Holiday gift guide 2010: The best wine and food stuff for the money

When a wine lover is on your gift list, a bottle of wine is predictable. It’s also tough to buy for other people’s taste. So take an easy (-ier) route and grab a gadget. They’re thoughtful, useful and they last. They are the wine gift that keeps on giving. My suggested list, mostly compiled from Amazon.com.
Also check out Ten must-haves for the gourmet kitchen

$10 – $30

Wine Drip Ring Set
Avoid the embarrassing wine drool down the bottle (and onto the tablecloth) with these handy gadgets that fit over the neck of the bottle. Inside is red colored felt. Casually elegant brushed silver and it comes in a gift box. $9 on Amazon.com

Vacuvin Stainless Steel Wine Saver Gift Set
It may not happen very often, but leftover wine does happen. However, you need to prevent oxygen from ruining the rest of the vino. These stoppers help keep wine fresh for up to 3 days. Comes with two rubber stoppers and two wine pourers to reduce spillage. $20 on Amazon.com

Screwpull Wine Opener
So you’re looking for a fabulous corkscrew that won’t take up so much room? Or maybe you don’t want to fork out $40 – $50? Screwpull is for you. I use my Screwpull every, single day. Really. Comes with a foil cutter. Taylor tested and approved. $25 on Amazon.com

Wine Glasses Shatterproof Stemless Glasses
Got a patio or deck? You definitely need these shatterproof glasses. Made from thin, high-quality plastic, you don’t have to stress about people smashing your precious pricey stemware (see below). Gift Set of 4, $11.95 on Amazon.com

Girls Night Out Painted Wine Glass Charms
Great, unique gift for the lady or ladies in your life. Put these on the stems of wine glasses so your guests can keep track of their glasses. Of course, this only helps if your guests can keep track of their charms. $15 on Amazon.com

All About Cats and Dogs Wine Glass Charms
For the cat lover in you or for a friend for a dinner party gift. Conversation pieces like these keep track of your glasses but also keep the Dog v. Cat debate active. Buy both and have people choose their favorite pet. $15 for Cat Charms or Dog Charms

Rapid Ice Cooler
This cold coozie fits around your wine bottle to chill it down quickly, or keep it chilled. Store it in the freezer until you need it and it chills down a bottle in about 30 minutes — faster than the fridge and not as much of a hassle as getting an ice bucket together. Taylor tested and approved. $11 from Vacuvin

Easy Pour Decanter
Why pay over $50 for one of the designer brand, fancy decanters? This one is nice and wide at the bottom to expose as much wine as possible to the air (which increases flavor). $26 from WMF. Think it might be hard to clean? Get the Wine Decanter Cleaner Brush too ($6.85).

Simply Bamboo 12 Bottle Wine Rack
When I saw this, I thought it was one of the coolest wine racks I’d ever seen. Made out of fast renewing and handsome bamboo. Great for gifts or showing off your favorite bottles on the counter. And way cheaper than most bamboo wine racks. $30 from Simply Bamboo

Wine glasses, $20 – $40

SIDE NOTE: In the wine world, there are Riedel people and there are Spiegelau people (among a few others). I fall squarely into the Spiegelau camp since they’re cheaper and basically the same quality stemware. And I don’t condone the glass for each type of wine trend (and there are many), but see the reasoning for white wine, Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses.

Spiegelau Burgundy Stemless Tumblers
To stem or not to stem? That’s a wine lover’s question. It’s basically a matter of taste but I wouldn’t use stemless at a stand-up party since people’s hands will warm up the wine. And we don’t want that. But they sure look cool on a table.
Set of four in a gift tube, $30

Spiegelau Bordeaux Stemless Tumblers
Set of four in a gift tube, $34

Spiegelau Vino Grande Burgundy
This glass sports a fatter, rounder bowl to allow sufficient wine swirling (why is that important?), often needed for tannic or “big” red wines. They’re sure handsome and sturdy too. It’s unorthodox, but I put mine in the dishwasher. Taylor tested and approved. Spiegelau Vino Grande Burgundy, Set of two, $19

Spiegelau Vino Vino Bordeaux Glass
Set of four, $32

Spiegelau Vino Vino Large White Wine Glass
Set of four, $39

Books
For the wine newbie, the perennial bible by Kevin Zraly, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course Amazon.com; for the geeks in your life, there’s the enlightening To Cork or Not to Cork, by George Taber ($12 on Amazon.com) — it chronicles the pros and cons of cork versus screwtop, or Been Doon So Long by Randall Grahm ($23 on Amazon.com, a zany, spectacularly entertaining “vinthology” written by the iconoclastic founder of Bonny Doon Winery.

$30 – $100

Vin-Aire Wine Aerator
This cool wine gadget bypasses the need for a decanter and sends your wine straight into aerated heaven. Improves the flavor, bouquet and softens tannins in red wines. The unique, patented design fits into the top of the bottle after pouring, preventing drips and a messy stand. Taylor tested and approved. $29.99 on $39.99 on Amazon.com

Electric Automatic Wine Opener
For the wine enthusiast that has everything… the lazy man’s corkscrew. And why not? Remove the foil and simply slip the device over the top of the bottle. Easy-schmeasy. And made by Brookstone, the people who invent innovative things. $39.95 from Brookstone

Hanging Oak Wine Glass Rack
Have so much stemware you don’t have any more cabinet space? Or maybe you have a small kitchen and need to employ the space overhead? This is an affordable solution to your problem. This finished oak piece comes with chains for the suspension. Holds up to 18 glasses. $60 from Wine Enthusiast

Iceless Wine Chiller
Another Brookstone gift for those who “WANT IT NOW”! A super fancy, tabletop gadget for chilling (or warming) 40 different types of red, white or sparkling wines. It also keeps the bottle at that consistent temperature so you can return it there after pouring. Way cool. $99 from Brookstone

Wine Coolers

Avanti 16-Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
One of the most frequent questions I get from fans is what wine fridge to buy. It’s an expensive purchase, so I’m not surprised people reach out for advice. I’ve owned an Avanti Wine Cooler (the 30-bottle below) for 6 years with no problems.  $113.00 from Avanti

Avanti 30 Bottle Digital Wine Cellar
$599 from Avanti

28-Bottle Silent Wine Refrigerator
$349.99 from The Wine Enthusiast

Danby Wine Cooler – 75 Bottle
I got this as a Christmas gift two years ago and struggle to keep it stocked. It’s a tough job, right?  It’s almost as big as a normal fridge and works great. Has space for large format bottles and fat Champagne bottles too. $782 from Danby

Happy Holidays!

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