What Or How To Buy Stunning Christmas Gifts For Wine Lovers
Once again, it's mistletoe and holly time, and we're getting all kinds of asks for help deciding what to buy for those wine pros and wine newbies in your lives. Here's what we've come up with, which is sure to please even the most difficult.
Even the most casual of wine drinkers need a basic decanter. Decanters are used primarily to aerate wine. Made of glass, decanters have a smaller neck and wider body to allow the wine to come in contact with air. The increased oxygen exposure to the wine greatly improves the taste of the wine by softening astringent tannins and letting the fruit and floral aromas come out. People who need instant gratification aren't generally pleased about waiting an hour or so for that first sip of wine. Believe me, and it's worth the wait.
Small Decanter: Used primarily for white wines, and lighter-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir.
Medium Decanter: Used for, well, medium-bodied wines like Merlot and Sangiovese.
Large Decanter: Used for full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo.
Depending on your wine preference, purchasing a medium and large format decanter may be the way to start. Decanters now come with fancy built-in aerators, which are showy and impressive but not required for a decanter to do its job.
Decanters are available in a variety of places. So check out the selection in your favorite home goods store or Amazon. Amazon has several viable choices.
We love lots and lots of books, as a matter of fact. Here are 3 of our favorite wine books for those wine geeks who like to read.
Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm This is a great guide for those new to wine. Easy to read, with easy-to-absorb bits of information about wine in general, wine pairing, how to taste wine….the gamut! A great guide for those who are new to wine.
Grapes & Wines by Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand This highly acclaimed book should be in every wine lover's library. Containing memorable descriptions of 350 grape varieties in an easy-to-use A-Z format, it delves into wine history, places, people, styles, and flavors and offers hundreds of recommendations. A big bonus is the beautiful photographs, charts, and consumer information for every grape variety.
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil (Third Edition) The Wine Bible is THE wine reference that is beloved and used by wine newcomers to oenophiles, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and industry insiders. Think of this book as a wine travel guide filled with informative photography and fun wine facts. The Wine Bible should be on everyone's shelf. Full disclosure: I had the privilege of attending several of Karen MacNeil's wine classes when attending the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, and she is an outstanding educator and author.
Ever want to know what a wine fault really smells like? Or, how to develop your olfactory senses to sniff out the mysteries of wine? Check out the inventory of scent kits at Le Nez Du Vin and become a budding sommelier in no time.
Wine Openers, Foil Cutters and Stoppers
Someone just gave you a beautiful bottle of wine. How to open it? There is a process, and with the right tools, it's a snap.
Foil Cutters: Foil cutters work by placing it over the wine bottle foil (top cover), squeezing the sides or handles together until the inside edges pierce the foil, then rotating either the foil cutter or bottle around until a full circle cut is made of the foil. Then release the pressure, remove the cut foil, and dispose of it.
As you can see, there are many different types. We recommend something easy to grip for those just starting their wine journey.
Cork Removers: There are a variety of cork removers or pullers that you can use to remove the cork in the bottle. There are two styles, manual and electric. We like the manual type best.
This type of cork puller incorporates three tools into one. The first is a small knife to cut and peel the foil on the bottle. The second is a corkscrew that you twist into the cork. Tip, don't twist the corkscrew all the way into the cork; leave some above the cork. The third is a lever at one end of the tool that uses that extra space the corkscrew has left for you.
You want to find a cork remover that is comfortable in your hand with a sturdy corkscrew (called a worm). We recommend not opting for the least expensive one you can find, as this is probably the most important wine tool you'll use.
Wine Stoppers: These little gems can run the gamut from fancy/schmancy to basic plastic. You want one that will keep the air out of the bottle.
In the middle of the picture are a black pump and its related plastic plug. The plug has a one-way air valve, so when you place the pump on top of the plug and pump it, you extract air from the bottle. This is what we recommend as a stopper (it looks much more complicated than it is!).
So, there you have it; some gift ideas for those in your life who are obsessed with wine or at least like drinking it!