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Bottled gifts that sparkle and shine

Wines of the times

Looking for last-minute gift-giving ideas that come in a bottle? At Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants in downtown Bellingham
Looking for last-minute gift-giving ideas that come in a bottle? At Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants in downtown Bellingham (Photo by Katie Bechkowiak)
By Katie Bechkowiak CDN Contributor

I enjoy shopping for holiday gifts. I like wandering the streets of Bellingham, looking for that special something that will put a smile on a friend or loved one’s face, or something I might actually like for myself.

When it comes to shopping for gifts, there are generally two types of people — those who are easy to shop for, and those who are not. My daughter, Miss Puff, is easy. She goes onto Amazon, clicks on the things she would like, and I buy some of them. This method of shopping, however, is too easy and leaves me feeling a little Scrooge-like; clicking away on Amazon shows goodwill to just one man, not men, so she gets some gifts that aren’t on her Amazon list.

The people who aren’t easy to shop for are the people that “have everything.” My dad was one of those people, mainly because if he saw something he wanted, he’d buy it. When it comes to shopping for people like my dad, I know I could find something to give, but it would be purely for the sake of giving. For example, I’m pretty sure he didn’t have one of those wood signs that encourage him to “Eat, drink, and be merry,” or “Live, laugh, and love.”

The obvious solution to buying for people who have everything is to buy them wine.

I realize some gift-givers have trouble with this because there’s no evidence of a gift if it’s consumable, nothing to look at and say, “That’s the lovely Santa cookie jar I got from cousin Sam.” While this may be a gift to “remember you by,” it will most likely be forgotten until next year, when it can be re-gifted at a White Elephant work party.

Wouldn’t you rather be remembered by a memorable bottle of wine than a forgettable life slogan on a piece of wood or a seasonal cookie jar? Of course you would! Allow me to help you with that.

As this is the time of year for sparkle, the absolute no-brainer wine gift is Champagne. By its very nature, Champagne says “live, laugh, and love” in the most festive manner, and the Nicolas Feuillate Brut Rose is my pick.

I am not a person who shops for wine by its label, but I simply couldn’t help myself on this one — it’s beautiful, it’s real Champagne, and it’s magically delicious. The never-ending stream of delicate bubbles is pure joy and sure to put a smile on the face of even the Grinchiest of recipients.

Ted Seifert, owner of Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants in downtown Bellingham — where I purchased all of the bottles on this list — has this in good supply for $29.99, a very merry price indeed.

For the white wine lover on your list, do yourself a favor and splurge on a bottle of 2018 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Chardonnay ($59.99, Santa Cruz Mountains). As Seifert put it, “this is a desert island wine.”

Mount Eden was founded in 1945 and has the longest lineage of estate chardonnay in California. I am not a patient wine drinker, but I did take Seifert’s advice to decant the wine and wait (really?) for an hour to allow it to reach its full potential. Oh, holy night, this wine is a beauty — toasted hazelnuts, coconut, buttery brûlée, lemon curd and a thread of brilliant acidity — and should not be served over-chilled.

For the red wine enthusiast on your list, I selected two wines. My inner wine geek loves mourvedre, so I couldn’t resist the 2020 Le Vin de Plum mourvedre/syrah blend from the Minervois region of France ($17.99).

The seductive eggplant-purple color of the wine will make you eager to drink up; take my advice, though, and decant this wine or let it sit in your glass awhile — the steely, mineral finish evolves into lush dark berries when given time. You will be rewarded for your patience with flavors of licorice, candied currants, wild blackberries, allspice and tangy salami. If I had a wood sign that said, “Wine. It’s what’s for dinner,” this would be dinner.

The second red I picked was the 2020 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs ($50.99). Ridge is a legendary winery and frankly, any wine from them is gift-worthy. I went with the Lytton Springs because I like the field blend — zinfandel, petite sirah and carignane — and I wanted something big and juicy.

Hallelujah, I got just what I wanted. For the lover of big reds, this wine is spot-on. Thirteen months in new and used American oak barrels give the wine the tannic structure it needs to hold this powerful wine together — blackberry, black plum, black licorice and a hint of sage — and rewards you with a long and heady finish. This wine will stand up to your standing rib roast perfectly.

My last piece of advice for shopping for wine as gifts is simple: One for me, one for you. Cheers!

Katie Bechkowiak owned Vinostrology wine bar in downtown Bellingham from 2013–19. If you have wine suggestions for her monthly column, contact

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