Sunday, December 17, 2006

What Are You Getting Your Favorite Oenophile?

With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas coming at the weekend, many of us are looking for last-minute gifts. It seemed like the right moment to put up a few suggestions of gifts for wine lovers that they can't drink. Most of these (like most of the wine I review) are under $20, and I've linked each to an online site that (as of yesterday) had the items in stock. Of course, you may find something similar in a local shop and save yourself the shipping costs. Then again, you can just click on over and save yourself the driving aggravation!

I've broken these gifts into categories, but those shouldn't be seen as restrictive in any way--they were just a way to bring some organization into what would otherwise have been a simple list. You can check out my earlier recommendations for gifts for wine lovers by clicking here.

For the beginning wine lover:

Andrea Immer Robinson's Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier, from ($18.95). This was the book that got me started, and though a relative oldie, it's still a goodie. Great on varietal characteristics, old/new world taste comparisons, and food-pairing advice.

For the practical wine lover:

These may not scream romance, but they're gifts that any wine-lover will appreciate and use daily. Much better than buying them more wine glasses, or a bottle of wine they may not like. These washing-up products are available from IWA and many other retailers. The brushes are specially shaped to clean stemware and decanters, and the stemware racks help you avoid the problem of opening the dishwasher only to find that your beautiful glasses are now beautiful, stemless glasses.

Crystal Washing Brushes from IWA ($19.95)

Stem Savers from IWA ($18.95)

For the wine lover who entertains:

Dinner Party Journal from Gifts for Professionals ($27.95)

Evan Goldstein's Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier's Practical Advice for Pairing Wine with Food from ($19.77)

Both of these gifts are ideal for master entertainers. The journal has plenty of space to record menus, guestlists, seating plans, and of course wines served. (you'll have to go to the site to enlarge it--clicking on it here won't do any good!) Goldstein's book is the best I've seen at not only telling you which wine goes with which food, but also why the pairing works. Highly recommended.

For wine lovers who collect wines, or for red wine lovers who decant wines:

I don't do much decanting, but I probably should. I have a beautiful decanter I received as a gift, and one of my resolutions for 2007 is to decant my red wines more regularly. I found some nice, everyday decanters made from the prestigious Riedel firm over at The Wine Enthusiast, along with some stylish decanter stoppers. The stoppers would also be an excellent gift for klutzes like me who have broken every stopper they ever possessed.

Spherical Glass Decanter Stoppers from The Wine Enthusiast (set of 2, $24.95)

Riedel Merlot Decanter from The Wine Enthusiast (on sale, $18.95)

For wine lovers who also love gadgets:

Most of us serve our white wines too cold and our reds too warm. This nifty gadget (there is a pricier one with a key ring attachment, though it scares me to think of people whipping these out of their pockets at restaurants and parties), enables you to check the temperature of wine inside the bottle before you pour it. A gadget, but one that you might conceivably use!

VinTemp Infrared Wine Thermometer from IWA ($24.95)

For crafty wine lovers:

I have mountains of corks that I can't part with. They sit in bowls, roll around in drawers, and are a complete nuisance. This kit provides you with all you need to turn the mess into something you can use. They also have larger format trays and bulletin boards, but I think the trivet is less overwhelming!

Wine Cork Trivet Kit from The Wine Enthusiast ($19.95)

For wine lovers who love to read:

Ruch Reichl's History in a Glass: Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet from ($17.71)

Jay McInerney's A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine from ($16.32)

There are lots of wine reference books out there that convey information like what to buy, what to eat with what you drink, and what to collect. These books aren't like that--they are meant for reading. Beautifully written and fascinating, they collect essays on wine experiences that will transport you into private cellars and public tastings. They are also recently released, and may not be on your favorite oenophile's shelf yet.

For wine lovers who are physically fit and/or mow lawns:

The Wine Aroma Wheel T-Shirt from the UCDavis Bookstore ($19.95) comes proudly emblazoned with Ann C. Noble's trademark aroma wheel. The aroma wheels are sold out at the moment, or they would have gone on this list, too. But here's a gift that says "I'm a wine lover."

Happy shopping! And if you have any further suggestions please leave them in a comment.

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