Column: Holiday gift bottles for red drinkers

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Commentary by Elizabeth Morse

December brings with it a host of special holiday events. From neighborhood open houses and office parties to New Year’s Eve, it’s best to have a little something in hand for your host. The three red wines I’m recommending are all bottles I’d be happy to receive. Starting at well under $20, there is an appropriate selection for any occasion.

A fun little Italian wine, Olianas 2017 Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, comes in at $13ish and isn’t one you’ll find everywhere. I always enjoy a wine that’s a bit obscure because it implies that the giver has put a bit more effort into selecting it. This one isn’t going to be in the 15-case display inside your wine shop. It will impress with rich, bold flavors like chocolate, fragrant tobacco and hints of myrtle berries (menthol). A big mouthful of silky red wine.

For a fancy affair, seek out 2015 Franky Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. With 86 percent Cab juice and about 10 percent Merlot, this beauty smells like black currants and strong coffee. It’s got a solid tannic structure but the tannins themselves are subtle and feminine. In the mouth, you’ll get flavors of bramble fruit, ripe black cherries and cocoa with a gorgeous spicy finish that won’t quit ($55).

My most recent wine crush (pardon the pun) is another California wine from St. Helena in Napa Valley. 2015 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc makes a statement. What it says is, “I’m a very structured and concentrated wine, with firm tannins.” Each sip grips you with dark berries, tarragon, chervil and scads of chocolate and leather. This lovely is a big mouthful that stands up nicely to heavier holiday fare ($65). Worth. Every. Penny.

Elizabeth Morse owned the Corner Wine Bar in Broad Ripple for nearly 20 years. She is a graduate of IU, is a Hoosier chef, food writer, wine guru and Hamilton County Master Gardener who believes in supporting all things local. Morse has been a resident of Hamilton County for more than a decade. Check out her blog: schlepicurean.com.

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