Last-minute gifts for the wine-lover in your life

John Wilson picks his favourite bottles, glassware, books and accessories

Left your shopping to the very last minute? Just about everyone will be grateful for a gift of some wine, but with just a bit of thought, you can find something a little more memorable.

The eighth edition of The World Atlas of Wine has recently been published. While there is no shortage of wine books, this remains the gold-standard reference. First released in 1971, it established Hugh Johnson as the pre-eminent wine writer, a position he has held for almost five decades. Later he was joined by Jancis Robinson, another authority on everything vinous. This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and full of maps and interesting information. Anybody with an interest in wine should own a copy.

If you are still searching for wine to serve on Christmas Day, or simply some wine to drink over the holiday, why not pop into your local wine shop or off-licence? As the supermarkets continue to increase their market share through predatory pricing and (often bogus) special offers, spare a thought for the independent struggling to make a living. Most have a far better and more interesting selection of wine, beer and spirits, as well as the expert knowledge to back it up.

For Christmas dinner, I like to dust off my decanters, my best wine glasses, my silver wine coaster, and any other accessory I can lay hands on. I find that if even the most modest wine looks better, it invariably tastes better too

Three of the four wines below are available exclusively from independents, and would make great all-purpose wines, suitable for every occasion over the holiday period. Even if your local independent isn’t included, every decent wine shop will have plenty to offer, in the €10-€20 range.


If you are looking for a last-minute present, I would suggest buying one or two special bottles of wine instead of a six-bottle gift box containing average wine. Most wine-lovers don’t get the chance to try out expensive wines very often, and might even invite you around to share it. Alternatively, a magnum of red wine or Champagne not only makes a real statement; as wine matures better in larger formats, it will taste better too.

If the wine lover in your life is as clumsy as I am, she or he will certainly be grateful for a new set of good wine glasses, or a decanter. Again, most independents will have a range on offer.

My favourites include Jus de Vine in Portmarnock, in north Co Dublin; Terroirs in Donnybrook, in Dublin 4 (which has all sorts of edible goodies, too); Mitchell & Son (which has branches in Dublin and at Avocas in Co Wicklow and Co Meath, and stocks a great range of Riedel glasses); or Searsons in Monkstown, in south Co Dublin (for Zaltho glassware).

For Christmas dinner, I like to dust off my decanters, my best wine glasses, my silver wine coaster, and any other accessory I can lay hands on. I find that if even the most modest wine looks better, it invariably tastes better too.

Rosso Piceno DOC, Cantina dei Colli Ripani 2018 (Organic)
13%, €14.95
Supple and rounded, with generous, ripe sour-cherry fruits and a smooth finish. A great all-purpose wine, perfect on its own or with a wide variety of foods, from pizza and tomato-based pasta dishes to chicken and pork.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; Crafted, Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny; Ardkeen Quality Foodstore, Waterford,; Kelly's, Dublin 3,

Delmoro 2018, Viticultores Ambulantes, Valencia
13.5%, €18.95
A mellow rounded crowd-pleasing wine filled with dark fruits and liquorice. There is an attractive rustic touch, and an appealing freshness too. You could drink it solo, but this would go nicely with all sorts of white meats (including cold turkey), ham or chicken.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Co Dublin,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,; Drinkstore, Dublin 7,; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8,; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Listons, Dublin 2,; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7,; Martin's Off Licence, Dublin 3,; Redmonds, Dublin 6,

Delheim sur lie Chardonnay 2016, Stellenbosch
12.5%, €20.95 (down from €26.45)
Rich textured peaches layered with toasted hazelnuts and woodsmoke, with a fine seam of citrus acidity. A very attractive Chardonnay to drink alongside smoked fish and turkey.
From O'Briens,

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV
12%, €55
Floral and elegant, a very fine mousse, and brioche and peaches cut through by clean refreshing lemon zest. An aperitif, or a posh accompaniment to prawns or scallops.
From Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, Co Dublin, and at Avoca, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, and Dunboyne, Co Meath,; Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin,