If you are like me, you purchased your holiday gifts months ago. But if you are more excited by the idea of last-minute gift giving, you started shopping yesterday, and are ready to pay a premium for shipping. Looking for the perfect gift for your wine or spirits lover? If you have a friend into wine or spirits, purchasing the perfect gift can be tricky. Is the person new to wine, or a connoisseur?
For serious connoisseurs, bottle stoppers, painted wine glasses and wine bottle holders are probably passé. Choosing a wine can be even trickier, unless you know exactly what your intended recipient likes and does not have. For those friends or relatives, choose something they can use time and time again. They will thank you for it, and remember you each time the gift is put to use. Here are just a few ideas:
For the Aesthetic Wine Lover
We found it can actually rescue a questionable bottle of wine, and smooth the tannins in a strident one. We first tried it on a bottle of wine from New Mexico that we picked up on sale. It was a blend, and had a rather ashy finish — we ran it through the TRIbella and poof! the ash taste was gone. We also tried it on a very good Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that needed more cellar time. Pouring the wine through TRIbella allowed the wine to open up and soften, making it more approachable and ready to drink now. Created and produced through Kickstarter.com by Skip Lei, a retired Nike product creator, TRIbella comes in a protective case. You can see videos of the TRIbella in action here. Priced at $40, it is available through Wine Enthusiast or through Amazon.com here: TRIbella Wine Aerator
Wine for the Walls – Leanne Laine Fine Art
We are big fans of Leane Laine’s Art and own several of her pieces I purchased after “meeting” her on twitter and visiting her website. This season she has created something truly unique. She calls it a “Silhouwine Portrait” — a silhouette of your face morphed into the splashing wine! Now since these are commissioned pieces, she is already swamped with Christmas orders, so I might suggest purchasing one for yourself or your special someone for Valentine’s Day, and another one of Leanne’s pieces for a Christmas gift. Shipping is free, but to make sure your gift is in time for Christmas, Express 2-Day shipping is available for orders to the United States and Canada. Learn more about Leanne Laine in our post here. Check out her website and Silhouwine Portraits here.
The Academic Wine Lover
My entire childhood my mother was in school — be it her undergraduate or graduate degrees, or her need to renew her education certification annually she was always studying or reading up on something. For those with a thirst to learn, books, website subscriptions and wine classes are a marvelous gift! And nothing beats the shipping price!
San Francisco Wine School
Because each of the 50-states now makes wine, there are probably classes wherever you live in the United States, and many wineries conduct educational tastings. But something even easier? How about an on-line course from the San Francisco Wine School? The California Wine Appellation Specialist program is an informative and fun class that will help your wine lover become an expert on California wines, and gift certificates are available!
A renowned wine expert, and creator of one of the very first on-line wine information sites, Jancis Robinson is one of the world’s leading writers of educational and encyclopedic material on wine. The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Robinson, is widely considered to be the most comprehensive wine encyclopedia in the world. Ms. Robinson also provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II.
Members of JancisRobinson.com have access to more than 100,000 tasting notes in her fully searchable database and more than 9,000 articles, with two new ones published most days. Plus, we have met her and can report she is a delightful lady! Annual memberships to JancisRobinson.com cost £69 (or the current equivalent in dollars, euros or Australian dollars) – the same price it has been for the last 10 years! That is a great price considering the membership also includes access to the on-line version of the Oxford Companion to Wine (SRP $65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($55). Learn about gift memberships here.
The Farm to Table French phrasebook by Victoria Mas
While my mother was quite educated, she refused to pronounce French words correctly. She would order a “Ham & Cheese Croy’saunt” (I swear, just to annoy me.) But, then, again, she had no real need to how to speak or order in French because she rarely boarded an airplane much less flew overseas in the 76 years she lived on this Earth.
But your wine lover may have a trip planned abroad, or may simply enjoy eating in French restaurants and cafes. What better way to help them better enjoy the experience than with a book that teaches them all sorts of French wine and food phrases, from, Farm to Table? But the Farm to Table French Phrasebook is not just a little French dictionary. Sure it teaches you how to order coffee — even if you’re lactose intolerant – “Avez-vous de soja a la place du lait? Je suis intolerent(e) au lactose.” But it also provides notes on French wine regions, explains terroir, and even provides “A Cheater’s Guide to Wine” which explains clues you can find about the wine simply by looking at the bottle. Readers can learn to navigate produce markets, charcuteries and patisseries; prepare meals with French flair with authentic recipes; pair regional wines with cheese and “become a little bit French” themselves, says author Victoria Mas. $15.95 Hardcover, available at Amazon here: The Farm to Table French Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine
About 20 years ago, I visited Japan, and learned a bit about Sake. But most of what I read was originally written in Japanese, and translated to English. It still made Sake a bit intimidating to the would-be student.
Author John Gauntner‘s Sake Confidential reads more like a wine-meets-craft beer book. It’s geeky enough to give you a lot of insider information, but approachable and easy to read, so you won’t be intimidated. It called to mind things I had forgotten, and told me some things I did not know. A great read for anyone who loves Japanese cuisine and wants to do authentic pairings, or someone who wants to immerse themselves in Sake. Great for Sommeliers as well. Publisher’s listed price is $11.95, but it’s available on Amazon at a discount here: Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection, and Enjoyment
For the Wine Collector
If you’re shopping someone who buys and cellars a lot of wine, she is bound to have some older bottles with cantankerous corks – the type that just refuse to be extracted with your standard corkscrew. Enter the Durand. We use it every Thanksgiving when we open a bottle of Kalin Cellars, and have used it on the rare “library” wines in our collection — it works every time. It comes in a lovely cork box, perfect for display when your Durand is not in use. The blades are stainless steel and the handle is zinc casting with a nickel chrome finish. The worm is steel with a Teflon® coating. Priced at $125 USD. Watch the video, here, and you can see how easy it is to use.
For the Outdoorsy Wine Lover
For the wine lover you find more often at the beach or poolside in the summer months, or outdoors in the winter — here’s an interesting gift from corkcicle.com. It’s called the Vinnebago, and it is a bit like a canteen for wine. It will keep any cold beverage chilled for up to 25 hours, and it conveniently holds 750 ml. Why that’s the same size as a standard wine bottle!
Taking mulled beverages to a Bowl Game tailgate party? The Vinnebago will maintain the heat in hot beverages for 12 hours. Available in silver and black. Brave the crowds at Bed, Bath & Beyond, or order on Amazon. Free, two-day shipping with a Prime membership. $29.95 on Amazon: Corkcicle Vinnebago Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle/Thermos, 750ml, Silver
Gifts for the Host or Hostess
So you’ve been invited to a party and want to make a splash? Here are a couple great ideas for bubbles with a little something extra!
Chandon’s Limited Edition Holiday Bottles
Celebrate with Chandon – the first American sparkling wine venture established by a French champagne house in Napa Valley. Available through January 31, 2015, Chandon has created special white and gold packaging for its Limited Edition Blanc de Noirs. Phases include “The Party Starts Here” “Pour on the Fun” and “I am the After Party” Priced at just $24 per 750 ml bottle, these are available nationally.
Chandon has also teamed up with The Glitter Guide and Flat Vernacular to create festive Chandon cocktail napkins. Inspired by confetti, Flat Vernacular’s Payton Turner hand-painted the perfect design to pair with the bottles. It’s available on linen cocktail napkins. $24 for a set of 4, available on deptofdecoration.com
Razzle Dazzle them with XXIV Karat
Whether you’re celebrating Arizona State University’s trip to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, or simply want to Live Life All In, XXIV Karat has created the thing that will make you the star of the party, with two sparkling wines infused with 24-karat gold leaf. Both non-vintage blends of California Coastal appellations, XXIV Karat comes in Grand Cuvee, a white blend available in both 375 and 750 ml and a 750 ml Rose.
Co-founders Nicholas Cowherd and Kegan Klein met at Arizona State University, where they said they drank a lot of ‘champagne’. Of course since these wines are all California grapes and bottled in Lodi, rather than Champagne, France, they cannot legally be called Champagne. But what fun for the millennial living large and enjoying life to the fullest. Widely available in Arizona, the website also lists numerous night clubs and liquor stores in the Detroit Metro Area and Upper Peninsula in Michigan; Denver and Littleton, Colorado, Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and in North Carolina (Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington). For you Californians, locations are listed all up and down the coast. It’s also available on-line, via a link from the XXVI Karat website to “Hi-Time Wine Cellars.” Look for it under American Sparkling. XXIV Grand Cuvee ~$35 XXIV Rose ~$38. You’re out of luck if you’re in Texas, but the retail outlet does ship to Louisiana.
The 24k gold leaf is food grade safe, which means it will ‘pass through’ the body in 48 hours. I’ll take their word for it.
For other gift ideas for wine lovers (Hint: Valentine’s Day is just 6 weeks away) check out some of our previous gift-giving posts: