Here are a dozen possible wine gifts for the holidays; call ‘em John’s dirty dozen, or John’s twelve gifts for the twelve days of Christmas, or whatever you want. They are presented in no particular order. If you click on the name, you will be taken to a webpage where you can find out more about the product, or order the item. Cheers!
Sale Price $10.72
Available from the Wine Hardware Stores, Napa, Sonoma, Walnut Creeek, South San Francisco and online. Wine glasses without the stem means no broken glass stems and fewer accidents as sweeping hands (I’m Italian and there are lots of sweeping hands in a family conversation) move above these stem free wine bowls. Nice shape, nice size, nice weight, nice glasses. GREAT price, buy 8 or 12 at this price.
1 at $39.95, 2 or more at $29.95 each
Available at the Wine Hardware Stores and online. I have written in wonder as just opened, closed nose, not ready to drink bottles are transformed by this amazing little device. Just hold it over your glass, pour your wine from the bottle through this aerator, the wine bubbles, burbles, breathes, and in just seconds the wine in your glass is drinkable, open, enjoyable. I am skeptical of gizmos and gadgets, but this is an amazing wine tool for the impatient.
Available at the Wine Hardware Stores and online. In Laguiole France there is a Forge, the Forge de Laguiole, and artisans produce the most amazing cutlery and corkscrews in the world. There are a number of folks who sell knock off junk from Thiers France or Asia with a Laguiole name. IWA (International Wine Accessories) tried to pass off just such a mass produced cheap knock off using video of hand crafting from the Forge to sell their inferior items – some people believe lies and deception are just marketing tools in service of sales. Not inexpensive, but heirloom quality, hand crafted corkscrews from the Forge de Laguiole run from $160 to over $200, and are the ultimate gift for the wine connoisseur in your life.
Available online and in better wine shops. This magical gas in a can is heavier than oxygen and doesn’t so much displace all of the oxygen laden air in an opened bottle of wine as it sinks below the oxygen laden air and blankets the wine from oxygen, protecting and preserving wine (and oils and vinegars) between glasses. Keeps wines yummy, keeps oils from going rancid and vinegars from going musty.
Available online, and possibly the sale table at Blockbuster. A lot of wine folks mock this movie, and it interesting to note (if you are a wine geek) that the featured character Miles’ treasured Cheval Blanc often possesses a considerable percentage of Merlot, a varietal which Miles detests. That said, I love this movie. There is one passage that brings tears to my eyes, for what I think is a beautiful expression of the wonder of wine. Walk in the Clouds and Bottle Shock together don’t reach the greatness of this best wine movie ever.
Available online (sort of) and at art and craft shows. This is the best bottle stopper ever. One size fits all. No flavor transfer bottle to bottle. Easy to Use. Wines don’t leak on their side in the fridge. Champagnes (and two liter sodas) stay bubbly upright in the fridge. Oils and vinegars stay yummy longer. Break it by accident, or through clumsy mishap, and they fix it for free. I often pair this with Private Preserve (above) for long term storage of liquids with great effect. Online is difficult because these guys are on the road all the time, and because their website sucks. Best thing to do is find the Corkers you want online, over 100 decorative images can be seen online, and send an email directly to Fred, the cork boss. Let him know the corks you want, he’ll send you a quote, you send him credit card info, he sends you cork; weird, but it works, as they don’t really have operators standing by, bins of separated corks, item numbers, or a shipping department. They are old school crafters and artists in a studio. Corkerguy@aol.com is Fred’s email to get the ball rolling.
Available directly from the author through the book’s website. You can even get signed, first edition, copies of the book. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this book just before I was going to buy it, unexpected, unsought, but incredibly welcome. This was, far and away, my favorite book of the year, and I read a ton. I reviewed this book earlier this year, and simply gushed with praise. The author, Randall Grahm, is a winemaker I revere, and a brilliant writer who used his prodigious writing skills in marketing service of his wines. This book is a collection of those writings, a greatest hits if you will. Parody, satire, wit and a reinvention of literature’s most famous works. This book brought me great joy. I imagine anyone who loves wine, literature, or ideally both will cherish this book.
Available from the Wine Hardware Stores and online. This is one of the quirkiest, oddest, yet brilliant and effective wine preservation concepts ever. Each individual package contains one flexible plastic floating disc, self adjusting for interior bottle width, that can be inserted into a bottle and floats on the surface of the wine protecting the wine from oxidation. Great for a stocking stuffer, I reviewed these positively this year in an earlier article and think they are great for packing away in a suitcase for traveling wine lovers – perfect for wines in the hotel room.
Available from Tres Classique and online. Wineries typically have olive trees and make and sell olive oil, because the harvest, press, and bottling schedule is complementary for wine making operations. Many wineries produce and sell their own oils and vinegars. Terra Savia and Saracina are two of my favorite local wineries producing olive oils. There is a company in wine country that doesn’t make wine, but concentrates strictly on the most delicious gourmet flavored oils and vinegars. I have purchased cases and cases and given away dozens of bottles over the years, often paired with a Corker above, and everyone has loved them. From individual bottles of Lemon Splash, aged Balsamic and Truffle infused oil to gift boxes containing an assortment of delicious treats, Tres Classique is a wine country favorite of mine.
Available from Wine Enthusiast online. Face it, most people don’t have a decanter, and although largely unnecessary, they are cool. This one is a great size, shape and price. Winner, winner, duck with cherry reduction dinner.
Available from Wine Hardware Stores and online. These are a cool, at home, solution for wine bottle storage. These precut wood pieces can be fit together to make a freestanding wine rack, and as your wine collection grows you can just add more levels. The Wine Steward, a great wine shop in Pleasanton California, uses double deep Modularack with optional display topper wine storage and display in their store in a richly handsome manner.
Jan 29, 2011 Grand Zinfandel Tasting $70
Jan 27, 2011 Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing, Jan 28, 2011 Flights, Jan 28, 2011 Evening With The Winemakers Dinner, and the Jan 29, 2011 Grand Zinfandel Tasting $500
Available online. Almost a year ago, back in January, I wrote some pretty good pieces (modesty and humility are overrated – no one wrote a better recap) about attending three of the four tasting events. Each event was incredible. I grew up with Zinfandel, it is one of my favorite wine varietals, and the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) Zinfandel Festival is one of my favorite events each year. Tickets to the Grand Zinfandel Tasting is a must, but if you are fortunate enough to be well off, go for full immersion and buy tickets for all four events.
Thanks for perusing my 2010 list of 12 favorite wine related gifts for this holiday season. Any, or all, would make great gifts for a wine lover. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and feel the touch of Christmas spirit and cheer.
Disclosure: I worked for Wine Appreciation Guild (Wine Hardware Stores are WAG’s retail outlets), sold The Wine Steward their floor racks, sold Corkers for Fred, and applied to market ethically for VWE (parent company of IWA).