Sunday, December 23, 2007

Last Minute Gifts for Your Favorite Wine Geeks

Put a bunch of wine lovers in a room and you're sure to get a spirited discussion especially when it comes to characteristics of Oregon pinots or the best vintage of Burgundy. But one thing they'll agree on is the large number of useless gadgets out there billed as "gifts" for the wine lover. Most have drawers full of bottle stoppers or rotten corkscrews gathering dust because no one told Santa what wine folks really want. So, here are a few last minute ideas for what to skip and what to buy if you love someone who loves wine.

Corked -- Bottle Stoppers: Who actually uses those decorative bottle stoppers that come in fancy sets for tabletop display? They look pretty, but for your average wine lover, even with the rubber ridges, they're no more useful than the cork that was in the bottle to begin with.

Quaffable -- Vacu-Vin: Skip the fancy bottle tops and buy your wine lover a Vacu-Vin with extra non-fancy rubber stoppers. The basic pump comes with two stoppers for under $15 and is worth its weight in wine for creating a vacuum seal needed to keep an opened bottle preserved for drinking a day or two later.

Corked -- Countertop Bottle Chillers: Not only do I not need a countertop appliance only capable of only chilling 1-2 bottles of white wine to drinking temperature, I don't need chilling wine to take 25 minutes. (The advertised time to bring a room temperature bottle of white wine down to "drinking temperature".) While it's useful for regulating your wine temp to the perfect degree if you're choosy about drinking your reds only at 63 degrees, it's not as efficient for simply chilling as a champagne bucket and ice. (If you watch Mythbusters, you'll know that in tests, an ice bucket with ice and a little water will chill a six pack of beer to near freezing in about 15 minutes.) More stylish, faster, and a lot less expensive than the $100-150 bottle chillers go for.

Quaffable -- Wine Fridges: Want to *really* look like a rockstar? Spend the money on the one you love and go for a wine fridge. Sizes range from a few bottles to a few hundred in everything from wood to stainless steel cases. As you go up in size, you can adjust temperatures by zone or section for ideal storage of reds, whites, and champagnes. They're perfect as freestanding units, wall units, or even installed in a closet or pantry.

Corked -- Champagne Cork Catcher: While generally a fan of all things Screwpull, this one is a mystery to me -- a champagne cork catcher, nickel plated and monogrammed, no less. Why, oh why, do I need a $50 apparatus to do the same job a dishtowel or napkin can do? Spend the same money on a decent bottle of champagne. (I think you're more likely to put an eye out by mishandling the cork catcher than the cork itself!)

Quaffable -- Useful Gadgets: For wine folks who drink often and entertain, there are a bunch of little necessities we love but are often losing. (My last Trojan fell down the garbage disposal. Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! I mean a helmet shaped champagne bottle stopper. It helps keep the fizz in!) And a girl can never have too many foil cutters. (I seem to lose them easily and they get dull over time). Other useful items? A decanter strainer for older wines, Riedel "O" tumblers, and even decanter cleaning sponges. And a good corkscrew can never be an unhappy find. And even replacement spiral wires (called "worms") are terrific for the wine enthusiast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. Most of my wine stoppers have been relegated to the kitchen junk drawer but..I just came across the coolest real *Snow Globe* wine stoppers at Pottery Barn and just had to have them!!!