The holidays are already upon us, and with the days to Christmas dwindling, now is the time to order any last-minute gifts for the wonderful winos in your life. Here are a few of my personal picks that will make toasting to your loved ones and a happy new year even better.
The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, $13
No, you won’t actually become a wine expert with this book, but it makes a fun present for oenophiles with a sense of humor, and it does run through many major aromas including fruits, earthy flavors and more.
Decanter Drying Stand, $15
One of the hardest things about cleaning out a decanter, other than not being able to use soap at the risk of leaving residue on the inside that will affect the flavor of the wine, is drying it quickly and effectively. It’s not like you can just reach in and wipe it out with a towel. Often, you get condensation forming and unsightly water spots. A handy decanter drying stand solves that problem and is a relative bargain.
Wine Maps, $19
One of my favorite wine sites (and now a book!) is Wine Folly. One of the minds behind the site, Madeline Puckett, is not only a certified sommelier, but also a great graphic designer and she creates amazing infographics, images, and more, including a series of maps showcasing some of the world’s great wine regions. Take your pick of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa, Sonoma, Australia, Italy, South America and more. They’re all colorful, informative, and a great stocking stuffer for the more geographically inclined among your friends.
Wine Wars Trivia Game, $20
Think you know a lot about wine? Or want to prove that a snobby friend of yours doesn’t? Snag a set of this fun little trivia game that includes questions on things like growing grapes, winemaking, wine science, tasting notes and more.
Wine Pairing Towels, $28
One of the most difficult, nerve-racking aspects of wine is how to pair it with food. These handy (and decorative) little kitchen towels take the legwork out of it, though, with options for 68 wine styles and 56 foods – that’s a total of 3,808 possible pairings for the mathematically inclined. Plus, they’re just plain cute.
Kate Spate Woodland Park Owl Bottle Stoppers, $30
If you have a cork mangler in your life, bottle stoppers make the perfect little present to keep their wine fresh no matter how maladroit they are with a corkscrew. While you’ll find a lot of New Age-y crystal looking ones on the internet, these whimsical porcelain owl ones from designer Kate Spade are simple and stylish (and inexpensive!).
Drink A Diamond Glasses, $34
I know stemless glasses are a no-go for the snobbiest of wine enthusiasts – after all, you don’t want to raise the temperature of your wine just by holding the glass – but sometimes they’re just the easiest option (and less likely to get broken by, shall we say less-than-sober drinking buddies). But forget the boring options where just the stem of a glass has been removed, which are basically the wineglass equivalent of muffin tops. Instead, opt for these design-forward, diamond-shaped tumblers sold at Urban Outfitters. They’ll chic up any chicanery you have planned over the holidays.
Ravi Instant Wine Chiller, $39.95
Sometimes the wine shop runs out of chilled bottles of that white or rosé you want, and you’re forced to take home one at room temperature. Life is tough. But it just got a little bit easier thanks to this instant-chilling system from Ravi. Just keep it in your freezer, and anytime you bring home a bottle of wine, you just pop it onto the mouth of the open bottle and pour your wine through it, and voila, it’s nice and chilled when it hits your glass. The liquid is channeled through a frozen stainless-steel tube (so as not to affect the flavor), and the rate of flow can be adjusted depending on how cold you want your wine.
Rabbit Wine Opener, $44.95
Your corkscrew says a lot about you. Sure, you could go for a simpler waiter’s corkscrew, or the ubiquitous butterfly style, but it might just be time to graduate to this slightly higher-tech version that takes advantage of physics to open the bottle perfectly every time (and with a certain ergonomic panache). The set comes with a foil cutter and a spare corkscrew coil.
Riedel Cabernet Decanter, $52
Every wine collection should include a fine decanter, but there’s no reason you have to pay top price for a top-quality one. Riedel is probably the most recognizable name in glassware today thanks to excellent products, a long heritage, and some of the most beautiful shapes on shelves these days. Having a Riedel decanter is a sign you take your wine seriously, and this one is practically a steal at just $52. It’s simple, unfussy, finely made, and the perfect choice for your first decanter, and for everyday use.
Bash Beverage Tub, $89.95
This year’s big round of holiday parties might almost be over, but it’s never too early to plan for next year. That means having a tub big enough to chill and hold all those gorgeous, glistening bottles of white wine (and champagne!) you plan to serve your guests. This one is particularly pretty, made from hand-hammered, polished aluminum in an attractive oval shape. It even has cutout handles to make schlepping that vino just a little bit easier.
Riedel Amadeo Decanter, $390
If you’re looking to make a statement, though, this curvaceous special-edition decanter from Riedel is more the way to go. It is called Amadeo to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and is mouth-blown and hand-shaped to resemble the way the famous composer hand wrote the note “G.” The neck swoop stops embarrassing dribbles, and because it’s lead crystal, you can even put it in the dishwasher (just don’t use soap).
Coravin Model Two Plus Pack, $400
This is the big, blowout gift for the real connoisseur or collector in your circle. Coravin is an apparatus that uses very thin needles to pierce the cork of a wine bottle. As wine flows out through the needle, the system pumps (tasteless and safe) argon gas in, thus preventing any oxygen from entering the bottle and potentially ruining your wine. It basically means that you can sample glasses from very old or expensive bottles of wine without having to open and drink the whole bottle. This deluxe pack comes with the latest version of the apparatus itself, a carrying case, a selection of needles including a fast-pour one and one especially for old vintage bottles, and a set of argon capsules to get you started.