RICHARD ESLING: Wine treats for those on two legs or four

A selection of 'vinous' treats

At the risk of being accused of ‘shutting the stable door’, I’m going to write about presents – wine related of course.

Yes, yes, I know Christmas is over already, but the New Year’s celebrations are yet to come.

In fact, if you follow the Spanish tradition which keeps to the Christmas Story of gifts being related to those brought by the Three Kings, then presents should be given on the twelfth day, January 6.

There is an entire range of gifts available for the wine lover, serious, comical and downright frivolous. Many of these are glasses of all shapes and sizes, with some of the best being those made by Riedel. These are designed to be grape variety specific and amazingly, they do seem to work. A Pinot Noir tasted in a Cabernet Sauvignon glass just isn’t quite the same as in its own designated glass, and vice versa. Riedel glasses are top quality and as such are expensive, but make great presents and are worth the investment.

Then of course, there are glasses with various marked levels, such as ‘small glass’, ‘large glass’ and ‘grandpa’s glass’, each naturally getting larger. Personalised glasses abound which are more fun than practical, including a glass which takes a whole bottle of wine and an upside-down glass.

A different wine novelty idea I came across recently in Austen’s in Billingshurst, is a wine bottle shaped folding umbrella. Named Chateau Brolly, the caption on the casing reads “Today’s Forecast...a 100 percent chance of wine”, the sort of forecast to which I can relate. A great novelty at around £10.

Presents for family and friends is all very well, but we mustn’t forget our faithful four-footed friends.

The ultimate treat for your pampered pooch, as you sit sipping a glass of bubbly, must surely be Pawsecco. Although not fizzy (it would make them sneeze terribly), this is described as ‘Still “wine” for cats and dogs’ and is available from Pets at Home stores. Not a drop of alcohol is present, it is an infusion of elderflower, nettle, ginseng, lime flower and carrot. If that doesn’t instil a sense of happy feelings in your pet and gratitude to the owner, nothing will. Their bowls will always be half full. Apparently created with the help of veterinary experts, the advice is no more than a bottle a day. But if your fluffy friend accompanies you to the pub from time to time, then he or she may have a taste for beer rather than wine. Fear not, Pets at Home also sells Dog Beer called ‘Snuffle’ – chicken flavour, naturally.

But for some more serious wine gifts to treat someone special in your life, good old M & S have a great selection, from Champagne and truffles to a single bottle box of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne at £150 a throw.

Something a little different for the true connoisseur is the Lustau vintage 2000 sherry. This a very rare sherry, since the vast majority is blended over several years in the traditional solera system. This wine, however, is from a single year, 2000, and was matured in ex-oloroso sherry casks and bottled in July 2017.

Each of the Lustau vintage sherries is different and is bottled only when it has reached full maturity. This is a limited edition of only 5,700 bottles, made from Palomino grapes in their own vineyard in the Carrascal estate.

‘Dried tobacco leaves, leather and dried figs on the nose, rich sweet and nutty on the palate. Orange blossom and marzipan on the finish’.

A wonderful treat at around £20 per 50cl bottle.

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.

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