Every year I look for the ultimate gift for my husband, the wine lover. Joe makes a point of saying, “I don’t play dress up with my wine!” So those cutesy “wine caddies” are definitely out. But I have found a number of wine-related items that make perfect gifts.
Looking for a gift for your wine lover or maybe yourself? Before you reach for that “wine bottle” necktie; the flip flops with grapes attached or another set of “wine charms,” check out these gift ideas. You can avoid the stampede at the mall, and shop on-line. Here are just a few ideas with links to find out more:
Wine Spectator: Every wine lover needs a subscription to Wine Spectator The magazine is packed with information, looks great on your coffee table, and an on-line subscription gives you access to all the wine ratings directly on your PDA! Stumped about whether to buy that bargain the guy at the local wine shop has recommended? Just pop the wine name and vintage into WineSpectator.com and get the description and rating. And find bargains before your friends via Wine Spectator advance, delivered via e-mail every month.
Already have a subscription? Then why not organize your WS issues in attractive “library” boxes. Available through WineSpectator.com, these are perfect for getting the magazines out of the rack, and organized for display.
Decanter Magazine is an up market magazine on wine and spirits, published in over 90 countries on a monthly basis. The magazine content includes news from the industry, vintage guides and wine recommendations. Decanter organizes the annual Decanter World Wine Awards.
Wine Aerators: Wine aerators take the countless hours away from opening up red wine by decanting. This great device introduces air into the wine while it passes through the aerator, turning four hours into seconds. There are a number of different styles available. I like the pewter blowfish from Wine Enthusiast, which also offers the Sea-rrific Pewter Sea Horse Aerator as well as an octopus. For a sleek, professional aerator, try the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator.
Ice Sculpture Wine Chiller: This is the perfect gift for the Martha Stewart in all of us. The Oenophilia Ice Chiller for Wine mold can freeze plain water, or it can be dressed up for any occasion by adding fruits, ornaments, flowers, or food coloring. This unique product is wonderful for everyday use: chilling beverages, mineral water, or wine bottles. Includes ice mold and bowl with bottle stand that collects all melting ice.
Wine Refrigerators: The Cuisinart Private Reserve Countertop Wine Cellars are a great way to keep your wine ready at the perfect temperature. I picked up the Cuisinart 6-bottle Private Reserve for Joe one Valentine’s Day, but they have larger models available. The great thing about Cuisinart is the 3-year warranty. If you need a replacement, just call them up, and they’ll send you a new one in just a few days.
Vino Chapeau Disc Set: We picked up a couple packets of these cling-enabled wine glass covers at the Wine Blogger Conference. Not only do they double the concentration of your wine aromas, Vino Chapeau discs cling to the rim of your wineglass, securing your wine as you swirl! Made from a high-grade polymer, Vino Chapeau discs are completely reusable. Thin and lightweight, they can be tucked into your purse or pocket.
Sommelier Tools – Every wine lover needs a decent wine opener. We’ve purchased a number of different varieties but find the easiest to carry and operate is the basic waiter’s corkscrew. These include a knife to cut the foil, the corkscrew and are either single or double hinged. We collect them from various wineries, and they work well in both natural and synthetic corks. For a really special gift, choose the Laguiole Wine Waiter Steward Sommelier Corkscrew with Olive Wood Handle and Leather Case
Riedel Crystal Stemware: Riedel offers crystal stemware in a number of styles, weights and price points. We attended a tasting sponsored by Riedel, and you really can taste the difference in wine poured into lead crystal. For that guy or girl who has everything, why not surprise with a Riedel Sommeliers Maxi Bordeaux Grand Cru, Single Stem Riedel also offers a number of decanters styled for that practical wine lover like the Riedel Magnum Cabernet Decanter as well as the artist who loves beautiful, yet functional pieces like the Riedel Amadeo Decanter
Le Nez de Vin is a gift for the ultimate wine connoisseur. These aroma kits allow wine lovers to recognize and identify the aromas most commonly present in wine; thus, improving your appreciation and enjoyment of wine. Kits include the Le Nez du Vin Ultimate Wine Aromas Master Kit 54-pc. Companion kits are also available, including the Le Nez du Vin Faults and the Le Nez du Vin The Aromas of Oak. This brand new kit contains 12 key scents and a booklet to guide you through the various stages that wine undergoes as it matures in oak barrels. Also available is the Le Nez du Vin : “Clin de Nez”, 6 arômes (en français)
Memorizing these aromas provides an accurate and coherent vocabulary to further stimulate our appreciation of fine wines. Le Nez du Vin/Make Scents of Wine is simply the Worlds Ultimate Wine Education Tool it helps develop the sense of smell and creates a common language to describe, understand and better enjoy wine. It is the choice of wineries, educators, merchants and true wine lovers the world over.
Cork kits : Ever wonder what to do with all those corks? Wine Enthusiast offers a number of kits to put them to good use. Kits for bulletin boards, trivets and trays are available. I made the Cork Board Tray Kit with my first set of corks. It’s easy, and fun to do.
Wine-Opoly Board Game: Pop the cork off any gathering with Wine-Opoly Players buy favorite wines, collect bunches of grapes and trade them in for decanters. Sounds easy enough but add Import Taxes and serving faux pas and it becomes a little more difficult and a lot more fun! Each deed back contains wine descriptors and fun facts about each wine.
Films & DVDs: There are a number of entertaining films and instructional videos about wine, and the wine industry. Here are just a few:
- Bottleshock: Before a (then) little known Paris wine tasting in 1976, most people had no idea that California was producing world class wines. That changed when a British ex-pat in Paris organized a wine tasting of the best French versus the best Californians – against all expectations, California won both best red and white and nothing in the wine world has been the same since. Bottle Shock makes a great gift!
- Sideways: In this intoxicating, intelligent comedy, that made Pinot Noir the next Shiraz, director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) serves up “one of the best movies of the year” (Entertainment Weekly) about the ups, downs and sideways journeys of life. A wine-tasting road trip through California’s famed Central Coast takes an unexpected detour as Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) hit the gas en route to their mid-life crisis. The comically mismatched pair soon find themselves drowning in wine, women… and laughter until it all goes “Sideways”
- A Good Year: A Good Year is a feel-good movie that highlights the beauty of France as much as it does its stars. The movie provides a languid, gorgeous viewing experience. Director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe–who first worked together on the Academy Award-winning Gladiator–are reunited in this romantic film, which is based on Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. Crowe plays Max, a workaholic London bonds trader who doesn’t know the meaning of vacation. When his uncle dies, leaving him a picturesque estate in the south of France, Max views it as an opportunity to cash in the vinery and pocket the profits. Once there, Max falls under the spell of the land, the town, and a local woman.
- Wine for the Confused: In Wine for the Confused Cleese says, “Don’t let anyone ever try to tell you what wine you like, because people have different tastes and we shall honor that.” The point of the program is clear and simple: to help you find and describe wines you like; to show how to buy wines at a good value; and to provide tips on how to get the most enjoyment from the wines you do buy. With this attitude, his considerable charm, and his gentle wit, Cleese is the perfect host for this material, and right off the bat he strikes just the right tone–instructive, but light-hearted. The result is delightful.
- Mondovino Mondovino is billed as the ultimate film about wine and wine culture, Mondovino offers an unprecedented look into the conflicts, conspiracies and alliances of the wine trade. Filmed by award-winning director Jonathan Nossiter, Mondovino has sparked controversy in its theatrical run among wine producers, distributors and consumers as it shed light on the esoteric world of wine. Hailed as “Fahrenheit 9/11 for the grape” by MSNBC.
Wine Clubs: If your gift recipient resides in a state that allows direct shipment of wine, maybe a gift membership to a Wine Club is in order. Nearly every winery and wine shop offers a Wine Club membership. But make sure you check their shipping policy and procedure. And look for a club that offers short-duration memberships, as well as the standard automatic renewal.
Gift Certificates: If you just can’t decide on a gift for that special person, why not choose a gift certificate to his or her favorite wine bar or wine specialty shop. Not only is it a thoughtful gift, but you might just get to join your significant other to enjoy a glass or two!
There you have it! Just a few ideas for gifts for your favorite wine lover. If you take our suggestions, come back and let us know how the gift was received.
~Amy Corron Power