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What to buy the winelover who has everything
Some of the most difficult people to buy presents for are serious wine collectors. Unless you have a cellar of your own from which to pluck a suitable bottle it’s quite hard to find something that will ring their bell (obscure sweet wines and sherries, I generally find, being the best bets)
An alternative approach is to select something edible - or drinkable - that involves a degree of connoisseurship to engage their interest such as coffee, olive oil, cheese or chocolate.
A brilliant present if you’re feeling flush would be a year’s subscription to a scheme which sends you goodies regularly during the year. My top pick would be the Roastmaster’s Selection from Union Hand Roasted (who used to call themselves Union Coffee Roasters) who will send two packs a month with accompanying notes and even food pairing suggestions! I’ve known the guys who run it - Jeremy Torz and Steven Macatonia - since they set up their first micro-roastery in the early '90s and have been a big fan of theirs ever since. If you don’t want to spend that much or need a more tangible gift you can buy their coffees in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose (and other supermarkets for all I know)
For artisanal cheese I would head to the Fine Cheese Company in Bath which again runs a monthly subscription scheme. It’s now past their Christmas deadline but you could order a delivery for January, a nice treat when all the Christmas fun and feasting is over. A monthly ‘class’, as they describe it costs £32.50, post and packing included. You also get a box of their very elegant crackers (biscuits not Christmas crackers!)
If you want to buy a single cheese the cheese this Christmas is Stichelton, a new unpasteurised version of Stilton, made the traditional way. You can buy it from Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden and Borough Market and from other good cheese shops and cheese counters (I spotted it in Fortnum & Mason the other day)
A classy bottle of olive oil also makes a good present. Or you could buy two or three from different countries or regions to compare. For a wine lover it might be intriguing to have a selection of oils from different wine estates such as Morgenster in South Africa or Planeta in Sicily, which I'm amazed to find you can now buy on Amazon. Or again there are online options such as Oil & More
Finally, chocolate. Apart from William Curley, whose seductive shop I wrote about the other day I’d head for Rococo which makes the most fabulous chocolate bars (the dark chocolate and cardamom is my favourite) They have three London shops in King’s Road, Chelsea, Marylebone High Street and Motcomb Street in Belgravia and you can buy a limited selection from Waitrose and from other independent shops such as the Algerian Coffee Stores in Old Compton Street (another fun place to shop). I also like their ‘Dinner Party Boxes', especially the Wild Boar Box which is full of fresh cream truffles. A fun present to take any host over the holiday period.
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