Some more holiday gift selections for the wine lover’s on your list.
By Lou Marmon
Gazette Newspapers December 18, 2013
The holiday catalogs abound with numerous gifts ideal for the wine-lovers on your list. In addition to a nice bottle of bubbly or a Pinot Noir from Oregon or the Russian River Valley, consider some other ideas that will not spill or require decanting.
Continuing with last month’s literary gift theme, the first suggestion is the latest edition of “The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition” by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. A perfect synergy of entertainment and detail, this volume is an absolute must for anyone passionate about the fruit of the vine. Few writers have Johnson’s vast experience combined with an impeccable charm and ability to explain and entice without pretense about a subject so often considered intimidating. Robinson, who has been a co-editor since the fifth edition in 2001, is among the worlds most gifted and articulate wine critics and oversees a team of other experts to collect and assimilate the diverse and evolving information collected so superbly in this volume. Many new and updated maps are highlights as are the extensive evaluations provided by the editors. As a reference, on a coffee table or displayed among the prize bottles in your cellar, “The World Atlas of Wine” is the penultimate wine book and an ideal gift.
Earlier this year, Robinson also published a wide-ranging evaluation of winemaking in the United States. Co-authored with the well-regarded wine writer Linda Murphy, “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States” is a perfect gift for those who prefer the wines of the new world. As the fourth largest wine producer, the U.S. is deserving of such a well-written and comprehensive examination that includes not only the familiar regions of California, Oregon and Washington State but also New York’s Finger Lakes, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere in America’s heartland that is also creating quality wines. Replete with maps and nearly 200 photographs, this book is a thorough assessment of the ever-changing and vastly improving U.S. wine industry.
Since a cork was first utilized to seal a bottle, enjoying wine has also been associated with gadgets. Old corkscrews are collector’s items and it seems that every few years a new device is created to deal with the issues of opening and conserving the flavors of wine. The latest (ingenious) approach is the Coravin Wine Access System, which features a hollow needle attached to a can of inert gas that is heavier than oxygen. The device is placed atop the bottle, with the needle passing completely through the cork, allowing the gas to fill the space between the liquid and the bottom of the cork. This prevents oxygen from entering the bottle while allowing the wine to pour out via the needle. Dispense as little or as much as desired then remove the device, causing the cork to re-seal itself, preserving the integrity of the closure and permitting the wine to remain basically undisturbed. At $300 (plus the subsequent cost of refill gas containers), it is an expensive gift ideally suited for those whose cellar contains exceptional bottles — but perhaps only if the giver is assured an opportunity to try some of these special wines, as well.
Other gifts for wine lovers are those that can adorn a table. Wine decanters not only enhance a wine’s flavors (especially younger ones), but also provide an interesting visual accent. A retired wine barrel is too large for most homes, but recycled circular tops and bottoms (called heads) make wonderful and rustic “Lazy Susans” and serving trays, while the staves can become candle or votive holders.