Richard Jennings' Wine Gift Guide

Top wine gifts as recommended by Richard Jennings


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A Port makes a great gift for those who like an occasional, special bottle of wine to end a great meal or party. I particularly like them on cold winter nights, so late December is a perfect time to give or receive a bottle. For the amount of work and aging that goes into them, Ports are also relative values.

Tawny ports are wines made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation, which concentrates the flavors but also mellows the wine. As a result of this aging, they gradually change to a golden-brown or “tawny” color. The exposure to wood tends to impart nutty flavors, and different casks are ultimately blended to match the house style. The official categories for aged tawnies are 10, 20, 30 and over 40 years. I particularly love 20-year-old tawnies, which usually offer the most complexity balanced with a sense of freshness.

Taylor and Fonseca are two of the greatest Port producers, and both are under the ownership of Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman. Taylor’s 20-year-old tawny is my top choice at the under $50 level. For the last widely declared vintage year, 2007, I prefer the Fonseca vintage Port, which has more delicacy and will be approachable earlier than its Taylor sibling. Both of these will make outstanding and much appreciated gifts.

Under $50

N.V. Taylor (Fladgate) Porto 20 Year Old Tawny - Light medium browning ruby color with pale meniscus; light cherry, baked cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, baked cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points

Under $100

2007 Fonseca Porto Vintage - Opaque, very dark red violet color; rich, complex, berry, blackberry, faintly herbal, black fruit, tar nose; rich, powerful but poised, berry, black fruit, blackberry, vanilla, black cherry palate; long finish 97 points

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  • Did Richard Jennings ever live in Roswell New Mexico?

    Dec 06, 2012 at 1:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
    Hand of Snooth
    780161 124,447

    Hi John. No, I never had the pleasure of living in Roswell.

    Dec 06, 2012 at 1:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Russ Beebe
    1100415 1

    An outstanding lineup, Richard - most especially in the way you presented it as gifts you would enjoy receiving yourself. A very practical (and delicious) viewpoint!

    Dec 06, 2012 at 3:55 PM

  • Snooth User: PFBG
    454785 1

    The picture shows a Rosso not a Brunello. Altough you can have very good Rossos, they don't compare to the simplest Brunello. Don't you agree?

    Dec 06, 2012 at 5:55 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
    Hand of Snooth
    780161 124,447

    Russ, thank you for the kind words. I always try to select gifts for people that I would be happy to receive myself, and that philosophy has served me well.

    I totally agree that it would be the very rare Rosso that would hold a candle to most Brunellos, but there are also some lousy Brunellos out there, so we'd have to make rare exceptions. Good catch though.

    Dec 06, 2012 at 6:26 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,084

    I have always gave the RAMOS PINTO 20 yr. tawny for gifts. Is the Taylor Fladgate just as good?

    Dec 09, 2012 at 8:52 AM

  • How about a muscat?

    Dec 09, 2012 at 11:34 PM

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