Gifts for the Wine Lover

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Whether they’re naughty or nice, most wine lovers on your gift list are easy to please. Simply ask your favorite wine shop for recommendations and drop each bottle into a festive wine bag. But if you want to make your present pop like a Champagne cork, I suggest tucking in a distinctive little something to keep the wine company. While bottle stoppers, grape-adorned tea towels and wine trivia cards are all lovely, here are some gift ideas that deliver a bit more length in the finish.

• Rösle Wine Decanting Funnel (pictured at left)

What:

Stainless-steel funnel is sized and sloped for wine’s gentle journey from bottle to decanter.
Why: The spring-loaded stainless mesh filter collects the sediment from aged wines, then pops out for easy cleaning.
For whom: Even your unfined and unfiltered friends want the dross out of the sauce when it’s time to drink.
How much: $24.95
Where to buy: Beverages & More, multiple locations; bevmo.com

• Dr. Bronner’s & Sun Dog’s Magic Naked Organic Lip Balm
• Kiss My Face fragrance-free personal care
products

What:

Skin-care products with all the luxurious, emollient properties of your high-end brands, made with organic ingredients and no pesky fragrances.
Why: Wearing scented products to wine events or winery tasting rooms can overwhelm the noses of fellow tasters as well as your own.
For whom: A friend who is already hip to the no-scents rule, or one who should be.
How much: $2–$9
Where to buy: Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (two locations): 1919 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 455-2667; and Elk Grove Marketplace, 8517 Bond Road, Elk Grove; (916) 714-7100

• Titanium wine cellar temperature and humidity gauge

What:

This small but easy-to-read temperature and humidity gauge can be programmed to measure fluctuations over time as well as immediate conditions.
Why: That fancy rack in the dining room matches the dcor, but will wine quality wither on its wrought-iron vines?
For whom: The budding collector, whether his stash is on redwood in the basement or in cardboard under the bed.
How much: $49.99
Where to buy: wineenthusiast.com

• Riedel Vinum Port/cognac wine glasses

What:

Scaled-down glasses, sweet for sipping tawnies, vintage Ports, cognacs and New World dessert wines. I like them for premium sake, too.
Why: This is the gift they might not buy but will use often. Plus, they don’t take up much real estate on the shelves.
For whom: The wine lover who already has proper stems for red, white and bubbly.
How much: $18–$20 apiece
Where to buy: William Glen, Town & Country Village, 2651 El Paseo Lane, Sacramento; (916) 485-3000

• House of Gattorna leather bottle carriers from Argentina

What:

Hand-stitched leather totes that are as elegant and artisanal as the wines they carry.
Why: Eric Stumpf, owner of The Wine Consultant, says, I found many of my customers were self-conscious when taking wine into a very nice restaurant. They felt cheap or foolish bringing a bottle in a brown bag, Styrofoam box or picnic carrier. This is a classy alternative.
For whom: Anyone who packs with panache, or whose bottle deserves a stylish ride.
How much: $140–$230
Where to buy: The Wine Consultant, 8039 Greenback Lane, Citrus Heights; (916) 721-9463; thewineconsultant.com

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Wine Trivia Contest

>>  What’s a flying winemaker?
E-mail your answer to wine@sacmag.com by Dec. 15. The winner will receive a Rösle wine decanting funnel. Make sure to include your name, address and telephone number. The winner will be selected by random drawing from all the correct responses.

We’ve got a winner! In October, we asked: Who said, Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in Champagne? It’s real crazy!? The correct answer: The Girl, played by Marilyn Monroe, in the 1955 Billy Wilder film The Seven Year Itch. The winner, Jon Shardlow of Sacramento, received an insulated wine tote.

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Elaine’s Picks of the Month

I’m usually a subversive gifter: If a friend swears by New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I’ll wrap up some Austrian Grüner Veltliner just to mess with her head. But sometimes you want to stay in the safety zone. (Think client, mother-in-law, presiding judge.) So I asked Michael Chandler, wine director of Enotria Wine Bar, Restaurant and Wine Shop, for no-fail gift wines (available at Enotria and directly from the wineries).
His picks:

For a dyed-in-the-wool Cabernet collector: 2003 Karl Lawrence Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A super sleeper cab.($55)

For a loyal Merlot drinker: 2004 Corte Riva Napa Valley Merlot. Made by the assistant winemaker for Pride Family, Romel Rivera.($50)

For a big fat Chardonnay fan: 2005 Frank Family Napa Valley Chardonnay. This is a great Chardonnay that is not overdone with oak and butter flavors and goes great with most dishes. A personal favorite. ($33)