Oh… sweet sweaty Bacchus, it’s happened again, hasn’t it? Thanksgivings in the US and Canada have passed along with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Impulse Buy Tuesday. And you now painfully realize that another year is coming to a close and another season of forced gift giving is upon us.
That tech-bro cousin with the stupid wine app on his phone or that friend who works as a “saw-mall-yay” in a burger bar are both in need of gifts. Yes, you need to figure out what the hell to get a person deep into wine that isn’t a) more wine or b) a shitty, vaguely wine-related gadget like those in the picture above.
This may be your own quiet hell, but I’ve put together a list of potential items that might just save you or at least help you to fake caring when you’ve being lectured to about the fact that Carignan and Carménère are not the same grape and dammit, how could you confuse them again… while you undoubtedly say in your head “Ugh, wine person, take this gift and let me drink in peace!”
Wine Books or Magazine Subscriptions
Throughout the year, I occasionally review wine books. Some are great and some not so much but it’s still worthwhile to support writers on these niche topics as they’re written by the most dedicated of wine lovers and are pretty much always produced at a financial loss, solely in the spirit of sharing something they’re passionate about.
- “The wines of Northern Spain“ is one of the first books to come out in a very long time that does a solid job of documenting a big chunk of the current Spanish wine scene, so that’d be one of my top choices for this year. And of course, I’m all for promoting more Spanish wine drinking among all friends and relatives.
- “Darjeeling: A History of the World’s Greatest Tea“ because if someone isn’t reading about wine, they’re going to want to read about something wine-esque and this more than fits the bill. It may however create a new monster for you to deal with: the Tea Geek. Believe me, I know very well, just how annoying this individual is in case the four drawers below my Tea Station at home didn’t attest to this.
- “The 24-Hour Wine Expert“ which is hands down the finest introductory wine text there is to help people get a handle on the vast subject, which is why I’ve often recommended it. If you have someone just getting into wine (or maybe even for yourself), definitely have a look at it.
- “Vinologue Priorat and Montsant“ regional wine guides or “Georgia, a Guide to the Cradle of Wine“. Or, buy all three for Catalunya. I’m biased in recommending these, but I’d hope they encourage people to visit the regions as well!
- “World of Fine Wine“ – There are many wine magazines out there, but this remains one of the most consistent in terms of writing and editorial standards. Plus! You can also get it in a very nice (and less expensive) on-the-go digital format.
- Hudin.com subscription – Give the gift to yourself or anyone you deem awesome as this site is subscription based and supporting it supports independent content.
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! 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 and let you know just what exact certificate to gift.
I’m surprised at how many people still haven’t heard of the Eto. This quite ingenious device works very, very well to drink a bottle of wine over several days–if one desires. The price isn’t as amazing as when it was first released for the Kickstarter campaign but it’s still extremely handy to have. A high recommendation, especially as few people in the US seem to have come upon them. Buy directly from the Eto folks though as there of course some knock offs floating around now.
If you’re really, really stumped you can always get any person who’s into wine, well… actual wine as dangerous as this may be. But support your local wine shop in the process! Don’t go grab a gift card at Waitrose or Bevmo or Total Wine or whatever it is that’s a big chain in your neck of the woods. Go down to that kooky guy or gal who opened up something geeky near where you live and buy from them or at least get a gift certificate there if they offer them. Remember, if we lose the precious cavistes we’ll be lost.
While at the shop, look into picking up a bottle of Sherry. It’s hip, it’s cool, it pairs with just about anything and often people really into wine pass over it for some strange reason. If nothing else, it can serve as an excuse to be invited over to their house for a tasty evening.
Here are a couple of practical options that I’ve recommended before but that should be repeated again.
- Cooling sleeves. Instead of having to pick up ice (or remember to freeze some in the first place), you can just have a wine bottle sleeve sitting in the freezer instead. Anyone who likes their whites or rosés consistently cold will love one (or more) of these.
- Wine bottle shopping bags. For anyone who schleps wine around a city, a handy bag for six bottles is a pretty solid option. Much better than everything banging around in a regular shopping bag and the look someone gives you at the shop when they say, “Oh, you’ve come prepared!” and they realize you really like wine, is solid in a non-solid world.
- The Ah-So. Ah-What? Yes, the Ah-So. You may know it as a “The Butler’s Thief” or simply, “The pointy, possibly tetanus-ridden thing at the back of the drawer”. But for anyone into wine, this is an indispensable tool for getting out corks on old bottles that a regular corkscrew would otherwise obliterate. Also, it’s a fact that your wine person won’t have 2,000 of them already like they do with regular corkscrews.
- Corkscrews are always a bad idea as they’re unoriginal. But if you’re determined to go there, please stay away from novelty or personalized corkscrews with the name of the person and instead buy the corkscrew to end all corkscrews: The Code 38. Not cheap at all but anyone into wine will tell you it’s the finest way to yank a cork out of a bottle there is.
WHAT NOT TO GIFT
For some reason, the idea of a bottle sweater (see above) comes up more than it should when buying gifts for wine people so here are a few things to just simply avoid at all costs:
- Fun Corkscrews – Just don’t go there. No one needs a non-articulating corkscrew with a mustache. No one.
- Wine Charms – Again, a no-go zone. If you think you need a little thingy on your glass at parties so that no one drinks your wine, then your parties aren’t fun enough! Also, have you heard of marking pens?
- 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 and ridiculous to look at. 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.
- Cutesy bottle stands – Wine collections get out of control fast. So, most anyone serious about wine has some kind of kick-ass storage solution for hundreds of bottles or even a bottle fridge. Some single bottle thing will undoubtedly be re-gifted.
- Whiskey decanter – They keep popping up on TV shows these days, but unless you live at the edge of the bayou and sip on mint juleps at sun down, these shouldn’t be gifted, especially as there as so many forms and while the classic might seem amazing, everyone has different tastes in how they want to store their whiskey when not drinking it straight from the bottle.
- 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 flat-out wrong. Anyone more advanced in wine will have long moved on from these. Besides, you should not be promoting badly researched wine writing.