Unbeatable epicurean combinations that redefine the ordinary gift set, plus perfect accessories for wine experts, hosts and more.
Vintage Wine Bags
Rebecca Thoms Hanley of BananaSaurus Rex stitches these “wine wraps” from vintage tablecloths and handkerchiefs.
Chocolate pairings from Oregon chocolatier Petits Noirs include bonbons flavored with toasted anise seed and cardamom which echo notes in Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Scent of Napa
Yael Alkalay of the skin-care line Red Flower recently created a scent inspired by ingredients evocative of the Napa region. The final fragrance has earthy notes like grape blossom.
A Decadent Nightcap
CocoaVino’s Bacchanal Bonbons ($35 for a box of 12; 646-418-7634 or cocoavino.com), with their dark chocolate–Malbec ganache filling, are luxurious with Fonseca’s luscious 2005 Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port ($53).
A Sushi Lover’s Taste Test
Sushi pairs well with both sake and wine. Give fanatics a copy of Sushi: A Pocket Guide ($8.95; amazon.com) with a bottle of sake—Rihaku’s Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo ($35) is very good—and the 2006 Poet’s Leap Riesling ($20).
A Perfect Dessert Set
Chocolate artist Michael Recchiuti’s dark chocolate–covered pear crisps ($20 for 4 oz; 415- 826-2868 or recchiuti.com) are outstanding with the honeyed 2003 Château Doisy-Védrines Sauternes ($35) from France’s Barsac region.
A Spanish Duo
Bodegas Roda makes terrific olive oil and Riojas. Pair one of each for a taste of Spain. Roda Dauro de L’Empordà ($28 for 500 ml), a blend of Arbequina, Hojiblanca and Koroneiki olives, has a grassy scent and a light, peppery bite; the 2002 Roda I Rioja ($67) offers pure cherry notes.
An Italian Excursion
Fra’ Mani’s superb, artisanally crafted Salame Nostrano is seasoned with sea salt, garlic, spices and white wine ($64; framani.com). It’s even better when served with red wine, especially a top Tuscan red like Castello Banfi’s sublimely spicy 2001 Brunello di Montalcino ($71).
Gifts to Impress the Host
Anyone can bring a big-name bottle of California Chardonnay to a dinner party, but bringing a bottle of absurdly good red or white, made from lesser-known Rhône-variety grapes by the much-praised American spin-off of one of France’s most hallowed Rhône producers? Now that’s inspired gift-giving. The 2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Blanc ($22) combines Viognier, Marsanne and several other varieties to appealingly spicy effect; the 2005 Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas ($22) blends Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Counoise into a voluptuous red wine that tastes of black cherries and plums.
The Perfect Bottle for...
Someone with almost no wine knowledge. A dry Australian Riesling that will make anyone forget he or she ever heard the word "Chardonnay": 2006 Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling ($20).
Someone with way too much wine knowledge. A little-known but insanely delicious grape variety—Sagrantino—vinified by a mad-genius Italian winemaker: 2003 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco ($90).