A guide to Texas booze gifts to put under the tree
Look, it happens. Despite your best efforts, you’ve got only a couple days left to find holiday gifts for the remaining hard-to-buy-for people on your list. But don’t stress about it — there’s an easy solution if you know they like visiting breweries, tasting fun wine vintages or breaking out the good whiskey on special occasions.
Snag for them one of these boozy Texas products, sure to make their holidays extra merry. Maybe they’ll share with you. (And, hey, if you want to hoard any of the bottles or cans for yourself to make it through all the family times ahead, that’s OK, too.)
Wine and done
Texas is an emerging wine region that has some truly exciting vintages worth a place on any wine rack. These aren’t your California cabernets or Argentina malbecs — they stand out in their own way.
• William Chris Vineyards 2017 Mourvedre High Plains ($34): Texas winemakers have developed an affinity for certain grapes they believe do best in Texas’ hot climate. The forward-thinking William Chris swears by the full-bodied red varietal of mourvedre, which in this case bursts with fresh berry notes and finishes with a bold fennel accent.
• Lost Draw Vineyards 2017 Pinot Meunier ($28): The Fredericksburg winery has taken its first dive into the vast sea of sparkling wine with this single-varietal bottle that is perfect for New Year’s Eve toasts. Pinot meunier is one of the three main grapes used in Champagne, lending it richness and body. In this effervescent sparkler, the black grape proves it can take center stage.
William Chris Vineyards wine is available at the winery (10352 U.S. 290, Hye) and at local retailers, such as Central Market and Twin Liquors. Find the Lost Draw wine at its Fredericksburg tasting room (113 E. Park St., Fredericksburg). (There also are a limited number of other Lost Draw wines under the Arroyo label available in stores like Total Wine & More.)
Beers to cheers with
There’s never been a better time to be a craft beer connoisseur in Texas. Breweries are focused on making sought-after styles such as juicy IPAs and funky, food-friendly farmhouse ales, to name just two.
• Vista Brewing Grato Wine-Barrel Aged Lambic-Style Ale with Italian Plums ($15): “Horse blanket, biscuit and wood” might not sound like things you’d want to taste in beer, but those are often the tasting notes of a funky lambic-style beer like this one. Dried fruit also is in evidence. Grato is just one of several sterling new releases at Vista, and one of the most limited, to boot.
• Austin Beerworks Sputnik Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout ($10.99): Is canned beer worthy of being under the Christmas tree? In this case, there’s no question. Heavy on the coffee this year, Sputnik remains one of the local brews that sends even casual fans scurrying to track it down. Midnight-hued, it’s dry but dessertlike, downright divine after every holiday dinner.
Vista beers are sold at Spec’s, Central Market and Whichcraft Taproom & Bottle Shop, in addition to the Hill Country tasting room (13551 FM 150, Driftwood). Sputnik can be picked up at the Austin Beerworks taproom (3001 Industrial Terrace) and at various stores around town, including H-E-B.
Kentucky remains the undisputed king of American bourbon, but Texas is making its mark via unconventional whiskeys that often age faster than tradition dictates given our hot climate. They might not have Pappy’s cachet, but they’re getting good enough to hoard in their own right.
• Milam & Greene Triple Cask Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($42.99): Making whiskey grain-to-glass is a philosophy that craft distillers have latched onto. Milam & Greene’s flagship bourbon is a reminder there are other ways to make whiskey — notably, by batching whiskey from multiple sources. Make no mistake, says the Blanco brand’s CEO, that the velvety bourbon is very Texan.
• Still Austin Whiskey’s High-Rye Bourbon ($45): It might be too late to snag a tasting room-only bottle of the urban distillery’s Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon. A worthy replacement is Still Austin’s main offering. Despite its relative youth, the bourbon has well-developed notes of allspice and cinnamon and a perhaps surprisingly long finish.
Milam & Greene’s bourbon — as well as a rye counterpart — is easy to find at local shops, including Twin Liquors, Austin Wine Merchant and the Austin Shaker. So are Still Austin products: A map on the whiskey website shows all the stores they are stocked at.