Gift suggestions for your wine-loving friends.
By Louis Marmon
Washington Jewish Week June 15, 2006
If you are going to a special dinner party and want to bring your host something a little out of the ordinary, here’s a suggestion. Everyone who loves wine will also enjoy receiving a wine-related gift. A carefully selected present will usually adorn their home a lot longer than a bottle of wine and you will be remembered fondly every time it is utilized. Just stay away from the more useless items like the figurine decorated wine-stoppers and the gigantic wine glasses that double as cooling buckets.
Between breakage and unexpected guests most wine lovers never seem to have enough wine glasses. The best are made of lead crystal and specifically fashioned to enhance the flavors of the wine. Since each varietal has different chemical components, a properly shaped glass will amplify its aromas. Avoid glasses that are colored or contain etchings since these will detract from being able to appreciate the color of the wine.
One of the pioneers of shaping glasses to complement a specific wine is Riedel who produces a number of different styles and price categories ranging from the handmade “Sommeliers Series” ($45-$70 per stem) to the machine-made “Vinum Series” ($125 for 6). A recent innovation is the Riedel “O” Series, a stem-less tumbler that is stylish and easy to hold ($19 set of 2). A high-quality less expensive alternative is Spiegelau ($40 set of 6) who also makes an attractive decanter ($60).
If you are thinking about giving several bottles of wine, consider a subscription to a wine club, which will send one or two bottles of selected wines several times each year. Just be sure to check that it is legal to receive wine from out of state. The Sideways Wine Club
offers three choices: the “Miles’ Pinot” series, “Maya’s” collectable wines and “Jack’s Favorites” (www.sidewayswineclub.com
). Another option is to select a specific winery and enroll the recipient in their wine club. California based Murphy-Goode’s
wine club (www.murphygoodewinery.com
) will send 3 bottles, three times a year while the Oregon Pinot Noir producer Elk Cove’s
(www.elkcove.com) Roosevelt wine club will ship 2 bottles every other month.
Another thoughtful gift is a subscription to a wine journal, either a local publication such as the Atlanta based The Wine Report
), or one of the many national publications including The Wine Spectator
or Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
) which also have subscriber only Web-sites. Jancis Robinson, the editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine
, has a subscription based Web-site (www.jancisrobinson.com
) as does wine maven Frederic Koeppel who will personally answer subscriber’s questions about buying, serving and storing wine (www.koeppelonwine.com
For the book-lover, noted illustrator Ralph Steadman’s Untrodden Grapes ($23) is a delightful world tour of wine and winemakers while Baltimore based writer Paul Lukacs has gone out on a limb and written The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages ($29.95). Other notable wine books include Oz Clarke’s Australian Wine Companion: An Essential Guide for All Lovers of Australian Wine ($19.95) and George Tasker’s Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine ($26).
If you are looking for a gift for someone who does a lot of entertaining, consider giving them wine charms($12-$20), those bracelet-like devices that slip onto a wine stem and allow guests to remember which glass they are using. The choices range from beads, to animals, and even game pieces which makes it easy to match this gift to the recipients other interests. Another useful gift is a lever-type corkscrew made either by Screwpull or Rabbit ($50-$100) that can extract even the most recalcitrant cork.
Since wine will deteriorate if left in contact with the air after opening, the best way to save an opened bottle of wine for another day is to use some type of wine preservation device. The “VacuVin” ($16) uses a hand pump and rubber stopper to create a vacuum below the cork. An alternative is “PrivatePreserve” ($10) which instills a combination of inert gases into the bottle to force out the oxygen.