Unexpected Gifts for the Wine Lover


This giving season, you want to show your appreciation to the friends and family who always open the good stuff. But what to get the collector who has everything? How many grape-motif aprons and fish-shaped corkscrews can one give in good conscience? Here are a few outside-the-barrel gift ideas for the wine lovers on your list.

Chocolate-dipped wine bottle&emdash;
Doubly indulgent, perhaps triply goofy, a chocolate-dipped wine bottle is for the person with a cocoa jones and a healthy sense of whimsy. Avoid the cheap ones, gummy with chocolate that tastes as though the Nesquik bunny mated with a Crayola. Goosecross Winery offers a bottle of its 2004 Napa Merlot, dipped in your choice of dark or milk chocolate. ($58, goosecrosscellars.com)

Subscription to Jancis Robinson’s purple pages&emdash;
Spring for a membership to Jancis Robinson’s sophisticated online wine mag, purple pages. ($119 a year, jancisrobinson.com)

Barrel stave chair&emdash;
It’s not just a folding chair but a handcrafted winemaking relic, numbered and branded with the name of the winery that used the barrel. If only certain wineries would use their oak so responsibly. ($135, wineappreciation.com)

CamelBak flask&emdash;
Cleverly disguised as a water bottle, it’s a high-tech backpacking decanter, darling, for whenever you need to go glass-free, 750 ml at a time. Choose from a baker’s dozen of vibrant colors; I like mine in bottle green. ($12, REI, Target and Big 5 Sporting Goods)

Elaine’s Picks of the Month

So you offered to bring wine to the holiday gathering this year. But with airport security so restrictive, you’ll have to leave your tried-and-true treasures at home. Not relishing the search through market aisles in Boise or Biloxi? Take note: Here are three crowd-pleasing brands you can find almost anywhere, all for around $10.

• Bogle (Clarksburg, Calif.)
• B&G Bistro (Southern France)
• Columbia Crest (Washington)

For toasting the past, present and future, turn to elegant Deutz Brut Classic NV Champagne (around $30 with holiday discounts). Light gold, teensy bubbles, aromas of white flowers, marzipan and green apples. Rich body and fresh finish. Keep a case on hand for last-minute gifts.

Wine Trivia Contest

>>  What is glögg?
a) industry slang for high-alcohol wines
b) the sediment that forms in vintage Port
c) a German soil type
d) warm spiced wine

E-mail your answer to wine@sacmag.com by Dec. 15. The winner will receive a nine-bottle wine tote by Reisenthel. 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: In the movie Sideways, the Merlot-hating main character, Miles, treasures a bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc. What grapes are used to make Cheval Blanc? The correct answer: Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The winner, Kathy Waldorf of Elk Grove, received a nine-bottle wine tote.