Bottles (and other drink paraphernalia) for holiday giving
Tenuta I Collazzi Toscana IGT 2007. "Super Tuscan" might sound like a vino superhero, but it's really just an Italian wine made in Tuscany from grapes that aren't traditional to the region. After tasting the deep blueberry fruit, profound depth, and spicy balance in this Toscana, however, I'd happily nominate the winemaker at Tenuta I Collazzi to represent the Justice League's Cantina. This is the kind of luxury wine that's so obviously buff and luscious, it should come with a cape. Instead, it comes with an $18 discount in Pennsylvania, which, for vino this buonissimo, is heroic enough. ($29.99, code 32348 in Pennsylvania.)
Louis Latour Meursault Chateau de Blagny 1er cru 2008. There is a precious luster to the golden glow of a great Burgundy white - and this premier cru 2009 Meursault from Latour's Chateau de Blagny has it. There's more than enough richness to say "luxury chardonnay," but also so much bright life here in every sip - a smack of citrus, a zing of minerals, a long and lingering hum on the lips - that it demands to be drunk with food, and in turn makes a good meal shine brighter. It isn't often such a great bottle gets discounted by a third (in this case, $22 off list), but this one is the real deal. ($39.99, code 32321 in Premium Collection stores.)
The Oxford Companion to Beer. What kind of beer to pair with Stilton? (Imperial Stout.) Do you know your Herkules from your Hersbrucker Spät? (They're both German hops.) You will once you've perused the encyclopedia god's gift to the beer geek, The Oxford Companion to Beer. Edited by author and Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, this tome provides more than 1,100 entries on everything from "abbey beers" to "zymurgy" (the science of fermentation by yeast), with articles on style, innovators, barleys, and breweries, and should fast become the definitive go-to masterwork on the subject of America's current drinking obsession. (Garrett Oliver, $65, Oxford University Press.)
Special-edition Laphroaigs. If you're as transfixed by the peat-smoked savor of a classic single-malt Scotch from Islay as I am, you'll want to taste either one of these special-edition bottlings from Laphroaig. First-timers will love the ambered toffee and nutty richness that sherry barrels lend to Laphroaig's quarter-cask whiskey in the Triplewood. The Cairdeas, meanwhile, is a purist's take, selected slow-aging whiskies least-affected by the wood. This year's vintage is minty, light, and beguiling. (Laphroaig Cairdeas Ileach Edition 2011, $59.99, code 30819; Laphroaig Triplewood, $59.99, code 30874, both available online in Pennsylvania at www.
Whiskey Stones. For a chill on your Scotch that doesn't water the good stuff down, here's a clever innovation that gives new meaning to "on the rocks." Some rocks. That's right, these "whiskey stones" are carved from soft dark Vermont soapstone, and will bring your booze to just the right temp without imparting any off-flavors or diluting the proof. Three per glass can do the trick in five minutes flat. Only ice-chewers need beware. ($19.99, Art in the Age, 114-20 S. 13th St., 215-922-2600.)
- Craig LaBan, Inquirer food critic