For more of our editors’ gift picks, read our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Owen Dugan, features editor and chocolate columnist, includes selections for the most discerning cacao lover on your list.
Delysia Chocolate Advent Calendar
delysia.com, 7 ounces/$75
Nicole Patel's Delysia in Austin combines quality and plain-old fun. Each of the 25 truffles in this Advent calendar highlights a different flavor from around the world. One has spices from the German spiced cookies lebkuchen; another the warm spices of Mexican hot chocolate. Taste them blind and try to figure out what the flavor might be. The failure rate is high, but it's a happy game to lose.
K+M Collection From Keller Manni Chocolate
kellermannichocolate.com, 55g bars/ $9–$10
K+M Chocolate is a collaboration between chef Thomas Keller and Armando Manni, whose fantastic oils (below) have been used at Keller restaurants for years. Their new line includes straight-up origin bars (such as an 85% Hacienda from Ecuador) and surprising added flavors (one features yuzu; another truffle fries).
The Oil of Life Olive Oil
Some of the K+M bars are made using Manni’s oils in place of the usual cacao fat, but the new ones are not. If you miss the oil, you might order up a bottle from his new Oil of Life line. Believe it or not, this is his entry-level oil. It might not have the power and complexity of his top-shelf bottles, but it is still in the upper strata of the category. He’s as passionate and obsessive about quality control as Keller and it shows.
Messermeister Adventure Knife
The handle of the Adventure Knife is big for a reason: This tool folds neatly away like a pocket knife, but when you open it up, you get a sharp and balanced chef's blade that's perfect for work on the go. When you’re done, give it a quick wipe, fold it, throw it in the bag and wash it when you get home. This knife merges hand-forged quality and innovative utility in a pocket knife writ very large. It does its job well.
Assistant tasting coordinator and Restaurant Awards director Cassia Schifter has some great ideas to bring to your party host.
Lynn & Liana Bamboo Round Serving Tray
A classic cheese board is great, but I often like to fill mine to the brim with accoutrements such as fresh fruit and nuts, and having a wall on the serving dish is key to preventing dried cherries from getting smushed into your rug, speaking from experience. This looks like a typical bamboo serving tray but as more gets eaten the beautiful marble design underneath is revealed.
Udarely Grace Glass With Stem
udarely.com, $85 for set of two
Champagne flutes have many fans, but to be honest, nothing makes me feel fancier and more festive than drinking from a coupe. I love the gold rim touch on this version. Also, the company guarantees to replace any products broken during shipping (although around drinkers like me, shipping is usually the safest part of a glass's journey).
Trufflin Raw Black Truffle Honey
trufflin-nyc.com, 2.2 ounces/$14
This New York City–based Black and women-owned business takes all things truffle to a whole new level, and I’m obsessed. Not only do they sell whole truffles, but they also make truffle-infused ranch, sriracha and buffalo sauce. My personal favorite, though, is the black truffle honey. In my mind, truffle honey and Stilton on fresh baked crostini might be the world’s most perfect bite. Doesn’t hurt to pair it with tawny Port either.
Maldon Sea Salt
maldonsalt.com, 240 grams/$8
Every single year since before I can remember, my family has watched It’s a Wonderful Life during the holidays. It is an oft-quoted Schifter family staple. So, if you are going to someone’s new house and feel the urge to bless it in the same way Mary does with “bread, that this house may never know hunger; salt, that life may always have flavor; and wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever,” this is the salt you want to use.
Vacherin Mont D’Or
murrayscheese.com, 350 grams/$54
Back when I worked at Murray’s Cheese in New York, the first sign of the holiday rush was the arrival of Vacherin Mont D’Or. This cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland is available only from October to April. Wrapped in spruce bark, this lusciously gooey cheese has the perfect woodsy note to evoke holiday cheer. People go nuts for it, and I must confess it’s worth the hype.
Robert Taylor, assistant managing editor of WineSpectator.com, is a cheese savant with tasty ideas for happy hour.
RBT Flask-Style Decanter
Back in 2007, I wrote that the Erlenmeyer flask is the preferred decanter in the Taylor household, and it still is. Nowadays, dedicated barware brands are making flask-inspired wine decanters, my favorite of which comes from RBT, the stylish new imprint from the brand that brought us the Rabbit corkscrew. RBT's glass decanter is complemented by a strainer/pourer insert and a brass-accented wood base.
Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère AOP
The Kaltbach imprint is a growing high-end line of fine Swiss cheeses from global cheese giant Emmi-Roth. The Gruyère is the best of the line and is aged for at least one year in Switzerland’s mile-deep Kaltbach Cave. It’s a connoisseur’s Gruyère, tipping the scale heavily into the nutty, umami end of the fruit-to-nut spectrum, with an appealingly salty, sour undercurrent.
Torres Iberian Ham Potato Chips
These ham-flavored chips became an instant obsession and now make regular appearances on my cheese and charcuterie boards. They're crisp and melt-in-your-mouth thin, and the ham flavor is intense. Serve with an aged Manchego curado or Parmigiano-style hard cheese for a one-two punch.
Weige Paring Knife
Travis Weige, of Austin, Texas, makes all of his knives to order (there’s an eight-month waiting list right now), and the process starts with a detailed hand measurement to ensure that each knife handle is crafted specifically to its owner’s grip. Weige’s bespoke knives are all made from S35VN steel, and customers choose everything from the wood, bone or acrylic handle to the pins, bolsters, and so on.
One relatively new cheese that caught my attention this year is Adarré, a Basque country mixed-milk sheep and goat cheese from leading French cheesemonger-affineur Rodolphe Le Meunier. This natural rind beauty is aged for about six months and has an effusively fruity paste with nutty undertones and a hint of crunchy crystals—you can cut the rind off, but I love this one nose to tail.
Executive editor Jeffery Lindenmuth has suggestions for active wine lovers who enjoy sipping a great bottle poolside or fireside.
Yeti Roadie 24 Hard Cooler
Why should beer have all the fun? When it comes time to hit the road, I always reach for this extra-tall cooler, specifically designed to accommodate bottles of white, rosé or bubbles up to 13-inches tall. At the same time, it fits snugly behind most car seats. Like all Yeti coolers, it seems to defy physics, able to keep the contents icy cold for days in even the hottest extremes. Available in a variety of colors including Harvest Red, inspired by red wine.
Benchmade Table Knife Set
benchmade.com/cutlery, $600 for set of four
If you enjoy Bordeaux and Napa Cab with juicy slabs of beef, you'll adore these American-made knives. These are the first entry into cutlery for premium outdoor knifemaker Benchmade. Customization options include blade and handle color and laser engraving, and you get “Lifesharp” service: Mail them to Benchmade, and they'll be returned to you cleaned, oiled and sharpened.
Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization, by Edward Slingerland
Little Brown Spark, 384 pages, $23
Get your book club off to a great start in 2022. Sure, you already know that the occasional glass of wine helps to reduce stress, enhance creativity and foster socialization, but professor of philosophy Edward Slingerland delivers the proof. This text makes a scientific case that alcohol was vital to lubricate the wheels of civilization. With case studies that span hunter-gatherers, ancient Rome and the modern tech campus, Slingerland explains how wine and other beverage alcohol help us to come together.
Proof Botanical Cocktail Master Kit
Fans of craft cocktails will love these small-batch cocktail syrups in garden-fresh flavors of basil, hibiscus, lavender, mint and rosemary, crafted in Georgia. The wonderfully bright flavors are great for riffing on classic mixed drinks, and they work equally well when topped with seltzer for a nonalcoholic refresher. Master kit includes five 16 oz. bottles, each one making up to 32 cocktails.
California Cowboy La Sirena Robe
This terry cloth–lined robe is always the life of the pool party. With versions for men and women in a variety of prints, it includes thoughtful design features—a sunglass loop, a dry pocket to protect tech gear, and a pocket designed specifically for toting Champagne. Because who doesn’t crave a cold glass of bubbly in the hot tub?
As an associate editor covering food and dining, Julie Harans offers clever ideas for the style-minded wine (and coffee) lover.
Pretti.Cool Black & Grey Coaster Set
pretti.cool, $32 for set of two / $58 for set of four
For a good-looking, mess-reducing accessory, check out the Black & Grey coaster set from Houston brand Pretti.Cool (see: that friend who’s always bugging you to use a coaster). The concrete-based pieces are made with recycled materials and feature a design with deep ridges to drain any condensation from your glass and keep it from sticking.
Crate & Barrel Wood Marble Wine Cooler
I bought these marble wine coolers for family members and quickly discovered that I needed one too. It’s perfect for keeping a bottle cold during dinner or a movie without trips to the fridge or the mess of a traditional ice bucket. Plus it looks beautiful. Store it in the freezer so it’s always ready to go. Crate & Barrel offers several varieties, but I prefer the ones with wooden bottoms, so there’s something less cold to hold on to when you set it out.
Corkcicle Eola Bucket Cooler Bag and Stemless Cup
corkcicle.com, bags starting at $90; cup $30
Corkcicle was created to keep your wine cold. This bag is just the right size; it holds two bottles and a few snacks without feeling bulky. Color options make it easy to personalize. The go-cup is nothing new, but its practicality can’t be overstated. At 12 ounces, it’s perfect for taking wine for a walk, but you're sure to find a plethora of uses for these insulated vessels.
Blue Bottle Coffee Gift Subscription
bluebottlecoffee.com, starting at $66
Blue Bottle began with the goal of pushing fine, carefully roasted single-origin coffee to the fore. Its subscriptions are customizable by bag size and frequency and are roasted to order. So you can send your favorites to friends, or sign them up and let them choose their own path to wakefulness.
Hario Cold Brew Coffee Wine Bottle
Making cold brew at home sounds fancy, but it’s actually among the easiest and most hands-off ways to make coffee. Hario’s cold brew bottle makes it even easier. Simply add ground coffee to the super fine filter, pour in cold water, let it sit overnight. Bonus points for grinding your own beans for each batch. Like many of the coffee and tea–related products sold by the Japan-based company, the bottle has a sleek design and comes in a range of playful colors. It’s a great gift for anyone looking to up their coffee game.