VinePair is ringing in the Holiday Cheers with a spotlight on the bottles we’re gifting (and hoping to receive) and a look inside some of our favorite holiday traditions and recipes — from elevated eggnog to all things bubbly. Plus, we’ll be reflecting on the past year in the beverage industry and shifting our focus to the drinks trends we expect to see in 2022.
Every year, when the cold weather comes around and a certain Mariah Carey song soars back to the top of the charts, our minds begin to turn toward thoughts of holiday celebrations and packages wrapped in festive paper. While many dream of all that glitters, we at VinePair believe that the best gifts are of the liquid persuasion.
For drinks lovers, the holiday season is the perfect time for giving and receiving prized bottles to display proudly on bar carts or age in cellars. From unicorn tequilas and seasonal liqueurs, to themed holiday sweaters and cocktail projects galore, read on to learn what the VinePair team is giving loved ones and adding to our wish lists this year.
“For the holidays this year, I plan to batch cocktails to give out as gifts — Martinis, Negronis, and Manhattans are easy to batch and make great gifts. In terms of what I hope to receive, I’ll never say no to Champagne.” —Adam Teeter, co-founder and CEO
“My family’s really big on Martinis, so my plan is to make a few bottles of olive oil-washed vodka to give to everyone this year. And for friends, I’ll make a few bottles of banana rum. As for me, I’d love to add a beautiful bottle of Italicus Liqueur to my bar cart, for White Negronis, Margaritas, and more.” —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor
“I would love to give the gift of expensive Syrah from its home in a little place called Hermitage in the Northern Rhône and hope to get a sip. To receive, all I want is for people to listen to ‘Wine 101’ and become empowered and confident in their wine choices. Also, a single-vineyard 2010 Barolo would be nice.” —Keith Beavers, tastings director and host, “Wine 101”
“This year, I’m giving my brother the gift of an infinity whiskey starter kit. These bottles, in which collectors can create their own blends, are made with one starter whiskey to which drams of additional whiskeys are added over time. Along with a pretty glass decanter, I’m starting him off with our favorite bourbon from 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Co. in Vail, Colo. I’m hoping to receive a bottle of Don Julio 1942 — though perhaps that’s wishful thinking…” —Katie Brown, associate editor
“This holiday, I’m definitely going to be gifting a bottle or two of a new favorite Cab Franc. I recently visited Sherwood House Vineyards with friends, and we all loved the Sherwood House Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc. So delicious! I’m hoping to receive a bottle of Don Julio Primavera. Ever since I tried it this summer, I’ve been thinking about the gorgeous bottle.” —Lyndsey Corin, director, brand partnerships and sales
“I’d love to give my dad the A to Z 2014 Pinot Noir! It’s one of his favorite bottles, and he loves to talk about it. My friends gave me Robert Simonson’s ‘Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails‘ book back in September for my birthday. I’d love to make some of these at a little holiday get-together with them!” —Ariela Basson, associate designer
“I have a friend that is really into Zinfandels now, so I’m going to gift her a 2017 Cortina Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley with the caveat that she has to drink it with me. For me, I’d like to receive a nice bottle of bourbon for the holiday. Blanton’s is always welcome in my house.” —Jason Russell, senior director, brand partnerships
“A bottle I’ll definitely be gifting this year is Rabarbara Liqueur from Reykjavik Distillery in Iceland. The production is limited at this time, but bottles are available online from Duke’s Liquor Box, which happens to be in my neighborhood! I learned about this producer from a story we published earlier this year by Jake Emen — and I was so enamored by the concept of local spirits made with berries I’d never heard of that I went to go see it for myself. I came home with one of each bottle, and plan on buying as much as I can afford for family and friends. And to my beer friends near and far: Please send Brave Noise collabs!” —Cat Wolinski, managing editor
“I hope to be given one of the Tito’s Christmas sweaters, specifically very oversized. I’d love to give one of our good boxed wine recs to open people’s eyes to boxed wine again!” —Lily Nelson, producer, social video
“This year, I am gifting each of my friends a bottle of my family’s Swedish glögg recipe, a mulled wine with port and bottled-in-bond whiskey added in for an extra kick. When I get back home, I hope my family has picked up some 750-milliliter bottles from craft breweries in Minnesota, in particular from Pryes, Falling Knife, and Portage.” —Julia Larson, editorial intern
“This holiday season, I hope I’ve dropped enough hints to friends and family to be gifted a bottle of the Tequila Ocho Plata, which is a great option for sipping neat (or so I’ve heard). A bottle I’ll be gifting one of my best friends who is quite the bourbon lover is Pinhook’s ‘Bourbon War’ Vertical Series 5 Year, an affordable pick that tastes like it’s pricier than it is.” —Dario Foroutan, social editor
“I would love to be given a bottle of Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur for the holidays. Like every other basic girl this year, I discovered my affinity for Espresso Martinis, but am not a fan of using Kahlúa or cream-based coffee liquors in them. I’m a huge cold-brew coffee fan in general, and Mr. Black seems like the best of both worlds and also, of course, has fabulous branding and design.” —Danielle Grinberg, art director
“I plan to gift a great bottle of Barolo — it’s delicious and will be a unique add to a friend’s wine cart. I would be happy to receive a wine that pairs well with hearty dishes as we head into the colder months!” —Jenny Riddell, director, brand partnerships and events
“Many of my friends are either drinks aficionados or professionals, which makes it tough to find great bottles they haven’t already tasted. Luckily, there are some lesser-known gems out there, such as Lemorton Selection Calvados Domfrontais. Distilled from both pears and apples, this is a wonderfully complex Calvados, perfect for rounding off the night or including in classic cocktails to bring a new dimension to the drink. As for myself, I’m a big fan of bubbles at Christmas, particularly blanc de noirs Champagne — and especially when someone else is buying!” —Tim McKirdy, senior staff writer