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Gifts For The Wine Lover In Your Life


By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr

There once was a time when enjoying wine was a simple matter of popping a cork. Today, however, you need the right tool to remove the cork, a carafe to let it breathe and an expensive glass that is not only elegant but brings out the best in aromas and flavors. Life is complicated.

https://www.vecteezy.com/photo/5740006-the-corkscrew-and-wine-cork-as-backgroundAt this time of the year many of us will be scrambling to find a wine gift for the special relative or friend who already has enough wine to last him or her a lifetime. The internet is happy to oblige.

We remember our parents poring over the holiday edition of the Sears & Roebuck Catalog – a tome that in previous generations could be found aside the family commode. Pages were dog-earred and items were circled in a thinly disguised hint to family members stumped on what to give.

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The wine enthusiast’s version of the Sears & Roebuck catalog is a much thinner IWA catalog that we recently received. The 60-page publication is filled with items, many of which are as unnecessary as they are expensive. For instance, for $20 you can get 8 “wands” that will remove 95 percent of the histamines and sulfites from a glass of wine. Or for $55 you can get a “Clef du Vin,” a tool when put into a glass will age the wine one year per second. In other words, if the winemaker didn’t produce a wine you like, voila, you can fix it.

There are much more practical gifts – cork screws, wine preservers, wine vaults and more. Whether you want to spend this kind of money, though, is up to you.

https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mid-section-bar-tender-opening-bottle-wine_8404391.htm#query=cork%20screws&position=22&from_view=search&track=sphLooking for a corkscrew? Laguiole prices range from $175 to $450. We love ours but it’s more because of its sleekness and wood finish. A waiter’s corkscrew – less attractive but equally effective – can be found on Amazon for less than $30.

You don’t finish a bottle and want to preserve leftover wine for the next day? Coravin has systems ranging from $179 to $549 and draw wine from the bottle without ever removing the cork. Aragon capsules and travel case are extra. Or you can buy a Vacu-Vin for $20 that pumps air out of a bottle — effective if we’re talking about saving it for a day.

Do you bring wine to the party and want a carrier this is something better than a grocery bag? A leather one will impress your host as you walk in the door, but expect to pay more than $100.  Just don’t leave it behind.  Or, you can get an insulated one made out of canvas for $20. Just as effective and no one will steal it.

We’ve been to many houses in which the stemware is an assortment of thick Libby hand-me-downs and etched souvenirs from some tasting room.  The bowls are different sizes and shapes. While a universal glass holds the wine as good as an expensive crystal glass, the experience in tasting the wine is not going to be the same for most discerning wine enthusiasts. Several years ago we joined Austrian Georg Riedel to taste the difference a bowl shape can make. He produces a different glass for every grape variety. Good crystal will cost $65 for a pair of glasses.

Image: Amazon

Books for either the new wine enthusiast or the collector are always good gifts. “The World Atlas of Wine” by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson is one of the best compendiums in wine. Now in its 8th edition, it covers the world and has been our go-to book for decades.

For the person who doesn’t need reference material, there are a lot of good reads, including “The Judgement of Paris” by George Taber, “Wine and War” by Donald Kladstrup, “Adventures on the Wine Trail” by Kermit Lynch and “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace.

Of course, the gift that fits everyone and is never returned is a bottle of wine.  Here are six very nice gifts for that special person:

Cakebread Cellars Suscol Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (Kobrand Wine & Spirits)

Cakebread Cellars Suscol Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($130). Cakebread is known for more that its brilliant sauvignon blanc. This reserve cabernet has dense black fruit and violet aromas with black cherry and plum flavors. Good tannins and balanced acidity make for a great wine.

Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($89). Sourcing grapes from the prized appellations of Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak, Pritchard Hill and Calistoga, Ladera has a great and well-structured wine. Bright black cherry and plum notes with a hint of coffee and spice.

Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Hill West Pinot Noir ($75). This Sonoma Coast producer has two side of a vineyard – one facing east and the other facing west. Each are unique, but we happened to like the Pinot Hill West.  Because of the location and exposure, the fruit ripens slowly to produce a deeply colored wine with interesting hints of herbs and raspberry.

Gundlach-Bundschu Vintage Reserve 2018 ($140). This historic Sonoma County producer has a winner with its Bordeaux-variety blend that honors its 160th anniversary.  Its fabled Rhinefarm Estate vineyards lie on the southwest slope of the Mayacama Mountain Range and eight miles north of the San Pablo Bay. This year’s version of this deep and complex wine is the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. The tannins are sure but fine and the mouthfeel deceivingly soft

Hammeken Cellars Tosalet Carignan Vinyes Velles 2013

and generous. Big cassis and dark fruit flavors with hints of herbs and chocolate.

Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Franc Caitlin’s Select 2018 ($50).  From another small, family-owned producer in Napa Valley, this sturdy cabernet franc is worth the search.  Bright raspberry and cherry notes with a hint of chocolate and a lingering finish.  The vineyard was founded by neurosurgeon Dr. Tom Kenefick. It is now managed by his son, Chris.

Hammeken Cellars Tosalet Carignan Vinyes Velles 2013 ($89).  This an incredibly rich and sturdy carignan that exemplifies the serious wine coming from the Priorat region of Spain. From old vines and blended with 8 percent cabernet sauvignon, the wine has generous spice and tobacco aromas, full body and dark fruit flavors with a hint of coffee.


Wine picks

L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot 2019 (Lecole)

Beronia Crianza 2018 ($15).  A good value from Rioja, this is mostly tempranillo with a little garnacha and mazuelo tossed in. Simple but delicious, it has black cherry notes.

L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot 2019 ($27). From an iconic producer in Washington state, this perennial favorite shows off generous plum and floral aromas and black cherry, mocha and kirsch flavors. Blended with cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot.

Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc Cotes-du-Rhone 2021 ($15). Grenache blanc, rousanne, viognier, clairette and bourboulenc combine to make this fresh and flavorful blend a perfect aperitif or good company with oysters, sardines and shrimp. Stone fruit, fennel and anise notes abound.

[vc_message message_box_color=”blue”]Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, MoreAboutWine, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com

Republished with permission

Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a weekly wine column for more than 30 years. Additional Wine reviews on MoreAboutWine

All photos are randomly selected and do not indicate any preferred wine. Listed prices are subject to change and do not include tax or shipping.

You can send questions to Tom Marquardt marq1948@gmail.com

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Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They have traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the United States. Tom currently resides in Naples with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. His web site is MoreAboutWine.com. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, MD.