7 gift ideas for the wine-lover on your list
Christmas is coming! It is just two-and-half weeks before the Big Day, and I know that at the top of your list is what to get your favorite enophile. Here are some suggestions, from free to pricey.
1. Vivino is a free app that lets you learn about a wine on the fly before spending the money on it. Using the app, take a picture of the label. The app will find the wine online and provide you with a write up, ratings and reviews. It also lets you rate and review the wine yourself. It’s perfect for scoping out a potential purchase while standing in the wine aisle.
2. Great Northwest Wine (www.greatnorthwestwine.com) is a free online weekly newsletter focusing on (as the name implies) wine in the Northwest. It includes interviews, ratings, and interesting articles about wine, winemaking and winemakers.
3. A wine club membership is a good way to enjoy the wine from a favorite winery, typically at a discount. The membership itself is usually free, but does commit you to accept a certain number of bottles for a minimum period of time. The wine is usually discounted and often offered to club members before being released to the public. A membership may also entitle you to discounts and special events at the tasting room. A word of caution: many wine clubs in this area release at about the same time, which can result in multiple credit card charges at about the same time if you belong to more than one club.
4. A good corkscrew is invaluable. A good corkscrew won’t cost a lot, but should feature a Teflon coated worm and a double hinge on the lever. My favorite is Pulltap’s Double-Hinge Waiter Style, and costs as little as $7.00 online.
5. Another inexpensive option is a carafe. Like a corkscrew, these can be, but don’t need to be, expensive. Elegant, functional carafes are available for under $50. My criteria for a good carafe are simple: a neck wide enough to pour into without spilling; a stable base, and ability to clean. An important accessory is a bottle cleaner, which looks like a giant pipe cleaner. This device bends and can reach otherwise inaccessible nooks and crannies.
6. "Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine" by Madeline Puckett is a great book that includes descriptions of all the major wine varieties. What is cabernet sauvignon supposed to take like? What are the typical flavors of merlot? Having this book around will help you hone your palate and your wine knowledge in general.
7. For the wine geek who has everything, consider a wine aroma kit. These are not cheap: they start at around $70 and quickly rise into the hundreds, depending on the number of aromas included. But, there is nothing better to improve your wine “vocabulary.”
And, of course, you'll never go wrong with a nice bottle of wine! Merry Christmas — or the nondenominational holiday of your choice — to all!
— Kevin Breck is a Jacksonville freelance writer and winemaker in training. Reach him at email@example.com.