3 Birmingham wine experts create the perfect gift guide

Wine bottles lined up at a Birmingham wine shop.
I don’t know much about football, but I can tell you this is a great starting lineup. Photo via Golden Age Wine.

Wine—a gift as old as time, but how do you know which kind is best for different holiday parties? Three Birmingham wine experts fill us in on bringing the right choice to the table this holiday season.

1. Golden Age Wine has your picky extended family covered.

Two bottles of Pinot Noir.
LOW: 2017 Koehler-Ruprecht Spätburgunder Kallstadt Kabinett Trocken $24
HIGH: 2016 La Combe Grisard Gevrey-Chambertin “Champ Franc”$72
Photo via Golden Age Wine.

An entire side of my family is from the Napa Valley area. Some kids grew up going to parks. My aunts and uncles took me on tours of vineyards.

That being said—they know their stuff and I don’t want to see the wine I gift them used for cooking. Thankfully, Birmingham wine experts Brandon Loper and Trent Stewart from Golden Age Wine have a solution.

Pinot Noir is a crowd pleaser

If you’re wanting to upstage your cousins and bring a nice gift the wine snobs in your family will appreciate, look to the Gevrey-Chambertin.

“Gevrey-Chambertin is the creme-de-la-creme of Pinot Noir. Bring this bottle if you are looking for something unique and a bottle of wine you want to spend some time with.”

Brandon Loper

Most people are familiar with Pinot Noir, so it’s a safe bet to bring to extended family or the in-laws. The Koehler-Ruprecht above is classic, light and won’t break your budget—but it’s still recognized as a nice wine.

“If you don’t know what’s being cooked or if you want to drink the wine before the meal, it can serve as a pretty great aperitif.”

Trent Stewart

Zinfandel fits the whole American theme.

Two bottles of Zinfandel.
LOW: 2017 FUSO21 “Calx” Puglia Primitivo $16. Bold fruit with a hint of rusticity.
HIGH 2016 Day Zinfandel $28. Brambly fruit and jammy juiciness with great balance.
Photo via Golden Age Wine.

Think Zinfandel for a traditional Thanksgiving wine sure to please the entire family. It really stands up to the food on the table (and hopefully any particular family members.)

“Thanksgiving is an American holiday. To me of all wines made in America, Zinfandel is really, uniquely American. You don’t see wine anywhere else called Zinfandel.”

Trent Stewart

To stay up to date on events and wine tastings, follow Golden Age Wine on Instagram @goldenagewine or check out their website.

2.The Wine Loft helps out with your hipster Friendsgiving.

How many friends have grown beards lately and started claiming they’re “really into craft beer?” Birmingham wine expert Stella Nostrum gave me some tips for how to show off your wine knowledge by bringing something cool, before it’s cool.

Add a little personality to your wine.

Two bottles of Vermentino di Sardegna.
Vermentino di Sardegna Under $20. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

Vermentino is a textured, very structured white. It’s weird enough where the hipsters are satisfied, but still palatable where everyone enjoys it. Don’t forget to tell your friends how it’s made, because the process gives the wine an extra cool factor.

“In Sardinia, Italy the wine is made in these big clay pots that you put underground. You just mash up a bunch of grapes, throw it in there and see what happens!”

Stella Nostrum
A bottle of Sokol Blosser.
Sokol Blosser. $35-$40. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

Did you know Alabama is the largest buyer of Oregon wines? How’s that for a way to change topic when your cousin Jennifer starts going on about her “life changing study abroad experience.”

Try using Sokol Blosser as a conversation piece. Not only is it a beautiful Pinot Noir, but it’s also made with sustainable practices.

Start a different conversation

A Birmingham wine expert shows off a bottle of Barolo Chinato Cocchi.
Barolo Chinato Cocchi $70. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

Yes, you would really have to like your friends to bring this to the party. However, picture a little thimble a mouse might drink out of, and that’s how much of this you should pour into a glass—making it the perfect drink for a large party.

“It’s for an after dinner conversation. You buy one bottle and share it between 10, 15 or 20 people.”

Stella Nostrum

This bottle will last you YEARS, because it’s meant to be sipped and appreciated. Coming to Friendsgiving with something this classy, yet bold and unusual will definitely be remembered.

Stella is so fun to chat with and explains wine beautifully! Hear more from her and the team on their Instagram @wineloftbham or through their website.

3. The Birmingham wine experts at Piggly Wiggly give you something unique.

If you’re looking to bring a wine no one else is likely to come with, start your search at Piggly Wiggly. Wine Manager Scott Atkinson made sure I wasn’t showing up with a boring Cabernet (or boxed Franzia.)

This IS your grandmother’s wine, but upgraded

A bottle of Vecchia Modena Cleto Chiarli Figli.
Vecchia Modena Cleto Chiarli Figli (try saying that 3 times fast) $14.99. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

“Bring this to people who aren’t afraid to try something new or people who you need to tell, ‘You shouldn’t be afraid to try something new’.”

Scott Atkinson

Add this to your cart for that eccentric friend who is probably hosting some off-beat themed holiday party. This red is dry and sparkling with just a touch of fruit, but not sweet. Pair it with a nice charcuterie plate and the evening is *chef’s kiss*.

One in a million (or 1,104)

A Birmingham wine expert holds a bottle of Atlántida Blanco.
Atlántida Blanco $29.99. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

Bring something to brag about—they only made 1,104 bottles of this wine for the world and Piggly Wiggly received 132 of them. Not only is it unique in itself, but try serving it with an untraditional holiday food.

“Specifically for this time of year I would do it with crab cakes. Everyone will quit talking for a second, because they’ll go down this tunnel vision of being in the moment.”

Scott Atkinson

Interested? You better quit procrastinating, because there are only 30 bottles left! Snag yours at the Crestline location.

A bottle of Louis De Grenell .
Louis De Grenell $16.99. Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

This sparkling rosé from Samur, France isn’t that same tired bottle of champagne you somehow always have sitting in the back of your cupboard. It boasts new flavors, but is still something everyone will like and appreciate for the different taste.

“It’s the kick off of the party. We look to find something that isn’t as ubiquitous, but more impactful.”

Scott Atkinson

Be sure to follow the Birmingham wine experts on Instagram @pigwinecrestline and subscribe to their mailing list.

Don’t forget to check out Birmingham’s latest winery Finch Fine Wines in the Mountain Brook Plaza.

Which wine are you eager to try? Let us know on social @bhamnow!