If you have a wine lover on your gift list, then hopefully this column will make your life a little bit easier. I’ve been asked to do a gifts for wine lovers column for several years, but I’ve always resisted. It's too easy to throw a bunch of generic gift suggestions out there and not care much about whether a wine lover will really like them or not. It’s much harder to try to find specific gift suggestions, wine related things that I would like to have, that I hope other wine lovers would really appreciate.
Well this year I caved to the pressure, so here are my all too well researched suggestions for gifts for wine lovers. By the way, anyone who has been waiting to give me a gift because they didn’t know what I wanted, feel free to gift me with anything on this list.
Wine related gifts fall into five categories, wine, glassware, accessories (I’m including gadgets in this category), storage (that would be racks, refrigerators, cellars, etc.) and books. I’m going to suggest gifts in only in the accessories category, but I’ll comment later on the other four.
Ravi Wine Chiller: This is a clever gadget I ran into while researching gifts for this column. It is a silver tube about 3 inches long and an inch or so in diameter. You keep this thing in your freezer until you need it. Then when you open a bottle of wine, you stick this gadget in the bottle like a cork and pour the wine through it. As the wine passes through the tube it is chilled. Cost: About $35. If no one gives me one of these, I’m going to buy one.
Screwpull Lever Pull with Foil Cutter: This is one of those lever style corkscrews that I have resisted buying (but I appear to be the only one on the planet without one). This is probably the simplest and most easy to use of all of the many kinds of corkscrews. You clamp it on the bottle, move the lever down and back up and the cork is out. Move the lever down and back up again and it ejects the cork. It also has a foil cutter. The thing that attracts me to this particular brand and model is the design. It’s not as large or awkward as some of the designs, which has always been my major complaint. Cost: About $150.
Arvind Group Thermal Champagne Bucket: Even if you don’t drink much Champagne, you need a Champagne bucket. I use mine all the time to chill or maintain the chill on white wine (especially on the patio) and to bring down the temperature of a too-warm red wine. This is an attractive bucket, as Champagne buckets go, but its real attraction for me is that it is double walled. That means it won’t sweat all over the table when filled with ice and water. Cost: About $75.
Insulated 2-Bottle Wine Tote: These things are really handy, and another of the accessories that gets a lot of use at my house. It seems I’m always taking wine somewhere and this is the best way to do it. Not only does it maintain the temperature, it also stops all that clanking that wine bottles do in paper bags. There are two models that I like: one from CC Home Furnishings that is faux suede and another from Brunello that is made from Neoprene fabric. About $30 an $20 respectively.
Bottle Coasters: These are essential if you are a red wine drinker. No matter how successful you are at pouring wine without dripping it on the table, some of those abated drips are now running down the side of the bottle and end up where ever you sit it down. Wine bottle coasters keep you tables and table clothes from getting stained (not to mention your light colored granite counter tops). Again I’ve selected two models, the first is the Jakob Wagner Bottle Coaster (set of two) which has a clean, modern design. The second is the Michael Aram by Waterford which is much more formal. Cost: About $40 and $90 respectively.
Painted Wine-Glass Charms from the Original That Wine is Mine collection: You can’t have too many of these things (literally). These are tiny little charms that you fasten to the stem of your wine glass at a party so you can keep track of which glass is yours. (My secret is that I never put my glass down.) These are a wine motif but come in about every imaginable motif you might want. Cost: About $15.
Cork Jester’s Wine Teasers: This is something like a wine trivia game, but there’s more to it. Wine Teasers combines questions, hints and the occasional diabolical maneuver to make learning about wine fun. Yes, its educational, but buy it anyway. Cost: about $13.
I found all of the items at Amazon.com and have put links to each on my blog at www.virtualwineknow.com/. Look for Wine Accessories under Gifts for Wine Lovers.
As for gifts in the other four categories. Here are a few comments. Glassware is always an appreciated gift, but some wine lovers are going to be more particular than others. If you decide to buy glassware, go to my blog at www.virtualwineknow.com/ and read the tutorial on stemware before you go shopping. You should be able to buy acceptable glassware for between $10 and $15 per stem. There’s also an area on my blog where you can see stemware that I recommend.
Buying a bottle of wine for someone who knows something about wine is pretty risky, even if you’re willing to spend a lot of money. Tastes vary and your wine lover might not like the Pinot Noir that Wine Spectator gave 98 points. Wine books have the same set of pitfalls, it will just a less expensive dust catcher. Wine racks, refrigerators and cellars are the kinds of things that your wine lover is going to want to select for themselves.
I wish you a safe and joyful holiday season!