Thursday, February 02, 2023

The gift of wine

by George Balling
| November 17, 2010 8:00 PM

As wine increases in popularity and the passion for it grows as well with those who enjoy it, so does the desire to give it as holiday gifts. The challenge for many though is what does our favorite wine drinker like? What if they don't like the bottle we buy for them? This is where your local wine professional can help not only with the selection of an appropriate and good bottle but also some alternatives in wine accessories.

If you are set on a bottle of wine as your gift, set a budget and let your favorite wine shop owner know how much you would like to spend. Also next time you are with your gift recipient try to notice what they like to drink, especially the varietal, and if possible the appellation the wine came from. Once you know these two parts of the equation your wine purveyor will be able to come up with some good recommendations to make your gift special. One last point is to keep an open mind about the actual producer. While picking a varietal and appellation your recipient likes is important, most wine folks enjoy trying new things.

Another exciting enhancement for your favorite enthusiast if you are giving wine is to purchase a vertical, or multiple vintages of the same wine. A magnum is also many times a fun choice.

Finally, consider buying a one year subscription to one of the wine clubs available at all of the local wine shops here in North Idaho. You will be able to choose the best club to purchase based on how much wine your friend or relative drinks, what they like and how often you want them to receive a bottle, and what you want to spend.

Moving beyond wine there are many great gifts available in wine accessories. Glassware is always a good choice. For the true wine aficionado Riedel crystal stemware is a favorite. Riedel designs each glass to go with a specific varietal of wine. Again if you know what varietal your recipient is most fond of two glasses specifically designed for that grape is a great idea.

If you want to have a little more fun the choice of wine glasses is virtually endless. Try ones with a school of fish etched into the glass with one fish on every glass going the wrong direction. Made right here in the US the glasses start at $11.95 per stem. These well made glasses are available with a cut as opposed to a rolled edge, the style most sought after by "wine geeks" for the preferred delivery of the wine onto the palate. Another fun choice is a wine glass hand painted with a moose head or fly fishing lures, pair with a bottle of French wine with a moose on the label that we have again this year and you have the perfect pack for an outdoorsman who loves wine.

Also fun choices are wine, martini, or champagne glasses with pewter etchings on the outside of a salmon, a moose, a deer or acorns.

Beyond glassware one of my personal favorite gifts is a high quality foil cutter used for removing the foil on the end of the bottle of wine, which is also known as the capsule. There are many inexpensive ones made that work but do not have a long life. The one that is a really nice gift though is a round stainless model manufactured by Vino. The spring loaded and replaceable blades are durable, and the cutter has a substantial weight showing the quality manufacturing for $20.

Aerators are also popular choices right now and are available from $20 up to $49.50 for the Vinturi. Also the choice of openers is virtually endless with fun ones available from under $10 and up.

There are many choices now too in great works of non-fiction about the wine world. Wine and War a book about the efforts of the French during World War II to hide their prized vintages from the invading German army is a fast paced great read for $14.95. Another popular choice is Billionaire's Vinegar the story of the fraudulent bottle from the collection of Thomas Jefferson auctioned by Christie's also for $14.95. Finally, the history of the Champagne house and the matriarch, Widow Clicquot is fascinating $25.99 in hard cover.

And there are many more choices from wine trivia games to decorative wine racks and art. Talk to your favorite wine shop owner and you will be thrilled with the choices you have for a great holiday gift for your favorite wine enthusiast.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or questions on wine you can email or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d'Alene Press.

George Balling is co-owner with his wife Mary Lancaster of the dinner party a wine and table top decor shop in Coeur d'Alene by Costco. George is also the managing judge of The North Idaho Wine Rodeo. .

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