptions and pairing suggestions) and hello to a world of curiosity-satisfying-possibility!
In addition, she sent me this handy go-to list for wine giving. I personally believe that wine is the best gift at this time of year. For two reasons–one, who doesn’t like wine, honestly? Two–do you know a better way to help ease the holiday stress? Here Natalie caters to every potential recipient you might be fretting over this year. And, on a selfish note, you can even get a few tips for a wine that best suits your own personality (because we all deserve a little treat for ourselves on the holidays, too, right?)
Natalie’s Top Ten Gift Wines for Your …
1. Hairdresser: For the person who combines humour and optimism every time she styles your mop. Go for a light, gulpable wine like a dry rosé. It’s versatile and fuss-free—a great quaff for your coif.
2. Psychiatrist: Of course, he’ll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that’s all about balance. Easy-drinking pinot noir is medium-bodied yet packed with flavour. Surprise him with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Big thinking means big progress for you. This wine also works for psychologists, marriage counsellors and bartenders.
3. The Boss: Pick too pricey a wine and your boss will think your last raise was too much; go cheap, and she’ll think you lack judgement. Focus on a label with a lot of white space since that makes the bottle look more expensive. A castle in the distance also works, but avoid fluffy animals.
4. Personal Trainer: Think a muscular, robust red would work? Hold that position. Instead, try riesling: this light white wine pairs well with a health-nut diet of salad and seafood, plus it’s low in alcohol. You can also give it to Pilates instructors, yoga masters and Tai Chi coaches.
5. Financial Planner: You and he both know it’s going to take decades before your portfolio recovers after the crash of 2008. With that long-term view, vintage port makes the perfect gift. This fortified wine from northern Portugal, with its long aging potential, will be around for both of you into your retirements.
6. Travel Agent: She’s been everywhere and seen everything, so go local with your choice of wine. Even better, if you live close to the winery, get the bottle signed by the winemaker.
7. Teacher: If you can’t find a suitably obscure wine with a Latin name, there’s always cream sherry. It’s the tipple of Oxford dons, not to mention the centerpiece of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Case of the Amontillado.
8. Mail Deliverer: Go for a winery that’s consistent year after year in producing a wine that can be enjoyed in snow, rain, sleet or hail. Try an Australian shiraz or Argentine malbec.
9. Mechanic: Yes, there’s a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not give a wine made by Mario Andretti in California or Ferrari in Italy?
10. Online Date: So you’re on your second or third rendezvous with the person you met on eHarmony or Dating.com. If you’re not sure yet whether marriage is a possibility, try something middle-of-the-road, like merlot. Yes, it’s the soft jazz of wine, but until you know, play it safe.
And after all that shopping, don’t forget yourself: even Santa’s little helpers need more than milk and cookies. Try something with high-alcohol like Italian Amarone or Rhone syrah: these big reds easily drown out tone-deaf carolling and pair beautifully with tired feet.
For Natalie’s favourite wineries, tasting notes and recipe matches for all the wine types mentioned above, please visit:
Nat Decants is Canada’s only wine and food mobile app. It was selected among the top five food and wine apps by both the New York Times and Computerworld Magazine. This free app is featured on Apple iTunes under Essentials Apps for “Holiday Cooking,” “Food & Wine” and “Date Night.” It’s also part of the featured best apps on BlackBerry’s Carousel. For information on the new features, please visit:
For iPod Touch or iPhone, visit iTunes:
For BlackBerry, visit App World:
For Droid, Nexus One, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones:
Natalie MacLean is an independent journalist and author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over. More than 115,000 wine and food lovers subscribe to her free monthly e-newsletter. For Google searches on popular terms like “food and wine matching” and “wine newsletter,” Natalie’s site is often on the first page of the results as it has become a go-to resource for food and wine lovers. Nat was named the World’s Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. She is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d’Escoffier International: www.nataliemaclean.com/bio.
So, like I said, I love wine. (Hint). Your welcome for introducing you to the gold-mine-of-wine that is Natalie MacLean. (Hint). Gifts as expressions of gratitude are always a good thing. (Hint) Oh, and mega hint for my girlfriends…this will definitely come in handy for our Christmas potluck dinner, and any other time your dining/entertaining and I might not be there to take on the wine-selection pressure.