21-12-2015

Wine gifts and tools for the sommelier & collector

As it often the case when people reach this point in December (or in about seven days in Europe for Three Kings), you have a list of people you might still need gifts for and they’ve got you scratching your head because they’re one of those, you know, fancy wine people. If you do indeed have one of these people, maybe it’s even worse and you have a sommelier or a collector that’s got you stumped.

It’s tough to recommend getting them a bottle of wine as there is a high chance of it being scoffed at. You shouldn’t worry about this as you can tell them it was either the expensive Napa Cabernet you knew nothing about or a shitty sweater. When put in to those terms, they just might get your point, suck it up, and fruitcake the wine on to someone else. Who knows, they might even drink it.

If you’re still of a mind to try and give them something from the wine world that they might not have (but seriously, they probably already do) then here is a list of suggestions.

For starters, take a look at this list of sommelier tools. If you don’t want to take the time to do that, then just look for a nice corkscrew, an Ah-so, polishing cloths (more of a “stocking stuffer”/”I hate you” option), or a decanter. You can be rest assured that something in there will at least be useful. The corkscrew will probably be the least so ironically as anyone who works in wine usually has about 50 of the damned things because it is a rule that you absolutely, under no circumstances refuse a free corkscrew as inevitably your favorite one will get “borrowed” at some point.

If none of those options grabbed your attention, then maybe a Champagne stopper. While they don’t really stop oxidation, they are indeed a bit useful as they keep the carbonation a long enough to eke out just a touch more fun from your bubbly.

Picking up a set of blind wine tasting sleeves tells your sommelier or collector, “I get your wine obsession and I honor it.” You know that they do things like brown bag wines with like-minded friends so give them a set of these to take their tasting exercises to that next level.

What says, “I don’t get your wine obsession at all” is a wine aerator. They don’t really work and are a gimmick. Anyone who loves wine has (or will now be given) a decanter. Wine folks also know how to swirl wine in their glass for the same effect. Better yet, there’s the centuries-old trick of just enjoying the wine over an evening. Holy crap…

While a wine stain remover might send a mixed message, anyone who loves wine will begrudgingly accept it because we spill. We spill a lot in fact which is why we usually wear all black (beard optional, sleeve tats not) and don’t smile because our teeth are stained too.

If you think a bottle fridge is a good idea, make sure to get a big one so that it can’t be returned easily. But don’t one that’s too big so that it will encourage your wine loving gift recipient to invite you over to help “clear the archives” from time to time. Bring your own wine stain remover lest you really look like a mooch.

Then we come to the ultimate gift for wine people on your list, the Coravin. This is a tricky gift, mainly because the individual in question will probably already have one as this little device has changed a huge amount of the wine world. Long gone are the days when you needed to finish a Côte de Nuits Grand Cru in one evening lest it spoil. Now you can be miserly and drink a needle drag of it for months. Probably not unreasonable if you’ve dropped 300 large on one bottle of wine. The good thing about potentially giving a Coravin is that the Model 2 just came out and nothing says, “I care about you so much!”/”I don’t know what the hell to give you!” like blowing $350 on a gadget for someone. The bad thing is that unlike finding the perfectly-sized bottle fridge, giving one of these most definitely means you will not be sharing in any of the wine goodness. It should really be called the Mine-a-vin. Toss in a pile of gas cartridges for extra love points.

Of course, an easy option is to pick up one of our Vinologue wine guides because they’re such a specialized publication for people who really love wine that you’re bound to be loved for it. Plus, there’s the chance you might be asked to tag along on the journey to one of the regions we cover.

So that’s a rundown for you. Hopefully it helps. If you’re still really stumped, get a Monopol Barolo corkscrew. Your gift recipient probably won’t use it but it will look cool in their pile of implements and they’ll most likely appreciate that.