Gut Check Visits Garland Wine's Open House

Dec 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm
click to enlarge Give a gift of grapes at Garland Wines - Erika Miller
Erika Miller
Give a gift of grapes at Garland Wines
December has arrived in full force with blustery winds and twinkling Christmas lights, which means it's time for Gut Check to curl up inside the International Headquarters with a bottle of Oban and the new Péter Nádas novel for holiday gift-giving. Liquor is always the right size, but if a bottle of Captain topped with a bow won't cut it, let the folks at Garland Wines (11 South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-961-9463) help you pick out the perfect wine during its annual holiday open house this weekend.

Garland Wines has hosted a holiday open house and wine tasting for over two decades. This year's event, which began Thursday night and continues today from 3-9 p.m. and tomorrow from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., features a tasting of more than twenty wines, special prices on select bottles and cases and a display of wine gifts to peruse. Garland Wines has also put together a gift catalog filled with top picks for presents.

The wines available for tasting include reds, whites and bubbly from around the world. Tasters are handed a sheet to take notes and place orders, while Garland's knowledgeable staff is available to answer questions and share anecdotes about the wines and their origins.

According to owner Dan Garland, the wines featured during the event are a mix of new selections and bottles the store hasn't cracked open in a while. "Since wine changes in the bottle, a wine we've featured before can still surprise a lot of people," Garland says.

click to enlarge Gut Check Visits Garland Wine's Open House
Erika Miller
Always eager to impress without dipping into the retirement fund, Gut Check headed straight for three wines priced under $15 per bottle: the 2010 Fabiano pinot grigio from Italy ($13.50); the 2010 Bacalhoa JP Azietao red blend from Portugal ($14.75); and a full-bodied 2010 Coastal Vines cabernet sauvignon from Sonoma ($13.50).

(If you are feeling generous, pick up a bottle of what Garland calls "medalists," top shelf wines from the store's main wineries. "These are the higher priced wines people like to give as gifts," Garland explains.)

New to the holiday event this year are customizable fruit baskets: Choose a wine or two and have it wrapped up with fresh fruit. You can also put together wine baskets with chocolates, popcorn or cheese, not to mention all manner of bits and baubles to decorate your wine gifts.

Gut Check's Take?

For those on a bargain hunt, the Balcahoa JP Azietao red table wine from Portugal is a hard-to-find gem at a great price. It's smooth, light and easy to drink -- and at this price, you can grab an extra case as a present to yourself.

Garland Wines (11 South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-961-9463) Holiday Open House: Friday, December 2, 3-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.