10-12-2018 ~ 3 Comments

Gifts for those wine type people you know and… dread?

Wine type folks (*) are horrible to get gifts for. “Oh!” you’re possibly thinking, “Surely, I can simply give them the gift of wine? No?” Forget about that pronto as most any bottle, unless insanely researched, will probably be met with a polite “thank you” before it’s shuttled down to the cellar and potentially re-gifted. Your best bet is getting something that’s around wine as in something that’s not actually wine but will enhance the experience.

A couple of years back I made a wine gifts for sommeliers list that remains a popular article to this day, especially right about now as everyone probably knows someone who’s an aspiring sommelier and those gifts were designed specifically with that in mind. Not in that list but quite choice for the sommelier types is the under appreciated Ah-So–a necessary read if on the off chance you have no idea what that is as many rightly do not.

But let’s go deeper and look into some gifts that are admittedly kinda strange on some levels. The person receiving them may look at them in a bewildered state but down the road they will thank you ever so kindly for how amazing a gift they were. Won’t that be better than having a bottle of wine you gifted, given back to you via a 3rd or 4th party at some point? You bet it will.

Wine Certifications

Maybe your wine type is just getting started, but clearly very passionate about wine? If that’s the case, some well-designed wine certification courses might just be the thing because while someone passionate about wine is great, someone educated about wine is even better. Why? Because then you don’t have to be! This is admittedly a bit of a self-serving gift as it saves you having to attend the courses as you’ll have a live encyclopedia of wine at hand. It’s admittedly impossible to understand everything that’s out there but here’s a wine certification breakdown that hopefully explains this a good deal more.

Sherry barrel sunglasses

These don’t make wine any more or less enjoyable to drink (unless outdoors), but they’re mighty cool, wood-framed sunglasses with several of the models being made from various old wine barrels, including those in Sherry. This allows the opportunity to talk about Sherry as well which is something wine types love. I’ve have long picked up a pair from Vors Pantai but I’m not quite sure how it works if you’re one who needs all things optical to have a prescription.

A subscription to a new wine magazine

Wine writing is well, not an easy gig. Those of us who do it, wouldn’t trade it for the world, but the places to publish has been continually shrinking over the last 15 years. Thankfully, the tide is turning to some degree and some new publications have popped up recently. One is called, Root & Vine which had its premier issue recently and I’m happy to flog as I have an article in it. There are a number of other writers I really enjoy reading and respect as well. There’s also Cuvée Magazine that’s worked to focus on individual regions with each issue. Then there’s Club Oenologique that just saw its first issue emerge this fall as well. This looks to be a pretty serious, quarterly publication edited with the intention of being pleasing reading about classic wines as opposed to only technical info and points. Whichever one you choose, helping your wine type to appear to be in the know, is highly recommended as his/her contemporaries can be a mighty judgy lot.

Capped 60ml (2oz) bottles

Huh? Yeah. Really? Yes. This seems like a very, very strange gift but if you know someone who is either practicing blind tasting or running tastings, it’s actually great. These bottles allow you to break down a regular, 750ml bottle of wine into about 12 individual little bottles that seal airtight so that you don’t get oxygen exposure. Why in the hell would you want to do this? Because it allows someone to have the standard 20cl pours that they need for blind tasting. The wines keep for quite awhile in this format and it’s often a lot easier than the other method which is a Coravin, although more on that next. Find them

The Coravin

Not a cheap item but very much one that most wine folks will want at some point as it helps in blind tasting or just tasting various wines at points and not opening up scads of bottles. Read up on all the potential uses of this gizmo. The standard Model Two is a touch pricey at about $300€, but there’s also the Model One that shaves about 100 bucks off. It feels a touch more simple and Lego-ish but it does the exact same job. Your wine type might already have this in which case, Coravin has stocking stuffers a go go. A set of gas cartridges is always welcome. Or, the fancy needle kit as over time, I can attest that the needles warp a bit. Or then, the screw cap adapters as these are super, super useful for screwcap wines and do an excellent job of maintaining freshness. Find it

Blind Tasting Sleeves

These are fun for wine types but also practical if working on blind tasting skills. They’re also fun at BYOB dinner parties whether to play the blind tasting game or just to hide cheap bottles. I have the set linked to above and they’re definitely the best in terms of how they’re made except that they’re a bit tight on the fatter “Burgundy-style” bottles. Another option are the burlap tasting sleeves which have a bit more give for those fatter bottles. Find them

The Concise Guide to Blind Tasting 3rd Ed.

This is the newest release of what is simply the best book on blind tasting in existence. Neel Burton has done a tremendous job with this book and I don’t even know how we managed to do this ridiculous exercise in wine before he published this book. I guess a lot of trial and error… Read my review of the 2nd Edition if interested in how the book is set up and keep in mind that each edition gets bigger, better and more in depth in terms of knowledge and regions covered. Definitely a niche book for hardcore wine types and one that will be received with boundless appreciation. Find it

A trip to the Republic of Georgia!

Definitely not a budget option, but maybe in the long term, it is? This is where winemaking started 8,000 years ago and a trip to the original wine Mecca has to be high up on the list of any serious wine type you know. As I keep telling everyone out there, go now as every time I’ve been (now going on the year three year’s worth of visits), the prices keep getting higher and the places more crowded. Start with a proper book on Georgian wine and if feeling like the language and alphabet might be a bit daunting, hire a knowledgeable tour guide like my co-author on said book, Daria. It will be an unforgettable gift and an even more unforgettable trip. Maybe you can even “gift” yourself into it as you’ll eat and drink wonderfully while your wine type gets their geek on. Oh, maybe you need a wine suitcase given that Georgian wines are very hard to find outside Georgia?

What NOT to gift

Obviously, it’s quite easy to wrong with these types of people and above and beyond the seemingly simple yet treacherous gift of wine. Take the following into account in case they might have come up as possibilities:

  • Corkscrews – Absolutely no one who does anything in wine needs another one of these. Pulltap’s is an excellent corkscrew, but they’re often given away by countless wineries and events now. Although maybe you want one for yourself?
  • Weird-shaped decanters – This is getting out of control as it seems that the “innovation” in wine decanters (that device which aerates and “opens” your aged wines) is to make them all kinds of wonky shapes. A standard, lovely decanter looks like this but the ones that have been pushed lately look like this and are truly impossible to clean. Also, much like corkscrews, the wine type on your shopping list probably already has a decanter that they love and possibly sleep with on a pillow next to them. This is an item that evokes passion.
  • Wine Folly books – Yeah, they seem friendly and approachable and there may be some merit in them to get people a little more interested in wine to start with, but they are horridly inaccurate, simplistic, and sometimes flat-out wrong. Anyone more advanced in wine will have long moved on from these and yes, that includes the new “Magnum Edition” that appears to be a great deal of rehash.
  • Weird-colored wine – It was mentioned before about the perils of buying wine types wines in general but if you’re of a mind that it might be a bit “ironic” to buy one of these blue wines, lemme tell you, this is not wine for people who love wine.

* “Wine type folks” are people you know that are very, very much into wine. Essentially anyone with a large bottle fridge and/or a home cellar. Sommeliers as well, whether working or aspiring fall under the umbrella. You know “the type”…