All I want for Christmas is to be Ina Garten, but something tells me that the elves won't pull through on that one this year. In the meantime, I'll be in my kitchen wearing a denim shirt, working my way through Cook Like a Pro, and buying an endless supply of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt — because the closest thing to being Ina, is dressing like her, cooking like her, and shopping like her, of course.
Since Ina is on the road spreading the word about her long-awaited 11th cookbook, we got a chance to chat with her about all the ways that she's getting into the holiday spirit — shopping included. Here are a few things that Ina wants to get (and give) this year, so that you can channel the Barefoot Contessa while checking off your holiday gift list.
What Ina Loves to Get
When I asked Ina what one thing she'd love to be on the receiving end of this holiday season, she said, "A bottle of really good Sauternes*! That's always my favorite gift, but it's only for special occasions. The best one is Chateau D'Yquem, but I mean, it's incredibly expensive. So if I find a half a bottle somewhere that's not [too bad], I might serve it for an anniversary or birthday or something like that."
If you've got money to burn: Chateau D'Yquem, $850 at Drizly
*Sauternes is a sweet, white wine made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes, which are affected with a benevolent fungus called "noble rot." The formation of noble rot during the growing process is how this particular wine gets its stone fruity, nutty, honey-kissed flavor. It's named after the Sauternais region of France, which is 25 miles southeast of Bordeaux. And finally, my favorite fun fact: Ina isn't alone in her passion for this specific kind of Sauternes. She's in good company with former President George Washington, who supposedly ordered a case of 30 bottles after first tasting Chateau d'Yquem.
How to Get It on a Budget
Aye, therein lies the rub: Ina's coveted Sauternes is a little more than really nice. It's really, really, really nice. (Read: Bottles range in price from $250 to $1,000!) While we all love a good splurge every now and then, I think it's safe to say that's prohibitively expensive for most of us. So I consulted Associate Food Editor, Sheela Fiorenzo, who also happens to be Kitchn's resident wine expert, for a few Sauternes recs that are more wallet-friendly.
1. Chateau Climens Sauternes, from $70 per bottle at Drizly
This vineyard grows 100 percent Semillon grapes and uses organic herbal teas, like Chamomile, Cypress, and Juniper Berry, during the growing process to stave off diseases that could hurt grape production. It's recommended that you pair this bottle with roasted chicken. (We recommend Ina's roast chicken.)
2. Chateau Guiraud Sauternes, from $37 per bottle at Drizly
According to Sheela, this specific Sauternes is made at a winery neighboring Ina's favorite, which means it would have a similar "terroir." That's a fancy way of saying that the growing conditions (like the weather, soil, humidity, etc.) will impart similar flavor characteristics on the grapes as they mature.
3. Chateau Coutet Sauternes, from $47 per bottle
The estate where this wine is grown dates back to the 13th century and started producing Sauternes full time in 1643. At one point in its history, the winery was owned by the same family that owned Chateau d'Yquem.
What Ina Loves to Give
For all those cooks on your list, Ina recommends giving them the gift of good technique — in the form of Wüsthof knives. "They're what I use. And they're pretty expensive but they last a lifetime. That's why I say, ask for one as a gift or buy one at a time."
Start with the basics: This two-piece set comes with a paring knife and chef's knife made of forged stainless steel. As Ina says, these last a lifetime, as long as they're taken care of.
How to Get It on a Budget
Ina understands that these are a little on the pricey side — and for that, she has an alternate suggestion. "You can go to any restaurant supply store. The knives are really good and restaurants all over the country are using them with great success."
This budget-friendly option is the knife of choice for many fine-dining establishments and culinary classes across the country — which is a testament to its functionality. And it's available on Amazon — with Prime shipping — so you don't even have to get in your car.