ICYMI, 2020 has been a doozy. Add a little extra cheer to this tough year with our boozy gift recommendations.
Champagne is an obvious choice to celebrate the festive season, and family-owned Billecart-Salmon is known for producing some of the most elegant and best value champagne out there. This year, they’ve debuted a new eco-friendly gift box ($265) made in Northern Europe that includes the iconic brut rosé, grand cru blanc de blancs and a unique brut sous bois cuvée which is entirely vinified in oak and composed of all three Champenoise grape varietals. The gift box itself is understated yet luxurious, a perfect match for the bottles within. Solvent-free dye and 100% recycled cardboard has never been this chic.
Proceeds from the 2017 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Spoto Family Wines will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, and the wine is a beauty. Aged for 34 months in custom made Tonnellerie Leroi French oak barrels, the wine comprises nearly 90% cabernet sauvignon from the historic Oakville Station vineyard with small amounts of cabernet franc, merlot and malbec rounding out the luscious blend. The full bodied wine has fragrant notes of cassis and black cherry and is a great match for homemade ravioli, which the Sicilian Spoto family makes every year. Only four barrels, or 100 cases, were produced.
The Wilamette Valley may be best known for pinot noir, but the region’s best kept secret is that their chardonnay is equally world-class, rivaling the best in Burgundy. 00 Wines is a prime example, with savory and sophisticated wines that balance mouthwatering fruit with racy minerality. 20% of the proceeds from their Somm Six Pack ($450) are donated to the United Sommeliers Foundation, established during the COVID-19 crisis to provide financial assistance to professional sommeliers in need.
Argyle Winery has been a pioneer of champagne-method sparkling wine in the United States since 1987 and much of the reason Oregon’s Willamette Valley is now home to such exquisite bubbles. Each year, Argyle gives three scholarships to students at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and each student creates a label reflective of their interpretation of Argyle for the year’s vintage. Purchase the limited edition Art of Sparkling three-bottle gift set ($100) featuring their artwork to support the next generation of American artists.
Based in Fennville, Michigan, Virtue Cider is a great day trip from Chicago. This year for the holidays, they’re releasing a limited edition dry rosé cider made from heirloom apples and rare Schaerbeek cherries that benefits World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit founded by Chef José Andrés that provides meals for communities affected by natural disasters and crises like COVID-19. Rosalita is priced at $100 per bottle, with 100% of the profits benefitting WCK. We recommend pairing Rosalita with soft cheeses, hearty fall salads, roast chicken and turkey.
This limited edition acacia single cask whiskey ($99) is a Chicago-exclusive, hand-selected by the spirits team at Binny’s. There are only 276 bottles avaialble and the Irish single malt whiskey has been aged for 14 years in acacia wood barrels. The acacia wood imparts delicate floral notes, along with flavors of cinnamon apples, toasted oak and toffee for a balance of sugar and spice, with a hint of vanilla lingering on the finish.
Kelleher Family Vineyards makes this special Cabernet Sauvignon ($570 for a three-pack) in loving memory of their daughter and sister, Bari, from a coveted parcel of land in Oakville with vines planted more than a decade ago. Only 80 cases of the 2013 vintage were produced, and 10% of sales are donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The plush cabernet has notes of black currant accented by cedar and dried rosemary and pairs beautifully with lamb and osso buco.
Drinks by Dram specializes in creating spirit-filled advent calendars and tasting sets, so if you know what somebody’s favorite spirit is, you can give them an opportunity to explore new favorites. With their tequila and mezcal collection ($58.12), celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a different agave spirit each day, from boutique producers to world-renowned brands. Each day, there’s a new 30ml wax-sealed dram to discover.
The Great Brain Cell Sacrifice is a partnership between Lieu Dit Winery and celebrated Santa Barbara winemaker, Justin Willett. For every bottle purchased ($28-$35), a book is donated by Books for Kids to a child in need. Right now, the collection includes a chenin blanc, pinot noir and rosé of pinot noir. Sign up for the wine club, to receive 6 or 12 bottles quarterly and help a child start their own home library. Drinking has never felt so generous.
West Town’s District Brew Yards brewery collective has launched their second annual beer advent calendar ($85). Each package features 24 different beers from Around the Bend, Bold Dog, Casa Humilde and Burnt City in a specially marked box, so you can punch out the top and follow along with the daily reveals on Instagram @brewyards. There’s no delivery available, but beer advent boxes can be picked up Tuesday, November 17 through Sunday, November 22.
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- 30 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This November
- World Kindness Day: 13 Simple Acts of Kindness to Make Someone’s Day
Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate, and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.