Holy crap, can you believe it’s December already? Christmas is a mere 17 days away and in my books that’s about as scary as Chuck Norris wielding a chain saw.

In an attempt to make your life a tad less stressful I would like to offer up my top five booze-related Christmas ideas.

Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale

While Aunt Ester continues to bring the same old fruitcake to Christmas dinner, you can be the life of the party with a massive bottle of Christmas beer! Anchor brewery, based out of San Francisco, has been producing a seasonal Christmas ale for the past 35 years and the 2009 edition is as delicious as ever. Their top-secret recipe produces a deep, full-bodied brown ale with enough hop character to keep it from being overly heavy. Notes of spice cake and cinnamon lead into a long dark chocolate finish. While this tasty delight is available in the standard six pack, it’s my suggestion you opt for the awesome-infused 1.5 litre magnum format! That’s what I call Santa sized! Boo-ya.

Messias Colheita Port

For the port lover on your list look no further than the line-up of Messias Colheita Port’s. Colheita’s are a style of tawny port, which means they are aged for extended periods in oak barrels giving them their trademark tawny colour and flavours of nuts and caramel. What makes Colheita’s special is that instead of having an average age listed on the bottle (ie Taylor Fladgate 10 year, 20 year, etc.) all of the Port comes from a single vintage. The Colheita’s from Messias are a great value, with a 1965 or 1966 vintage priced just over the $100.00 mark. Considering a bottle of Taylor Fladgate 40 Year can now run you over $200.00 these are a steal. You can find several vintages of these great gift ideas at many of Calgary’s specialty stores including Bin 905, MetroVino and Willow Park.

Shafer 1.5 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you have a wine lover that has been extra good this year and favours full-bodied reds, then look no further than the Shafer 1.5 Cabernet Sauvignon to wrap under the tree. This rich, opulent, silky Napa Valley Cabernet is simply dripping with sweet cassis, blueberry and vanilla finish that lasts for a full minute. Although this continues to rise in price every year (it is now around $110.00), it is still a great value relative to it’s big brother, the Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, which is over $300.00 a bottle. Imagine the wine-stained smile and rosy glow of your loved one after they’ve consumed this vinous delight…now that’s priceless!

Riedel Glassware

Austrian based glassware producer Riedel have had a massive impact on the world of wine with unique glassware designed for nearly every grape variety and wine region. Although the price of their glassware can be dizzying, Riedel has earned their outstanding reputation through outstanding quality, research and development. I’ve personally taken the Riedel challenge several times, for example tasting the same Pinot Noir from both a standard wine glass and a Riedel Pinot Noir Glass. In every instance the Riedel glass has won hands down making the wine smell and taste much better. Every expert I have seen take the challenge has come to the same conclusion…the Riedel glassware really works! So why not enrich the lives of your friends and loved ones with a set of glasses to compliment their favourite grape variety or region. For more information visit

A Vine Arts Sommelier!

What good is writing a blog if you can’t throw in a shameless plug now and then? This Christmas give the gift that keeps on giving with a private wine tasting with a Vine Arts Sommelier. We will come to your home or office and deliver a custom wine or Single Malt Scotch tasting based on your needs, preferences and budget. Our Sommeliers are highly knowledgeable and educated without being stuffy or boring. So spice up your holiday gathering or give a gift that keeps on giving with your own Sommelier for hire! Contact us at (403)-813-3913 or for more info.

Cheers and happy shopping!



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