Wine Press: Holiday gifts for wine lovers other than wine

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You would think it would be easy to buy a gift for someone who really loves wine.

All you have to do is buy some wine for them, right?

That’s definitely true. As someone who loves wine, I will absolutely say without reservations that I love getting wine as a gift. My parents give me and my wife a case of wine every Christmas that my dad spends all year carefully picking out, one bottle at a time. And I always look forward to getting these carefully selected wines.

But sometimes, it’s nice to shake things up a little.

So what should you get the wine lover in your family other than a bottle of wine?

Here are a few tried-and-true holiday gift suggestions that should please anyone you know who appreciates wine.

And if they aren’t happy, just blame me. Journalists have thick skins.

Hope you enjoy.

WINE-RELATED GIFT IDEAS OTHER THAN WINE

WINE BOOKS

There are many ways to learn more about wine – from podcasts to weekly wine columns like this one. But there’s also something to be said for settling in with a good book about wine, especially if it’s a long winter’s night and you have a glass of wine in the other hand.

Fortunately, this year was a great vintage for great books about wine. The big one getting all the attention is “The New French Wine” by Jon Bonne ($100 Suggested Retail Price). This massive, two-volume, bright pink book about wine in France digs deep into different wine regions and the people who make these wines, including many off-the-beaten patch producers.

Academie Du Vin consistently publishes great books about wine year in and year out. This year’s crop includes two great offerings – “From Bordeaux To The Stars” by Jean-Michel Cazes ($48 SRP) and “On Burgundy”($45). The first book is a memoir by Cazes, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 88 and who was the longtime owner and winemaker at Bordeaux’s famed Chateau Lynch-Bages. “On Burgundy” is a collection of articles and essays about France’s famed Burgundy region by a wide range of writers.

Another entertaining wine book that came out this past year is “The Wine List” by Grant Reynolds ($28 SRP). This easy-to-read book takes an innovative approach. Each short chapter (most are only one or two pages long) focuses on a specific wine from a specific vintage. This might sound stuffy. But Reynolds’ approach is fun, lively and informative.

And if you’re looking for reference books, you can never go wrong with Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book ($18 SRP), which comes out every year and includes an amazing amount of information about wine in this truly pocket-sized book.

CORKSCREWS

Let me be the first to say you can never have too many corkscrews. They also often seem to go missing whenever I’m looking for one to open a bottle, which is why I often have them stashed all over the house.

There’s also a great deal of debate about which corkscrews are the best ones. Some people prefer the wing-shaped corkscrews. Others like electric-powered ones or lever corkscrews. Personally, though, I’m partial to a double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew. Once you learn how to use one, I find that they’re the best ones for opening a bottle of wine without breaking the cork.

WINE GLASSES

Along with the debate about which corkscrew is the best one, another hot topic is wine glasses. Some people go crazy when it comes to which glasses to serve certain wines in depending on the wine. Stemmed glasses or stemless? Special glasses for white wines or red wines, Bordeaux or Burgundy or Champagne?

Personally, I think most wine glasses do a great job. I even once wrote about how big a difference different wine glasses make when it comes to how wine tastes. But for gift-giving purposes, I will say that wine glasses are another great gift. And you can never have too many wine glasses. The big reason why? Some of them will eventually get broken. Trust me. I know.

WINE DECANTERS

A decanter is a glass, vase-like device that you pour wine into before serving the wine. A decanter serves several purposes. First, by pouring the wine into the decanter, you expose the wine to oxygen and allow it to breathe. This is important for certain, bolder red wines in particular. Some wines need to breathe in order to release their flavors and their full potential.

But be careful when decanting and buying a decanting. Some wines – especially certain, fragile older ones – lose all their flavor when they’re decanted. And while you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a decanter, my advice would be to spend about $50 on a decanter with a wide bottom and flared spout. These classic decanters perfectly aerate the wine and look great on anyone’s dining room table. Best of all, if the wine lover in your family already has a decanter, they’ll be more than happy to have one more.

OTHER SUGGESTIONS

Still looking for a last-minute wine-related gift idea? A few other suggestions include an ice bucket to chill sparkling wine bottles, a DIY corkboard that someone can make using leftover wine corks, a vintage wine poster (although the prices for these works of art have skyrocketed in recent years) and a Coravin Wine System ($140 to $240 SRP), a needle-like device that allows you to extract a small amount of wine from the bottle without removing the cork. Just be aware that once you do pierce the cork with a Coravin, you should drink the wine within the next month or so, which is plenty of time for someone to enjoy that wine and all the other wine-related gifts they received this holiday season.

Cheers!

Wine Press by Ken Ross appears on Masslive.com every Monday and in The Republican’s Weekend section every Thursday.

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