Nearly everyone has someone in their circle of holiday gift-giving friends who enjoys wine. It would be my guess that you have fretted over what holiday gift to buy for that person. To further complicate the matter, you may or may not even know their favorite style of wine. In that case, buying a bottle isn’t always the best option. Therefore, the dilemma before you is… what do you buy?
Let me see if I can help. As a wine person and one who, it’s been said, is a challenge to buy for, what follows are some items that I would enjoy receiving.
Customized or personalized wine glasses: If you’re a wine person, you can never have too many wine glasses. However, a couple of caveats apply. As one who enjoys wine, I prefer glasses with a cut edge lip, not a rolled edge. A cut-edge glass is usually more delicate and, with the straight edge, less apt to drip. However, the rolled edge glass is usually sturdier and less likely to break. Either style can be engraved with a monogram, a last name, or maybe a favorite sports team. A medium-sized tulip design could be used for either red or white wine, and the person would think of you each time they were used.
Glass charms (something you put around the stem of a glass at a party so you remember which glass is yours): This idea may be a bit hokey, but if you find a set of glass charms with a Cubs theme and your friend is a Cubs fan, you will score a major run or two. For the skier, a set of charms that is made up of ski paraphernalia will be a hit. You get the idea!
Wine Stoppers: While we are talking about bottle things, there are all sorts of bottle stoppers out there with a wide assortment of designs and figures. For me, I use a set of silicon corks to seal the bottle in case I don’t finish it in one night, and they work great. There are options to fit any budget and taste.
Corksicle: The Corksicle is a cute little invention that is used primarily for white wines. It is a narrow rod that you store in the freezer until it’s needed. You insert the Corksicle into an opened bottle to keep the wine chilled. I don’t think it would cool a warm bottle, but it would certainly keep a bottle of chilled white wine cooler longer. This is perfect gift for the person who likes picnics, taking a bottle of wine to the arboretum on Sunday nights for music, or loves to enjoy wine on the patio with friends.
Decanters: Decanters are a wonderful gift idea, and quite useful since they help a wine breathe before serving. They can be as plain and simple as a vase-like glass bottle or as intricate as a blown glass decanter shaped like a swan. If you know someone who often drinks older wine, a decanter would be a lovely gift.
Wine Glass and Bottle Caddy: I saw a nice wood one in the Crate & Barrel catalog that is perfect for the patio or a picnic. This one holds six glasses and four bottles of wine. Now that is a picnic I wish to be invited to. On a similar note, I discovered a two-sided wine tote that holds a couple glasses and a bottle of wine with corkscrew, etc. – all in a zipper case.
Cheese Slate: Wherever you have wine, cheese will be close by. There is a fine assortment of slates for serving cheeses and on many of them there is space to name and describe the cheese. Some come with a metal band for slicing cheese or matching knives for that perfect sliver to fit on the cracker. Most of these can be used for meats as well. One can never have too many serving trays, so this is a gift that will always be appreciated.
Chocolates/Cheese/Meats: Giving someone something special to serve on your new serving tray is a nice way to share what you enjoy. A selection of special cheeses or some high-end chocolates will warm any wine-lover’s heart. Although I usually suggest not to plan on opening a bottle of wine given as a gift, if you are going to a party and bring cheese, chocolate, or meats, they will likely be opened and shared with party attendees.
Books and/or Magazine Subscriptions: Four top magazines to consider are Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, and, of course, my favorite, Julien’s Journal. If the person also likes to cook, you might want to consider Food & Wine.
There are also some fine books available, but you’ll want to know what books are already in your friend’s library. Some that I have read or can recommend are: Making Sense of Wine by Matt Kramer. This is a marvelous example of Matt’s writing and explains everything you need to know about wine. I highly recommend this one. The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil is the definitive textbook on wine and should be on every oenophile’s shelf. On the other end of the scale, Wine for Dummies by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan is a delightful entry level course into the world of wine. If your wine-loving friend likes to entertain, then he/she will love Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman. Using lovely photographs, this book matches easily made snacks and suggestions for wine specifically for entertaining.
There are also a number of wine journals or logs that allow the wine lover to record details of the wines they’ve tasted or foods paired with favorite wines. They come in all sorts of shapes, some with leather covers and others with drawings and quotes regarding the enjoyment of consuming wine with friends.
I would be remise if I didn’t mention that we have a wonderful, local resources for finding the perfect gift. Any of our wine retailers can help you with finding that special wine or accessory. Sue Davis, owner of our local, downtown River Lights Bookstore, not only enjoys wine, but reading about wine as well. Sue and her staff would be more than happy to help you select a wine related book or magazine to help you find a unique gift for your friend!
Wines I’ve Recently Tasted
2012 Illinois Sparkling Co. Franken’s French Hybrid Brut
I welcomed guests to a dinner at my house by offering them a glass of sparkling wine from Utica, IL. This wine had just a hint of pink with very tiny bubbles. 12.5 ABV
2005 Fidelitas “8” Columbia Valley Red Wine
Charlie Hoppes, master winemaker and blender, has access to some of the finest grapes in Washington State. This wine is a blend of reds from eight different vineyards and five different appellation, including Champaux, Red Mountain, Dwelley, LaTour, Windrow, Boushey, Weinbau, and Stillwater Creek. Although it was a 2005 and had moved around a bit, it was still very nice. As a matter of fact, once it breathed a bit, I didn’t want the bottle to end. 14.6% ABV
2014 Ramsay North Coast Pinot Noir – C. Ramsay Winery Napa, CA
This wine had incredible cranberry red color. There was a hint of dark cherry and chocolate on the nose with a subtle, very pleasant earthiness that I didn’t expect. The fine folks behind the bar at Pepper Sprout are pouring this wine now. 13.5 % ABV