Hygge, pronounced “hue-geh,” is a Danish word that is for Scandinavians simply a way of life. It is the act of being present, slowing down, and finding cozy moments of joy, contentment, and calm, every day.
This holiday season, we might do extra well to embrace the Nordic way. We are staying close to home, our gatherings are smaller, and it is ever important to rejoice in the little pleasures life offers. Let us consider wine a muse of hygge, and what better time than now to give the gift of wine?
One need not be an expert in wine to make a good wine purchase. When buying wine as a gift, try to keep in mind whom you are buying for. Surprise them with a synonym wine—a wine made with their favorite varietal, from an entirely different country. Or put together a selection of wines with a theme: four wines from around the globe made with the same grape, for example, or wines from a single region or country. Perhaps create a vertical selection, exploring one wine through a range of different vintages, or a horizontal selection, which studies a range of wines from the same vintage.
Getting to know your retailer is key, as curating a wine program is an extension of the narrative the wine buyer is developing. This is your best resource. Much of our purchasing is being done online these days, and retailers have moved to “virtual hospitality” in an effort to continue to engage creatively and passionately with customers by way of colorful websites and personalized subscription options.
Many retailers have expanded their delivery far beyond their locale. Two of note, both of which have ties to the North Shore, are Bauer Wine & Spirits on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay and Gordon’s, which has one store in Boston and four additional stores in the Greater Boston area.
Bauer Wine & Spirits
Howie Rubin is the longtime general manager at Bauer Wine & Spirits, which is under new ownership, the result of which has been a magical influx of hard-to-allocate, high-profile wines from around the Globe. Rubin started at Bauer back in the 1980s, and living in Lynn, would make deliveries to the North Shore. Here is a sample of Rubin’s holiday selections from the new inventory:
For the Novice
+ 2011 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile, Alsace, France $80
+ 2017 Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley, California $125
For the Hobbyist
+ 2018 Blanc de Lynch, Bages Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle, Bordeaux, France $100
+ 2018 Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus, Priorat, Spain $130
For the Connoisseur
+ 2017 Domaine de Montille Corton-Charlemagne, Burgundy, France $250
+ 2015 Ulysses Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, California $200
Chelsea Bell is from Gloucester, and is the director of marketing and events for Gordon’s. With Gordon’s wine director Ian Halbert, she launched CruBox Wine Club in November, a separate entity within Gordon’s. The goal is to broaden the scope of their customer base, with a focus on inspiring a younger demographic. What’s inside the box is a monthly themed subscription, with a Zoom tasting, which Chelsea leads. For $125 per box, her December wines will feature a study of Italy and come with tasting notes and stories about the wineries and winemakers:
+ 2018 Vietti Timorasso Derthona Colli Tortonesi, Piedmont
+ 2019 Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Sicily
+ 2019 Occhipinti SP68 Rosso, Sicily
+ 2017 San Fereolo Dogliani Dolcetto Vigne Dolci, Piedmont
Lighthouse Wine & Spirits
The Beverly wine, liquor, and beer store has shared some of their favorite picks this holiday season, with prices ranges for every budget. They've even added some options for the rosé lovers.
+ NV Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling, Anderson Valley, California $25
An affordable gem from Champagne House Louis Roederer, this sparkling is from California. It's lively and yeasty with a persistent mousse.
+ 2018 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley California $80
Liquid gold, this chardonnay has a brilliant acidity with a luscious opulence, from a single vineyard site.
+ 2018 Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma California $20
This wine is easy drinking, classic and familiar, bright and welcoming.
+ 2017 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley California $80
Worth the splurge from this reputable estate, this pick is stately and rich with deep red fruit and notes of mocha and chocolate.
+ 2018 The Prisoner Red Blend, Napa Valley California $36
This red is a ripe blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Charbono, with a nice integrated tannins, deep plum and fig jam notes.
This holiday season, I will celebrate sparkling wine, which is made all over the world, in a multitude of styles. Champagne, that pedigreed darling, is only Champagne if it is made in the region of Champagne in France, with varietals Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The wild-child category of “pét-nat” sparkling wine continues to gain momentum. Slightly sparkling, unfiltered and thus hazy, these wines are made with a minimal-intervention approach, and are ripe for exploration.
+ NV Champagne Deutz was a new discovery this year, and a charmer.
A classic blend, it is timeless—rich, pure, expressive. Every nuance lingers. $55
Available at: thecheeseshopofsalem.com, Salem; seaviewfarmandfarmstand.com, Rockport; denrockwine.com, North Andover
+ 2017 I Clivi sparkling Ribolla Gialla from Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy is graceful, lithe, and dear to my heart. It showcases beauty in discretion. $28
Available at: seaandcellar.com, Rockport; seaviewfarmandfarmstand.com, Rockport; lucillewineshop.com, Lynn; rmacraftbeer.com, Amesbury
+ 2019 Mother Rock Force Celeste is a pét-nat rosé made with Pinotage and Colombard, offering a zippy mélange of citrus and roses. A sparkling wine to contemplate, from the Western Cape of South Africa. $30
+ 2002 Drappier Carte D’Or Champagne is the epitome of elegance. This vintage Champagne from a prestigious house is rich, robust, and graceful. $100
Available at: lighthousewines.com, Beverly