We are fully engaged in the Christmas season, so now is a great time to start thinking about what to get for that wine lover on your list. You can take the easy way and buy a bottle or two of wine, or you can find something fun, interesting, unusual and Northwest in style.
No. 1: Float. Westport Winery in Aberdeen has come out with one of the most unusual bottles of wine we've seen. It's called "Float," and it's a fortified dessert wine in a bottle shaped like a Japanese glass float. Cost is $50. Hurry if you want this because the winery is hand-bottling these as fast as it can to keep up with the flood of orders. Call 360-648-2224.
No. 2: Personalized wine. Northwest Cellars in Kirkland will make a customized wine label for you and put it on its award-winning wines. If you want Northwest Cellars to design the label, there is a one-time $85 setup fee, plus the cost of the wine ($14 to $33 per bottle, depending on the wine). Or you can design your own label and avoid the extra fee. There is no minimum order. Turnaround time is about a week. For more information, call 866-421-9463.
No. 3: Helicopter wine tour. Flying M Air offers helicopter winery tours around Wenatchee, Quincy and George, visiting such wineries as Martin-Scott, Beaumont, Malaga Springs and Cave B. Flying M can take up to three passengers at a time, with a two-person minimum. Cost starts at $95 per person. Call 928-231-0196.
No. 4: Wine barrel furniture. Northwest craftsmen are converting used wine barrels into all kinds of furniture, including bar stools, benches, coat racks, tables and Adirondack chairs. Don Redman of Mannina Cellars (509-200-2366) in Walla Walla makes Adirondacks, and Vinoture in Montana (vinoture.net) makes a wide range of items.
No. 5: Chocolate wine. Wine purists might cringe, but chocolate lovers will rejoice at a wine brand called Chocolate Shop, owned by Precept Wines in Seattle. The chocolate-flavored wine comes in three styles: red, strawberry and creme de cocoa. The wines are sold nationwide and cost $12 to $15 per bottle. Call 206-267-5252.
No. 6: Spirited Apple Wine. For something unusual and regional, check out Finnriver Farm & Cidery on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. For the holidays, it has released its Spirited Apple Wine, a wine made with organic Washington apples and fortified with apple brandy. It's a dessert wine, and cost per bottle is $25. Finnriver is near Chimacum, 10 miles south of Port Townsend. Call 360-732-6822.
No. 7: Personal wine-of-the-month club. Here is a way to cater to a friend or family member's wine interests and share your knowledge at the same time: Create a personal wine-of-the-month club. Select a wine from your cellar, write a one-page note about why you picked it out and maybe even offer a couple of food-pairing thoughts. Wrap it and put it under the tree, along with a note explaining that you will select a wine each month for the next year. The recipient will be delighted by the personal nature and thoughtfulness. This works best if you live near the recipient, as shipping across state lines can be a pain.
No. 8: Wine club membership. Does the personalized idea sound like too much work? Buy a one-year membership to a wine club from your favorite winery. Depending on the winery, your recipient might receive wine monthly or quarterly. Look for wineries that produce wines specifically for club members if you want to provide a gift that will reach their inner geekiness. Chateau Ste. Michelle, for example, produces limited-release wines primarily for wine club members, as does Barnard Griffin. And many wineries offer benefits to wine club members that include special parties, exclusive tastings and other events. Costs vary depending on the winery.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.