Holiday Gift Guide

This year’s Gift Giving Guide for the wine lover on your list.


By Lou Marmon


Gazette Newspapers  December 17, 2014


california wine bookWhile no wine-lover will ever complain about receiving a special bottle as a holiday gift, there are many other options that would please even the snobbiest on your list.

A favorite recent publication is “The Wines of California” by Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, (a.k.a. “The World Wine Guys”). Mike and Jeff’s delightful personality shines throughout this exceptionally complete opus that includes descriptions of the individual regions (AVAs), reviews of selected wineries and discussions with influential winemakers as well as recipes featuring California fare. A viniculture achievement in print that reflects the authors’ outstanding palate and knowledge, it would be a wonderful gift for anyone that loves California wine.

The second edition of Jamie Goode’sThe Science of Wine – From Vine to Glass,” is a perfect present for a scientifically inclined wine-geek. Understandable and thought-provoking, it provides a comprehensive review of the technology behind modern winemaking. This latest version includes several new chapters including a discussion on how we communicate what we sense when tasting wine.

Most every wine-lover also enjoys a well-made cocktail, and Jimmy Dymott’sModern Cocktails” is a great way to learn about the culture, history, and recipes for the booming cocktail scene. Dymott is both a raconteur and teacher with a creative flare for drinks and a good story. An entertaining and instructive volume that will easily fulfill its promise to make you the “life of the party.”

When looking for stocking stuffers, consider a small container of wine. “Nuvino” is a line of re-sealable, unbreakable individual pouches of red and white wines that are equivalent to a single glass. They are ideal for picnics, the beach and other places where you don’t want to worry about having a corkscrew.

Other options include cocktail mixers from Powell & Mahoney whose portfolio includes such classics as Margarita and Peach Bellini as well as Blood Orange, Pomegranate, and a Chipotle Bloody Mary mix. Or consider “Bare Organic Mixers” a line of gluten free, low-calorie mixers created by Natalie Susi after she was laid off from a teaching job. The Lemon Drop and Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo mixes are particularly intriguing. Similarly, Josh Morton spent 10 years in his Brooklyn kitchen developing “Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur,” an all-natural, extremely flavorful mixer that tastes great in tea, as a base for cocktails or splashed over ice as an aperitif. We are also fans of “Fever Tree” a series of award-winning tonics and other mixers that come in small bottles that would easily fit into stockings.

For the more clumsy on your list, or in place of a hunk of coal, give a bottle of “Whip-It,” a plant-based cleaner that is very effective in removing wine stains. Along the same lines are “Wine Wipes,” by Borracha, a simple and pleasant tasting way to remove wine stains from your teeth. Or perhaps a pair of “Steady Sticks” wine glass holders that will keep glasses from spilling during picnics. Stainless steel loops with a spike to stick in the ground; they are about 10 inches high, fit easily into a basket and are a much better alternative than trying to balance the glass on a smooth looking surface.

The “Wine Hive” is a series of modular wine racks with a honey comb appearance. Founded by industrial designer John Paulick and funded via Kickstarter, Wine Hive’s patented aluminum interlocking system is aesthetically pleasing and adaptable to most spaces. Another eye-catching modular wine holder is NOE by Alessi that appears to be a bunch of grapes. Able to hold six bottles, it is attractive enough to keep on the kitchen counter but can also be easily expanded.

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