Wine Gifts for All Occasions
The holiday gift-giving season starts early this year, with Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving. We've picked out a few our favorite "Things We Like" from the magazine over the past year, and reviewed a few new gifts that should keep any wine lover smiling. For more gift ideas, check out the recent holiday gift guide in the Dec. 15 issue, and the newest book reviews in the Dec. 31 issue.
Lockey Bottle Lock ($20; build.com)
This is too good to be true: a lock to keep people out of an open bottle. Though we suspect it will be given in jest to especially stingy wine lovers, it's a fully functional piece of equipment. And it was not made by a gag shop or a wine accessories company, but Lockey, a Michigan-based lock manufacturer.
Operation is simple: Turn the lock to a four-digit combination, insert it into the bottle and hold the base while turning the top. This causes a rubber gasket to expand in the neck. Keep turning until it seals. Scramble the combination, and your wine is secure. Just don't forget the code—it's not like your open bottle is something you can stand to lose, like your gym clothes or a bicycle. To make things easier for you, we suggest 1-8-5-5.—Owen Dugan
Thomas Sandell coasters by Georg Jensen ($75 for four, georgjensen.com)
Coasters have a simple job: They protect a tablecloth from wine stains. Because they are simple objects, they tended to be decorated ornately—a turned wooden base might have a filigreed wall around it, for example.
More modern and youthful are the Thomas Sandell coasters by Georg Jensen. The high-gloss steel looks formal and polished, and a simple thumb grip is functional, but the real beauty in them is that they celebrate simplicity in form and function.—O.D.
Laguiole Champagne saber ($300, williams-sonoma.com)
Whisking the edge of a knife or sword up the neck of a Champagne bottle to pop the cork off has been one of wine's great flourishes of service for centuries. Even today, there are few greater wine party tricks than sabering a bottle—and few more embarrassing party fouls, as a quick YouTube search of "Champagne saber fail" will show. That's why while some people, like G.H. Mumm's chef de cave Didier Mariotti, can "saber" with as little as the base of a Champagne flute, the novice sabreur needs his trusty sword. For that, try the 10.5-inch blade of the Laguiole Champagne saber (also works on other sparkling wines, if you must). Each saber is fashioned by a single master cutler in France's famed Laguiole region. The blade is made to get wet—corrosion-resistant Sandvik stainless steel—as is the water-resistant handle, carved from zebu horn. With a blunt edge, this sword is only intended for sabrage and unfit for battle, but as always, be careful where you aim that cork. You wouldn't want to lose out on a gift like this because Santa thinks you'll shoot your eye out.—Ben O'Donnell
Riedel Black Tie Champagne cooler ($690, riedel.com)
While we want Champagne to shed the streamers and sparklers of the past, we do still like to see it treated graciously. This elegant Champagne bucket made by Riedel has beautiful long lines folding out at the top, like an opening flower or a black-tie collar. And while we typically avoid color in glass used to serve wine, here it is artful, available in either blue or yellow.
An indentation in the bottom neatly fits the punt in the bottle, so you can lift the whole to pour without the bottle shifting. But it's awfully heavy, and we're assuming you might actually want people to see the label.—O.D.
Silicone Wineglasses ($20 for two, uncommongoods.com)
The unbreakable wineglass. It's the white whale wine lovers have been chasing since the first glass shattered millennia ago. These silicone stemless wine vessels may not be glass, but they are damn-near unbreakable, made of the same food-grade material as those Silpat baking sheets that are so fun to bake cookies on (not a bad gift idea either, if there's foodie on your list). You can squeeze these into virtually anything—a backpack, a cooler, a clutch, or even your pocket. Once retrieved, the glasses will go back to their elegant tulip shape without any wear or tear. One note of caution: These glasses' selling point is also their biggest weakness—they're very soft, so imbibers with a heavy hand are liable to squeeze the wine right out of the cup if they aren't careful.—Emma Balter
Major Scale Musical Wineglasses ($65 for two, uncommongoods.com)
We've all been told not to play with our food; well, now you can play your wineglass. Remember the trick of running a finger around the lip of a glass to make that eerie hum? These lead-free crystal glasses have fill lines sandblasted onto them at intervals denoting an A-major scale. Fill according to what note you want to play, not to best appreciate the wine (though these are good quality glasses). Play a little, then sip down to the next one, or have your friends strike different notes simultaneously. The only complaint is that playing the full scale requires a very heavy pour. But is that really a serious problem?—O.D.
Zalto Denk'glas Wineglasses ($57, winemonger.com)
Repeat after us: Champagne is a wine. Flutes are for New Year's toasting; they're fun and celebratory but not great for tasting. The rest of the year, when food-friendly sparkling wine hits your table, treat it properly by serving it in a white wineglass that will show off its particular attractions.
Zalto Denk'glas stems have been appearing in some fine restaurants recently. They have an elegant shape and present aromas very directly. They feel notably thin and light, and like the best wineglasses, seem almost to sway when swirled. But don't baby them. The manufacturer claims that they are exceptionally strong because, unlike many glasses, each is blown as one piece. They even recommend cleaning in the dishwasher.—O.D.
Little Barrel Neckties ($68, littlebarrel.com)
Too often, wine-themed clothing is poorly made, unattractive or just plain goofy. Little Barrel combats the stereotype by selling well-made ties with relatively subtle patterns showing bottles, glasses and grape clusters. The palette leans toward preppy, and the tone is slightly lighthearted, although that could just be the subject matter.
The company was started a few years ago by Andrew Major and Taylor Latham after they failed to find suitable wine-themed ties for the guests at their wedding in Santa Barbara. Seeing a niche, they founded Little Barrel, and have since branched out into tote bags, headbands, even dog leashes and collars.—O.D.