Welcome to my first holiday gift guide! I’m sharing the gifts I’ve received over the year and loved as well as gifts I plan to give to others who love wine. I’m not suggesting bottles, because there’s no way I could choose favorites! I will say this: if you want to give a bottle, make it sparkling – Champagne, Prosecco Superiore, Lambrusco, whatever – everyone loves bubbles, right? Happy shopping and happy sipping this season!
Riedel Stems It’s just more fun to drink wine – any wine — cheap wine, fancy wine – all wine – from really nice glassware. I’m a huge fan of Riedel’s Vinum series. The taller glass on the left is the Bordeaux glass – ideal for Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc. The big-bowl glass in the center is the Burgundy glass – ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the two wines that hail from Burgundy). The littler guy on the right is an all-purpose glass that is more compact and perfect for almost anything. I even use the Bordeaux glasses for Champagne, Prosecco Superiore and other bubbles. (Flutes are so 2010. Also so hard to wash.) You can find these lots of places, including Riedel’s website and Williams-Sonoma. A two-pack is usually around $50 or $60. (So be careful with them!)
Wine Tote Bag I met Sandra Kneile of Vinotopia in Australia when I complimented her on this amazing tote bag. Turns out – she designed it! Her company, Vinotopia, is on Etsy and has so many cute gifts for wine people – including this awesome canvas bag! It has pockets on the inside for two wine bottles, as well as other zippy pockets to stash keys, biz cards, whatever. I. LOVE. IT! (I bought the only spare she had on her, when we met at the Wine Media Conference). And people – she ships to the U.S., so get on it! The bag is about $32 and shipping to Chicago (as an example) less than $11.
Vacuvin My friend Shara gave me years ago and I use it every day. It’s a vacuum pump and it comes with rubber stoppers. You stuff the stopper into the neck of the bottle, pump the air out and shazam! Your leftover wine is going to stay pretty damn fresh and festive in the fridge for days. Way better than just cramming a cork back in. (Air is wine’s enemy once opened.) I see them everywhere – Bed Bath Beyond, the liquor store, supermarket. You can also order on Amazon – the pump and two stoppers is about $12.
Vacuvin Wine Coolers These cylinder chiller things are magic! Given to me by my friend and “Name That Wine” co-star Rob Frisch, they are made by Vacuvin. I keep mine in the freezer, and whenever I need to take a bottle somewhere (to a picnic, a friend’s house, whatevs, I just slip one of these on and it keeps it chilled for hours. So. Handy! Find them on Amazon. A two-pack is $24.99.
Wine Purse Does my friend Tera know me or what? This sexy stripedy “wine purse” perfectly holds one bottle of wine AND has a handy pocket for a wine key (corkscrew, whatever!) I love it! The thermal lining even keeps your wine nice and cool while you tote it to a BYO restaurant or a concert in the park. Find them online at The Lakeside Collection, in many cute patterns and prints, for $14.99 each! (Wha? That is a freaky good bargain.)
Wine Ice Bag OMG. These things! So handy, especially in the summer. You just fill it with ice and water, plop your bottle of wine in and buh bam! It gets cold and stays cold, while you are drinking outdoors on a hot day. (The one shown was a gift at a wine tasting; I bought my first one at a winery in Chile.) No more constant trips to the fridge to get the wine, no clunky ice buckets. Just this lightweight, clever collapsible bag. Find them on Amazon, where a two-pack is $12.99.
Wine Keys, aka, Corkscrews I don’t know why people in the wine industry call it a “wine key” instead of a corkscrew, but they do. Whatever. I’m here to tell you this simple corkscrew is the only one you need. Just be sure you get the double-hinged one – it makes life so easy. You don’t need those fancy “Rabbit” things and you certainly don’t need that cheap piece of shit where the “arms” go up and down, that shreds your cork. You just need this. Less than $10. Fantastic stocking stuffer. I have at least one on me at all times (except when I travel – TSA must have 10 million of these.) You can pick them up at tons of places, including wine.com (for $6.99)
The Winemaker’s Wife OMG, I’m reading this right now and will share more about it, but it’s already so good. It’s fiction, with two parallel stories happening: one during WWII, in the Champagne region of France and the other in modern-day France. I detect romance, suspense, and of course, Champagne. It’s a great book to curl up with on a winter day or night … with a glass of Champagne!
Shadows in the Vineyard This book! OMG – it’s the book that made a thousand light bulbs go off in my head. It’s based on the true story of a freaky French criminal who tried to poison the vineyards of Domaine Romanée-Conti for ransom. He was caught before too much damage was done but the best part of this book is the history and context you get for Burgundy. All of a sudden, you start understanding the place and why it is special (and expensive). The writing is excellent and I think I’m going to read it again. It’s really, really good.
World Atlas of Wine This is kind of everyone’s go-to reference source for win. The dynamic British duo of Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson just released an updated version and it’s a great book for looking up almost anything. Information is succinct, not overly technical, making it a great book for any wine drinker, especially anyone who is studying wine.
Somm TV Jason Wise is the producer of the three “Somm” films, and
ow he has created a new streaming service called SommTV. You can subscribe by the month or the year and have endless hours of wine TV pleasure! I haven’t watched yet (I’ve asked for this for Christmas) but I know the three films are available, as well as a ton of fresh content, including tastings, winemaker stories, region stories. $74.99 a year or $11.99 per month.
Wine Folly Madeline Puckett and her team have landed on a fun way to learn about wine through colorful infographics and simply written, yet comprehensive info about wine. It’s a great reference when you need to look up a grape, a region, a style of wine – anything. And the bright graphics make it fun to read.
The Wine Bible Karen McNeil and her team have compiled one of the most comprehensive and compact books on wine ever. They update it on the regular. It’s well-organized and more in-depth / academic in style, so it is great for those studying wine – and those who want to study it.
Happy shopping, giving, gifting, receiving and drinking this season! Cheers!