4 after-dinner drink gift ideas for Father’s Day

Blandy's MadieraIn his essay on gifts, Ralph Waldo Emerson poetically asserted that it is better to give a present that reflects the true spirit of the receiver. “… The rule for a gift… is, that we might convey to some person that which properly belonged to his character, and was easily associated with him in thought,” he wrote.

Father’s Day is a great opportunity to put that concept into action. Why not give Dad the gift of a little extra time to reminisce about fond fatherly memories? There is no better accompaniment for a stroll down memory lane than a fine after-dinner drink.

This Father’s Day present him with a bottle of the good stuff and invite him to loiter after dinner and relish in memories of fatherhood, or at least baby making. Here are four recommendations for lovely evening libations that are bound to conjure fond images. Set the tone for Pops by writing one of your favorite memories on the card, or present him with a bottle that is wrapped in a hand written note that simply says, “Linger.”

Memories of how it all started over a glass of Madeira

Before I had kids, I thought the best part of having kids was the part where we got to make them. I still remember that day and the smell of the nape of her neck; a spirited scent of sun kissed daydreams balanced with unrealized intent.

A glass of Madeira is sure to transport him back to fond memories of how fatherhood began. Like a lover, Madeira has the poignant acidic taste of sweat intertwined with the sweetness of honey. It’s created by inserting grape brandy into the fermenting wine and once made, it rests in the heat, letting the flavors cook together.

The venerable Madeira company, Blandy’s, has four distinct varieties of five year old Madeira ranging from dry to sweet sold for $24 each. While each wine is made with different grapes, they are all aged in the cantiero process where it is stored in oak casks in the hot attic of the family’s lodges in Funchal on the island of Madiera, located about 540 miles off the coast of Portugal.

The driest and highest in acidity, Blandy’s Madeira Sercial, has woody apricot, melon and peach flavors with a long nutty finish. It’s light in color like the sun going down in late summer. The second fortified wine in the lineup, Blandy’s Madeira Verdelho, balances acidity with a little bit of residual sugar. It’s a bit rounder, fuller — full of opportunity. It has floral scents and dried fruit, raisin and butter toffee flavors. Both are typically served slightly chilled in white wine glasses as aperitifs, but they are also great as dessert with an assortment of hard cheeses and Lester Young crooning on old vinyl.

Moving up the sweetness scale, Blandy’s Madeira Bual, has a darker amber color and dried fruit, vanilla and wood scents. The sweet raisin and toffee flavors are balanced with acidity. The sweetest in the batch is Blandy’s Madeira Malmsey. The Malmsey is full bodied, dark brown and full of honeyed raisin and almond flavors. Serve this with dark chocolate cake, a red velvet smoking jacket and Lou Reed on the stereo. Let’s hope you won’t have a new brother or sister in nine months.

Grahm's 20 Year Tawny PortRemembering the firsts with port

There is nothing sweeter than the first time baby coos “dada.” I remember that look in your eyes, that delight on your lips as you stroked my chin and called out to me. I am your dad and you knew it. Nothing will ever compare to that first acknowledged connection. Our bond was forever cemented in that moment.

Bring dad back to the sweetness and simplicity of the baby’s first moments with something equally as stirring and sweet without being overly sugary. Port fits that bill. The classic fortified wine has been revered for centuries for its elegance, hefty structure, complex fruit flavors and round sweetness.

A few ports to consider Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old TawnyCockburn’s Special Reserve Porto, and Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Port. The Warre’s Otima, made by the oldest British port company in Portugal, has a lovely rose and tea tawny color with bright cherry flavors rides on top of a racy alcohol engine. It goes for about $26. The Cockburn’s Special Reserve has crazy ripe fruit, lush, velvety texture and is super charged with attitude for $17. If you are willing to spend a little extra — around $63 — go for Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Port.

Graham’s makes this prototypical, classic port with a wine blend that has been aged an average of 20 years in oak barrels giving it vanilla and almond essence layered on top of the raisin and dried orange peel flavors. Serve it slightly chilled in a classic port or white wine glass big enough to let him stick his nose all the way in to breath in the sensuous aromas. The rich tawny loves creamy dessert. Serve it with vanilla ice cream or crème brûlée for a delightful treat that will go well with memories of early parenthood.

The apprentice besting the teacher calls for gin  

He finally did it. Look at him sitting next to the fire with hot chocolate; his smile as bright as the fresh powder and as broad as the first run was steep. He conquered the double black. He did it with grace. He did it 300 yards in front of me. He’s on the edge of being a man. I can’t put him back in the bottle.  

In every father and child relationship, there comes the moment when the child bests the father in skills that the father has taught. That might come first in video games, move into cards and finally into sports and possibly intellectual pursuits. It can be a father’s greatest joy to see his offspring excel. Well, as long as he is manly enough to accept this as a victory.

Gin is a man’s drink that says accomplishment with every sip. It’s the perfect spirit to accompany memories of the first time she beat her dad in chess. Fortunately for us in Austin, Genius Gin is hitting the shelves of local bars and restaurants this month. CEO and president, Mike Groener, is passionate about aesthetics with a tech exec’s attention to detail. He developed a unique flavor profile for Genius Gin using a cold steep in the base for some of the heat-sensitive botanicals like lavender, angelica root, elder flower and lime leaf for a highly aromatic flavor. Others ingredients like juniper, cardamom and coriander are heated in the distillation to impart flavor.

Dad should have a standard 94 proof gin or a 114 proof Navy Strength gin on hand for Father’s Day dinner. The Old Fashioned has been synonymous with American whisky since the early 1800s. Drink.Well.’s owner and bar wizard, Jessica Sanders, puts her stamp on the Old Fashioned by making it with Genius Gin instead of whiskey, which helps to accent the beautiful cardamom notes of the gin. She shared her recipe so you can make it at home.

Gin-based Old Fashioned

  • 2 ounces Genius Gin
  • .25 ounce fich demerara simple syrup (2:1 ratio)
  • 1-2 dashes Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Orange peel

Express an orange peel over a double old fashioned glass and drop it in to release the essential oils over the glass. Add simple syrup and bitters. Stir to combine. Add Genius Gin and ice (preferably a large cube to slow dilution). Stir gently until chilled and serve.

Angle's Envy Rye WhiskeyCelebrate coming of age with whiskey

Watching you throw your cap into the air was such a shared moment of pride in your accomplishment. You did it! Your graduation night was the first time we ever drank a bottle of whiskey together. That was a moment, a shift in our relationship from father and child to father and grown child taking on the world together.

Whiskey just feels right as an accompaniment to major milestones. Its simplicity, its carmely sweetness, its bracing alcohol burn that reminds you of the flame of life. Treat it with respect and it pays you back with a contented grin.

Angel’s Envy has introduced a limited release Rye whiskey just in time for Father’s Day, and it is available in less than a dozen states, including Texas. Master distiller, Lincoln Henderson, uses 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley and ages the whiskey for at least six years in oak barrels. It is then finished for 18 months in Caribbean rum casks, which began as French cognac barrels. The result is a fun mix of the spicy and earthy rye notes along with vanilla, sherry and hazelnut flavors with a touch of sweetness from the rum barrels.

It’s a smooth finished to dinner, even at 100 proof, so serve it neat or with a set of frozen stones rather than ice. This will set you back about $70, but your dad is worth it.

No matter which bottle you choose or which memory you hope to evoke, give your dad the gift of a little extra time to remember why he loves being a father.

This article was previously published on CultureMap.

Disclosure: Samples were provided for review at no cost and with no expectation of coverage. 

What are you drinking? 

Tis the Season wine list: Top 10 holiday wines, from sparkling to dessert

 Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut

 Co-authored by Jessica Dupuy
Looking for the perfect holiday wine? If you need a little help, and you’re willing to take the advice of two relatively well-informed wine enthusiasts, then look no further than our very own “‘Tis the Season wine list.”

CultureMap contributor Matt McGinnis of WhatAreYouDrinking.net and food editor Jessica Dupuy bring you a short and simple list of 10 wines. Two sparkling wines, two whites, two reds, two dessert whites and two dessert reds.

Matt McGinnis: “If you follow just one guiding principle for selecting wine for your holiday celebrations, by all means make it this one: don’t be a Scrooge. Whether you are hosting guests or celebrating just with your family, the holidays demand that you go the extra mile. You don’t have to be ostentatiously extravagant or break the bank, but don’t skimp on the most important element of your holiday meal, the wine.”

Jessica Dupuy: “McGinnis’ list may appeal to the Champagne and Lace wine lover, but let’s say you’ve got to host a large group of people and don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a crowd who — most likely — doesn’t care what alcohol-infused beverage you put in their hands. Or let’s just say it, you’re like a lot of us Scrooges out there and are just plain cheap, my list is the one for you.”

Sparkling Wine 

McGinnis Picks: Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut Réserve Premier Cru
The first wine you should grab for any holiday occasion is bubbly. Every aspect of opening, pouring, serving and drinking Champagne excites the senses in ways no other wine can. This Christmas, look for a smaller Champagne house that grows its own grapes and produces its own wine. You can find these Champagnes, known as grower-producers, by looking for a tiny “RM” on the label. This is a good short-hand for finding high-quality bubbly without overpaying.

Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut Réserve Premier Cru fits the bill for “party-in-a-bottle.” Once popped open, riotous showers of bubbles race to the top of the glass to form a creamy mousse and the bubbles continue to dance and play on the tongue with aplomb. It fills the nose with walnut, apple and pear with the burst of each festive bubble. The Godmé has toasty bread and bright green apple, ripe strawberries flavors and a jangling citrus zip.

The best way to start off any holiday celebration is a kiss under the mistletoe quickly followed by a toast with lovely Champagne. It’s a perfect mate with soft creamy cheeses, ripe berries and just about any hors d’oeuvre you choose to serve before dinner.

I picked up this lovely bubbly from The Red Room Lounge for $55.

Dupuy Picks: Gruet Rosé Non Vintage
While Matt’s philosophy is certainly altruistic if not a bit showy, there was a time when shelling out a few extra bucks to ensure you could show up to a holiday dinner with a good wine was key. But these days, the global market for wine has been blown wide open with a whole slew of impressive wines on the shelves for under $15. You just have to know how to find them.

Everyone loves a good celebration. And a few bubbles in the bottle is a sure fire way to summon a good time. While the best from the large French Champagne houses or even the most delicate of small production grower-producer Champagnes can be instant show-stoppers, I’d suggest panty dropper. And sparkling wine is no doubt the go-to wine for that. But you’re just as likely to turn heads with a little bubbly from the sandy loam soils of New Mexico.

The Gruet Rosé is bright with flavors of strawberry and raspberry as well as hint of lemon zest and warm limestone. When it comes down to it, it’s really just as sophisticated as the real deal. It doesn’t hurt that the winery was started by a French family in the mid-1980s while looking to make a mark with wine on the American frontier.

You can find Gruett Rosé at Spec’s for about $15.

White Wine

McGinnis Picks: Fritz Haag 2010 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese
Coming to Christmas dinner without a white wine is like going to church without any pants. You just wouldn’t do it. Riesling is among the most food friendly wines on the planet and a sure bet to pair well with almost anything you choose to serve at the holidays. I recommend an ever so slightly sweet Spätlese variety which will accompany savory, spicy and sweet dishes alike.

Here is the second place where you shouldn’t be a cheapskate. Spend a bit more to get a fine German Riesling like the Fritz Haag from the Mosel region. This is an absolutely delightful wine that smells of honeysuckle, ripe pear, baked apples and cotton candy. It has luscious cocktail pears and peaches, honeydew flavors balanced with an electric acidity that makes it sing. It’s great with your salad and appetizer courses.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling is available for $40 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Dupuy Picks: Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay
McGinnis’s shrewd selection of German Riesling for the holidays is certainly noble, but potentially foolish. I’m not about to waste a few drops of precious angel tears on someone who doesn’t appreciate them. And when it comes to holiday celebrations, you are usually running the gamut of wine drinkers who love anything from the oakiest of Rombauer Chardonnays to the most delicate of German Rieslings. I’m in favor of meeting somewhere in the middle.

Offer all the citrus and apple notes that a fine Chardonnay can offer, with an extra boost of minerality from the French region of the Loire Valley. This crisp little wine barely has a kiss of oak, but finds its strength in its acidity, which makes it a great food wine for your average turkey dinner to grilled fish or pork tenderloin.

Whole Foods Market has this wine for only about $10.

Red Wine

McGinnis Picks: 2011 Domaine Chignard Fleurie ‘Les Moriers’
Christmas dinners can be a cacophony of clashing flavors with several brash dishes competing for your tongue’s attention. It’s tough to pair a red wine with diverse dishes like goose, turkey or beef Wellington and Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and Waldorf salad. Beaujolais, made with the Gamay grape, are soft, fruity and versatile enough to go with almost any dish.

The engrossing experience of drinking a Beaujolais cru is a departure from the unfussy toss back of inexpensive Beaujolais Nouveau. It has bold scents of wild strawberries and maraschino cherries. Unlike the Nouveau, it has complexity on top of the fruit-forward juiciness. The sassy cheery cherry and blueberry flavors are balanced with granite minerality, crisp acidity and soft tannins. It is a festive accompaniment to almost anything you choose to serve.

This lovely Beaujolais is among the sumptuous selections of French wine at the Austin Wine Merchant for $25.

Dupuy Picks: Marquee de la Musa Garnacha
True, Beaujolais is an elegant and beautiful choice — and I look forward to joining McGinnis’ holiday dinner to enjoy some. But just as with Riesling, it’s the type of wine that is more on an acquired taste for some than for others. I choose to move to the warmer climate of Spain, specifically to the Cariñena region where Garnacha (Grenache in French) reigns supreme.

Similar to the Gamay grape found in Beaujolais, Garnacha is a thin-skinned grape often used to bring more depth of fruit to blends with a breadth of earthiness and tannin. This wine is light, but with a fair amount of complexity. And as it is a warm climate grape, it lends itself to foods with a little spice — as is fairly typical of holiday dinners in Texas. Smoked pork loin with an apple, cranberry and jalapeño chutney would be ideal for this wine.

You can pick this up at Whole Foods Market for about $9.

White Dessert Wine

Sandeman SherryMcGinnis Picks: Sandeman Royal Corregidor Rich Old Oloroso Sherry 20 Year Old
Sherry is one of the most complex and difficult to produce wines in the world. I could bore you with the intricacies of how it’s made, but suffice to say that if someone shares Sherry with you, it’s because they think you are worth it. That’s reason enough to put it on the holiday table.

The Sandeman aged Oloroso smells as good as a holiday party with roasted candied pralines, almonds and baked pear. It tastes like kissing the gorgeous, foul-mouthed intern in the coat closet at the end of that Christmas party; nutty and bitter mixed with 20-year-old sweetness and the saltiness of a reluctant tear. I can’t imagine another wine combining sweet, bitter and brine in a more pleasurable way.

Back at home, serve it slightly chilled, but not refrigerator cold, in a tulip shaped white wine glass. It is a perfect compliment to the end of a holiday meal. Its rich raisiny sweetness goes well with many traditional holiday deserts like gingerbread, rum cake and chocolate-cherry trifle.

This diminutive 500ml bottle will set you back $20 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Dupuy Picks: King Estate Pinot Gris Ice Wine
While McGinnis is manipulating the intern into the coat closet, I’d rather keep my dessert wines on the classy side. They can be sweet, but more in the vein of angelic seraphim and cherubim rather than tawdry underaged tarts. So I’m going with a lovely little ice wine from Oregon.

The King Estate uses the often mis-represented Pinot Gris grape for this crisp and delicate wine brimming with ripe pear, apricot, peaches and wildflower honey. At only 11 percent alcohol this wine is searingly delicate, but the fragrant aromatics and the higher level of residual sugar will do doubt ensnare your senses. Serve chilled alongside a cornmeal cranberry-orange zest cake and you’ll certainly hear the songs of angels.

Technically, I’m barely shaving a few dollars off the price of his Sherry with my ice wine, but with the difference, you can still do your best to entice the intern with a Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boy — she probably won’t know the difference. You can also find this at Whole Foods Market for about $18.

Red Dessert Wine

Graham's 20 Year Old Tawny PortMcGinnis Picks: Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Porto
Port has always been one of my favorite fortified wines. The Port screams “Happy Holidays!” Drinking Port at Christmas is definitely a British tradition, but it’s getting more and more traction in the states as people are more open to explore fortified wines. This 20 Year Old Tawny has a boozy nose of dried orange peel and figs. Port is always bold and this one doesn’t disappoint. Orange, cherry, leather and cigar cling together in a sweet vanilla present.

When you are all done with your feast having eaten every tidbit of Who-pudding and every morsel of roast beast, sip on this nectar and you won’t have a care in the least. Sit back by the fire and sip a snifter of joy while enjoying visions of sweet fairies dancing, oh boy. It’s just as sad to finish the glass as unwrapping the last present under the tree.

The Austin Wine Merchant has a good selection of Port and this one goes for $50.

Dupuy Picks: Pedernales Cellars Glögg
McGinnis does have me here. I am a sucker for Port. But while he’s savoring his last drop of Tawny, I’ll likely be polishing off the last of the dirty dishes from the Holiday feast. But I’d never leave my guests without something to talk about. Which is why I’m going with something a little unorthodox: a Swedish-inspired wine made from a local Hill Country producer.

Glögg is a seasonal holiday fortified red wine infused with a whole range of spices including cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s typically served warm with a cinnamon stick and handful of raisins or dried cherries tossed in the bottom of the glass — an excellent treat to enjoy when the Glogg is at its end. This velvety red sticky is made in homage to Pedernales Cellars co-founder Fredrik Osterberg who grew up in Sweden and now finds his home among the rolling landscape of the Texas Hill Country. Serve this libation with a handful of Swedish-style ginger snaps and know that you’re not only spreading good cheer but supporting a local producer all at the same time.

Currently Glögg can only be found at the Pedernales Cellars winery in Stonewall for about $19. You can order it online and still probably stay under the price of McGinnis’ Port.

This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

What are you drinking?