Know somebody who rides the grape, climbs the vine, crumbles the cork? Put less cutely, do you have a friend who loves wine? These 10 gifts will help both experienced and new wine aficionados get the most from their wine-sipping encounters.
Corks across America | State-Shaped Wine Cork Holder
After they’ve extinguished a bottle, some connoisseurs keep the cork for sentimental reasons. Instead of letting the corks accumulate in piles in the kitchen or living room, corral them together turn them into art. This quality wood piece is cut in the shape of your favorite U.S. state — all 50 are available — with empty slots waiting to be filled with corks of wine bottles gone by. It’s a great idea, although you’d probably fill up Delaware in about a week.
Be cool | Le Creuset Wine Cooler Sleeve
Drat. Your wine’s at room temperature. All the tannin is flattened out; all the oaky undertones have turned into potted plants. It didn’t have to be this way, and with the Le Creuset Wine Cooler Sleeve, it won’t. Available in a wide range of sporty colors, the Le Creuset keeps a standard, 750-ml wine bottle in crisp, cold condition, even away from the refrigerator. Just stick it in the freezer for a while to let the interior gel packs ice over, then sheathe your wine bottle in the sleeve, and kiss lukewarm vino adieu.
Get a chill inside | Corkcicle
If only you could wave a magic wand and chill down that bottle of chardonnay that’s lingering on your counter. Splendid news: The Corkcicle is that magic wand, and you don’t even have to wave it — you just have to freeze it first. Made from top-shelf plastic and non-toxic gel, the Corkcicle actually goes into your wine bottle, chilling the wine from the inside. The Corkcicle is better than an ice bucket because it’s less messy and doesn’t get the wine too cold. Also, it’s called the Corkcicle, a word we get a strange pleasure from saying over and over.
The bible of vino | The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia
Sotheby’s knows a thing or two about the trappings of luxury, including wine and spirits. This exhaustive publication, which has just been updated for the first time in several years, contains everything the budding sommelier should know about the fermentation of the grape. It’s arranged in geographical order, focusing on world regions that produce the most acclaimed wine in the world: Southeast Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, Napa Valley, and Uncle Dan’s moonshine jars in the back of a hollowed-out VW van. Well, okay, not that last one. But maybe in the next edition.
Do try this at home | Craft a Brew Home Merlot Making Kit
As any seamster, gardener, or molecular scientist will tell you, nothing’s better than making things at home. But unless you own a world-class vineyard, it’s not so easy to produce a bottle of wine under your own roof. Until now, that is. The Craft a Brew Home Winemaking kit — available for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio — gives you all the tools, materials, glassware, and odd powdered substances called “clarifiers” that you need to make a few bottles of homemade hooch.
Hold everything | Personalized Wine & Cheese Carousel
Wine and cheese — they go together like flotsam and jetsam, peanut butter and jelly, Hall & Oates, breaking and entering. Give both of your favorite fermentable foods the spectacular showcase they deserve with this handsome carousel presentation. Made from cherry wood, it rotates like a lazy Susan, with holding spaces for six wine glasses, one wine bottle, and several blocks of cheese. You might even be able to squeeze in some figs. It also comes engraved with your family name and initial, just for posterity’s sake.
Turn of the screw | QcoQce Cordless Automatic Wine Opener
By far the most difficult part of enjoying wine is opening the bottle. Heaven knows we’ve contorted and twisted ourselves into fishermen’s knots trying to use a corkscrew. We usually end up breaking the cork, letting little bits of it drop into the wine itself. It’s harrowing. But it ends now with this cordless wine opener from QcoQce (spelled as it sounds). All you do is push a very comfortable button, and the electronic corkscrew plunges into and extracts the cork before you can say “I’ve sliced my finger trying to open this bottle of Riesling! I don’t even like Riesling!”
Steering wheels | Wine Aroma Wheel Duo
One of the great joys of being a wine expert is refining how you experience taste. You don’t just say a particular wine is “fruity,” you say it “carries a tinge of tropical fruit with undertones of basil and traces of button mushroom.” But not every wine taster can discern those qualities on their own, which is where these aroma wheels come in. Created by a doctor at the University of California at Davis (go Aggies), these cards help novice wine tasters become more discriminating, knowledgeable, and painfully specific about whatever they’re experiencing with their wine at the moment.
There are thousands of wine decanters on the market. All of them do the same thing which, if you must be reminded, is hold wine. We looked for decanters with that extra something, and this one jumped out. It’s got a crazy looking spout, kind of a cross between twisty straw, a vacuum hose, and the number 6. It’s got a lot of surface area and portals so your wine can breathe, even as your breath is taken away by that insane spout.
Breathe it in | Aervana Original 1 Touch Luxury Wine Aerator
High-end red wine is almost always better when it’s aerated. That simply means you let it rest and “breathe” for about half an hour. But if you demand instant gratification, speed up the process with Aervana’s battery-powered aerator. Slip it on top of the bottle, press a button, and the Aervana does all the aerating it needs to do, sending it straight to a wine glass in a thin, powerful stream. Unfortunately, this product won’t work if you get your red wine in a space-bag from the local gas station.