Gift giving is tough. 90% of the struggle is simply figuring out what to give everyone on your list! You want to be thoughtful and creative, but you also want to keep your sanity. To help ease your stress levels and make Christmas shopping a breeze, the France44 staff has put together a collection of fun, unique gift items for everyone on your list—from the novice to the know-it-all. Read on to get some inspiration for the beer, wine and spirits lovers in your life… and maybe throw in a little something extra for yourself, too!
For the Novice:
- Wine Splits—There are a million wines out there. Where does a person know where to start? Instead of slogging through several full bottles of wine, why not put together a mini sampler of half bottles of wine? Check out our collection of domestic and international wines, including reds, whites, and sparkling! This is a perfect gift for someone who’s eager to dig into wine without having to commit to copious amounts of it.
- Rabble Wines—We all know how important packaging and labels are. It’s the first thing to catch our eye as we’re meandering the aisles… and there’s no harm in label-shopping, as long as the quality of the wine can back up that pretty package! Rob Murray’s line of Rabble Wines from Paso Robles, California, is a great way to introduce new wine lovers to important grape varietals. The textured, colorful labels on each one make an aesthetic impact on anyone who picks up a bottle, and each one is delicious to boot.
- “Creative Wine” Coloring Book—Adult coloring books are all the rage today. This whimsical wine book provides a creative Zen as you color in intricate designs, but also gives you a little wine education at the same time!
For the Dabbler:
- Amity Vineyards White Pinot Noir—This bottle will
stretch your wine brain! You’ve had normal red Pinot Noir, but have you encountered the white version? Hailing from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, this wine has a gorgeous pinky-coppery hue to it. Drink it chilled like a white wine, but experience Pinot Noir like never before!
- Kiona Lemberger—A France44 staff favorite! A grape usually grown in central and eastern Europe, Lemberger has now staked its New World claim in the state of Washington. Grown in the mineral-rich soils of Red Mountain in the Yakima Valley, this is a great “Alternative Red” to get the wine dabbler on your list off the well-worn path of “normal” varietals and onto the road less traveled.
- What To Drink With What You Eat—This is a staple book on any wine lover’s shelf, especially if they love food as much as they love wine. This user-friendly guide gives you traditional food and wine pairings, as well as some more advanced advice from world-renowned chefs and sommeliers. Learn the basics of food and wine pairing, and get inspired to try something new!
For the Highbrow:
- Coravin System—These gadgets are pricey, but they have revolutionized the way we drink wine. Now available in a “lite” version (Model 1) as well as a revamped Model 2, the Coravin wine preservation system is perfect for anyone who wants to dig into their old cellar stash without having to dump anything at the end of the night. Now you don’t have to wait for the “perfect moment” to open your treasured bottles—you can enjoy them over several days without your wine deteriorating too quickly.
- The Weird Grapes Trio—If your wine geek has explored every imaginable grape varietal and is looking for a new challenge, give these wines a whirl: Denavolo Catavela (from Emilia Romagna in Italy) is a curious white blend of Malvasia, Ortrugo, Marsanne, Sauvignon blanc and Santa Maria, aged on the lees in large vats for 9 months. Tour Grise Chenin Noir (from France’s Loire Valley) is as funky and chunky as a light red wine can get, and is made using biodynamic farming methods. Zelige Caravent is made from a unique grape called Chasan, which is a cross between Chardonnay and the obscure Listan, that results in a surprising “orange wine.” This comes from the white grapes being vinified in the same manner as a red wine.
- Perfectly Aged “Drink Now” Treasures—So often, we have to wait upwards of a decade or more before our Bordeaux, Burgundies and Barolos are ready to drink… and who has time for that?! If you’re really looking to impress your wino, consider the Rossignol-Trapet Chambertin Grand Cru 2004 or the Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1983. These wines are singing right now—we’ve scrounged around and done the aging for you—and they can’t (and shouldn’t) wait to be popped and enjoyed. While they aren’t cheap, they are truly “unicorn wines”: a unique, one-of-a kind experience in a bottle.
For the Novice:
- Third Street Sugar Shack Maple Stout—A wrapped eight-pack of Sugar Shack could trick any gift receiver into believing they received a pair of shoes. But alas! It’s an armful of maple stout. Crafted with maple syrup harvested by the monks at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN – this brew has a seductive chocolate hue. Mellow roasted malts lay the base with a deftly balanced maple presence. Creamy smooth carbonation and some vanilla overtones make this stout super crushable.
- Pilsner Urquell Lunch Box–You can choose from three unique vintage-design lunch boxes each encasing a four-pack of this timeless lager. Pilsner Urquell, meaning “Pilsner of the ancient source,” is the world’s first pilsner-type lager. It has been brewed in Plzen since 1842, commencing a beer revolution, as this brew is the inspiration for a majority of the beer produced today. Exceptionally soft water found in the town of Plzen lends this lager a gentle malt presence. Fresh, bready aromas fill your nostrils with undertones of honeysuckle and caramel. Czech-grown Saaz hops contribute a spicy, herbal aroma and a cleansing bitter finish. Having a Pilsner Urquell lunch box immediately elevates anybody’s lunch game.
- Bauhaus Tallander Scotch Ale—One of our local favorites, Bauhaus Brew Labs, crafts this magical Scottish-style dark ale as the Minnesota winter settles in. Big, complex malt character keeps your palate cozy through the frigid cold. The flavors suggest freshly baked bread, toast, and dark caramel. A pleasantly-hopped finish adds crisp drinkability. This wintery-ale is approachable to beer geeks and beginners alike!
For the Dabbler:
- Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb! Imperial Stout—This indulgent imperial stout is a perfect pairing for your ugly Christmas sweater and an evening by the fireplace. Christmas Bomb! throws cinnamon into the mix with the ancho chilis, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla beans already found in Prairie Bomb! This beer has everything but the kitchen sink. Let someone special to you know you love them by gifting them one of the best stouts in all the land.
- Funkwerks Variety Pack—Going to a holiday party and don’t know what to bring? Treat your friends to a sampling of Funkwerks flipping-awesome fermented libations. These mile-high brewers make saisons that will leave you smitten. Half of the pack sets the stage with flagships, Saison and Tropic King. In the other half you will find a fruity twist on each. Pear juice contributes a fruity but dry character to the phenolic spiciness of the Saison. Mango puree enhances all the juicy tropical character found in the Tropic King. Here’s a raison to drink saisons this holiday saison!
- Victory Hop Ranch Double IPA—Victory will wrangle up your senses with one of the hoppiest Double IPAs in town! Hop Ranch explodes with dank, juicy hop aromas. The expressive Azacca, Citra, Chinook and Mosaic hop varieties showcase sharp mango, pineapple-citrus flavors. A gift for the boldest hop-head you know. Extremely dry and bitter, Hop Ranch highlights the possibilities created by quality and attentive dry-hopping.
For the Highbrow:
- Bosteels DeuS Brut des Flandres—DeuS exemplifies the heights that beer can achieve. Crafted as a Bière de Champagne, DeuS bridges the gap between beer and bubbles. Using only water, yeast, malt, and hops, Bosteels has created a brew that closely resembles a fine champagne. After primary fermentation, the beer is transported to the Champagne region, where it is finished with the highly-regarded méthode champenoise. Secondary fermentation and a year plus of maturation with the traditional remuage and degorgement give this beer a sparkling, bright effervescence. Serve very cold in a flute at 32°-39°F and cheers to good tidings!
- Rodenbach Alexander–Alexander is an extraordinary brew from the famous Flemish foeder folks over at Rodenbach. This mixed fermentation beer was created in honor of Alexander Rodenbach’s 200th birthday in 1986. After a lengthy absence, Rodenbach has brought it back in limited quantities. A blend of two-thirds mature beer and one-third young beer, Alexander then macerates on whole sour cherries. Beautiful complexity that is reminiscent of a Burgundy Pinot Noir. Treat the sour-beer lover in your life to this magical concoction.
- Orkney Dark Island Reserve—Dark Island Reserve is an opulent Orcadian Ale bound to please the most highbrow of beer connoisseurs. Aged in barrels that previously held fine Scotch whisky, expect wafty smoke aromas and a smooth vanilla character. The reserve is produced meticulously to achieve a balance of fruit, spice, oak and roast. This beer pours a consuming-black hue and has sweetish notes of dates, figs, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, whisky, and baking spice. The attention to detail on the bottle makes for a nice gift presentation.
For the Novice:
- Tattersall Vodka—Tattersall Distilling out of Northeast Minneapolis has exploded onto the scene with a stable of spirits and liqueurs and one of the best gift is their classic vodka. Pair this clean yet complex vodka with any of the Fever Tree all Natural Tonic Waters (Tom’s favorite would be the Elderflower) or fill with club soda and drizzle in their Crème De Fleur (violet and lavender) or this new Cranberry Liqueur, perfect for the holiday season.
- Bittercube Variety Pack–-Have a special someone who wants to get into craft cocktails and needs a place to start? The Bittercube Variety Pack is the solution! A pack of six one ounce bitters all suited to different types of cocktails or twists on classics, this is the perfect way to spice up your home cocktail bar. There are staff favorites filling this pack, including cherry bark for Manhattans, Orange for old fashioneds and martinis, and the grapefruit/hibiscus filled Jamaican #2’s for gin & tonics and margaritas. There’s something for everyone!
- Glenmorangie Taster Pack–-Know someone just discovering single malt Scotch whisky? Grab them this pack of four 100ML tasting bottles of the Glenmorangie line! Taste the classic 10 year and the three 12 years finished in different desert wine casks: sherry, port, and the unique Sauternes. Experience the differences without breaking the bank!
For the Dabbler:
- Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth—Anyone dabbling in cocktails needs a bottle of Carpano Antica in their lives. Made from an original recipe dating back to 1786, Carpano Antica has just the right amount of dense rich dark fruit (plums, dates, figs) to balance out with a hint of orange rind and bitter gentian. This is the King of sweet vermouth here at France 44. Pair Carpano Antica with Rittenhouse Rye or Bulleit Rye in a Manhattan or mix with Letherbee Gin and Campari to make a delicious Negroni.
- Talisker Storm Single Malt Scotch—Getting into single malt scotch is getting harder and harder due to the price point of unique scotches that people may want to try but haven’t pulled the trigger on just yet. Talisker Storm bucks that trend offering a unique single malt showing mild smoke and sea salt without breaking the bank. Notes of Sweet toffee balance out billowing smoke and sea salt making this one of the most accessible yet complex island single malts on the shelf!
- Booker’s Noe Cask Strength Bourbon—Bourbon is the hottest spirit on the market and many products are disappearing, becoming limited, and allocated. Booker’s Noe will be following this trend and going up to $99.99 a bottle in 2017 due to demand and lack of aged goods. Filled with busty notes of molasses, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, what we have is what we have and when its gone it’s gone!
For the Highbrow:
- Copper & Kings Craftwerks Sierra Nevada—Want to blow a whiskey drinker away with a super unique product? Get them a limited Edition bottling of Copper & King’s Kentucky Brandy finished in Sierra Nevada Smoked Porter barrels! This beautiful fruity brandy spends its life in Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels before a finishing period in these Smoked Porter barrels giving them beautiful malty chocolate and vanilla with a nice oaky smoke to pair. Limited Edition, get it while its hot!
- Monkey 47 Dry Schwarzwald Gin—Have a gin drinker in your life? Look no further than Monkey 47. Using 47 ingredients and distilled from molasses, this gin is meant to taste like a German Black Forest. This robust gin is packed with notes of lemon balm, Douglas fir, lemon balm and lingonberry. Beautiful in a martini, gin & tonic, or a vesper but best drank neat slightly chilled. Bottled in an apothecary half bottle with a true cork top, this is one of the best gifts of the holiday season!
- Glendronach 18 Year Allardice—Single Malt Scotch matured solely in Sherry barrels for their whole lives are back in vogue and hard to get your hands on at the right price. With scotch prices soaring, one line that has yet to fly has been the Glendronach. Their 12, 15, Cask Strength and 18 are all aged solely in sherry barrel (with the 15 finished in port). This 18 year is both a France 44 favorite and a hidden gem, tasting like vanilla, almond cream, raisins, dates, figs and plums. Get it while you can!