Posts Tagged ‘wine gifts’

All due respect to the “Life is a Cabernet” apron, the stand up wooden wine holder shaped like an elderly British butler,  the 22nd century gadget that promises to, through the power of air, gravity and space aged polymers, transform your Two-buck-Chuck into Romaneé-Conti with one pour down its magical spout…

Sorry Jeeves, not this year

But, these are not items that hardcore wine lovers actually use. I’m going to break it to you here, because your dear nephew in Portland is too much of a mensch to do it himself.

“Fine.” I hear you huffily saying, “I’ll sign him up for a wine club. I’ll get him a bottle of something.”

You can do that, I won’t stop you, they won’t complain, but, in the inimitable words of Heavy D. “Now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do with it?” They probably have wine they love, a few even. Maybe even in their house, on a rack, in something with a refrigeration element, even stashed under the bathroom sink (okay, that last one is probably just me.) But now they need to open, chill, decant, serve, store and take their inamorata out for a night on the town in style.

9 of the 10. #10 was in the freezer.

9 of the 10. #1 was in the freezer.

I’m here to help. Here are the Top 10 Gifts For Wine Lovers that they’ll actually use. This isn’t a sponsored post, or a PR shout out. These are the 10 things that I, as a frequent and semi-pro imbiber use on a weekly, if not daily basis, and I can vouch for each and every one (photo of my slightly worse for the wear collection above.)



Vacu Vin Rapid Ice Wine Chiller – Perfect for chilling a bottle quickly, also absolutely brilliant for picnics, outdoor concerts, BYOB restaurants or anywhere you might want to keep a white cold (or a red from getting too warm.) Please note, these freezer chilled sleeves are usually too snug for champagne and some larger pinot-style bottles.


Foil cutter – These babies are made to remove the foil wrap that covers the cork from the top of a wine bottle. I’ve seen fancy schmasy ones that go for 30 bucks or more, but my cheap-o $4 deal from Sur La Table has served me well for years. This isn’t an item where it’s necessary to splurge.


Screwpull Table corkscrew – I have to thank my mum for turning me on to these corkscrews at a young age (Sonomaists aren’t born, they’re made ;-)) Neither of us has the “corkscrew gene.” I am in awe of people who have mastered those sommelier jack knife style jobs, and even more so by the kitchen counter commitment of people who invest in massive “rabbit style” lever machines. I prefer to keep it simple and accept my inability to keep from shredding corks with anything but this. It lines up your screw, creates its own leverage, gets corks out in one piece, runs about 20 bucks, and, best of all, it gets the wine into your glass in a timely and un-corky manner. You might not be cool, but you won’t be thirsty either.

Aerating wine funnel – People can debate how much any aerating gadget really helps. I’m an agnostic on the topic myself, I find a few violent swirls once your vino is in the decanter and then some time on the counter is as good as anything else. The reason I like this funnel is it gets your wine into the decanter in one piece (a funnel is a lot easier to aim for than the decanter mouth.) And the removable filter insures no stray bits of cork or globs of sediment make it into the final sip. Another bonus, if you’re having a fruit fly day, just slip the filter over the top of the decanter while it aerates, keeping your wine protein free!


A decanter with a medium bottom – Most wine pros will tell you that you can decant wine in almost anything that allows the wine to oxygenate, so it opens up and gains complexity, and something clear so you can have a peek as you pour (more of a big deal with older wines where you’re on the lookout for sediment.) This is true, so you don’t have to get hung up on the “right” decanter (glasses are another story. More on that next…) The reason I like a decanter with a medium bottom for everyday drinking is that it’s easier to maneuver. Mine is a trusty number from Williams-Sonoma but there are a ton out there in every price range. This is an elegant gift that’s hard to mess up, consider it the “scented candle” of wine gifts.

Montrachet glasses – I know what you’re saying, “But she doesn’t even drink Montrachet. She likes, ya know, regular stuff, like chardonnay.” You’re in luck. Montrachet glasses ARE chardonnay glasses. But, unlike the typical slimmer bowled chardonnay glass, Montrachet glasses are rounder, and truly enhance the nose and the entire expression and experience of the chardonnay grape from wherever it hails (even Montrachet) I like the Riedel Vinum series, but they DO require hand washing, so take that into consideration before gifting or grabbing for yourself. If you aren’t daunted by hand washing, read on…


Wine glass cleaning brush – I like these little foam dealies for a couple reasons. One, they’re very soft  and flexible so they won’t scratch your glasses and two, because it’s far too easy to transmit strong odors into your wine glass and mar your experience using an all-purpose kitchen brush or sponge. Having a dedicated wine glass cleaning brush guarantees you’re not scrubbing out your cabernet glasses with the detritus of last night’s French onion soup.

Decanter drying stand – This is another one like the foil cutter where you don’t have to go on a crazy splurge, but you can if you want to. A drying stand is, in it’s simplest form, a rubber tipped stake with a weighted bottom that seems like it would send your precious decanter crashing to the ground, but it doesn’t. It gets it dry after you’ve washed it, preferably with water and a bit of salt, no detergent (those off-odors again.) That’s all I have to say about that.


Champagne stopper – There’s a few wine items where you can go as cheap or expensive as you like. This is one where you should go top end. I’ve tried some of the cheap-o champagne stoppers before, and they’re okay, but awkward to use and more often than not, that January 1st mimosa ends up a little faded. You really should invest in a heavy duty model with a switch-style valve, one that closes with a nice authoritative, one-push “ka-thunk.” Your bubbly will still sparkle up to a few days later.

Neoprene wine tote – Sometimes you and your wine want to stretch your legs, get out for a bit. You’re all dressed to the nines, ready to hit the town; you’re really going to gear down your pal Wine in that used grocery bag?! For shame! Neoprene wine totes are another no-brainer wine gift, for you or that lucky so-and-so. I like the selection from Built NY. They have them in all sorts of patterns and configurations, one bottle, two, a six pack (for when you’re on  your way to my house.) I even picked up that polka dot number in the top photo a few weeks back at Marshall’s, so who knows, maybe you’ll score a bargain!

So winos…What do you think? Did I miss anything? Is your heart still set on that apron? That’s okay, there’s always next year!

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