10 Gifts for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything
What to buy your hard-to-please oenophile friend.
For someone who already has a large wine cellar, and regularly vacations in wine regions around the world, is there anything they don’t already have when it comes to wine? Anything that could surprise and impress them? Yes—below is a list of 10 gifts ranging from cheap to pricey, all worth considering for the wine lover who has everything. I’m not talking useless “Thneeds” from some crook’s hack idea like those in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. No, no, these are unique and smart gift ideas for the value-seekers looking to impress, or for those of you willing to spend a bit more on something special.
Behind every bottle of wine is a story, but now, with these custom-etched wine glasses, the story extends beyond the bottle to encompass even a personal tale. Well Told, a company founded by four friends, has created a line of glassware that can be customized with a unique message and features incredibly cool etchings that wrap around the entire glass. There’s really an etching for everyone—from maps of marathon routes to constellations and topographical views of famous mountains.
There are two formats for wine glasses—with or without the stem. I prefer the stemless one, and really dig my pair of etchings of Mount Saint Helena (the dormant volcano in northern Napa Valley) and of Mount Hood, which reminds me of how much I love Oregon wine country. For the marathon runner in your family, map lover, outdoor venture-seeker, stargazer, you-name-it, these glasses (which also come in pint, rocks, mugs, Champagne, and mason-jar formats) offer a ton of options for that unique and potentially heart-warming gift.
To buy: Well Told Design Custom-Etched Wine Glasses, $16 and up at welltolddesign.com
Ten Grapes to Know by Catherine Fallis
Written with the authority and experience of a seasoned Master Sommelier, but entirely down-to-earth, conversational, and a real joy to read, Ten Grapes to Know is a must-have for lovers of wine. Catherine Fallis MS is affectionately known through her online writings, and by the wine community, as the one and only “grape goddess,” and your journey through her book will be fun, exuberant, and leave you with the tools to make confident wine buying decisions whether standing in the supermarket aisle or staring down a detailed restaurant wine list.
To buy: Ten Grapes to Know by Catherine Fallis, $25 at amazon.com
Jordan Garden Plate
Leave it to the creative folks at Jordan Winery, the stalwart producer of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines from Alexander Valley, to take the concept of terroir and apply it to the dinner table.
Jordan Winery executive chef Todd Knoll, and his wife, Nitsa, who serves as Jordan’s director of hospitality and events, have found friends in NBC Pottery owners, Nikki and Will Callnan. Knoll wanted to produce the “ultimate expression” of terroir in a serving piece, and incredibly, a patch of clay soils near Jordan’s estate gardens offered the perfect mineral-makeup to produce this really stunning “Garden Plate.” Featuring curved corners, and a deep brown glaze with a crystal satin finish, this is a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for that wine lover who has everything. To put it another way, this plate will up the ante for your cheese course presentation—though, I like it as the serving vessel for roasted carrots because the colors are just stunning.
To buy: Jordan Garden Plate By NBC Pottery, $100 at jordanwinery.com
Here’s the scenario: It’s another lovely day somewhere in America and you and the person who has everything have been invited you to a tasting of all-star Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon wines. After the first 15 minutes, your teeth are stained a stunning purple. After an hour, it looks like you stopped brushing your teeth years ago. But all that embarrassment and over-explaining is over. Keep these Wine Wipes handy, slip into the restroom, and polish away the indelible marks of a great wine tasting so that you can once again, smile confidently. Get some for yourself and for your pal who has everything (but these wipes).
To buy: Wine Wipes from The Vanity Project, $21 at amazon.com.
The person who has just about everything often forgets that they might be running low on their stock of holiday-worthy Champagnes. So, in the spirit of giving a gift that gives back—and one that will always, always, impress—go for the gold-standard: Krug. I mean, if seeing the biggest smile you’ve ever seen on your best friend, mother, father, or in-law’s face isn’t something you’re into, skip ahead. But if you present this vintage-dated 2006 Krug, affectionately nick-named “Capricious Indulgence” because of its expressive toasted almond, hazelnut, dried fruit and mandarin liqueur notes tinged with nougat, apple tart and citrus-kissed on a long finish, the smiles will abound.
Gift Subscription to SOMM TV
Once you’ve popped the cork on that vintage Krug, settle into the TV room and let the person who has everything know that now that have a subscription to SOMM TV. Jason Wise, the creator of the SOMM movie series (three must-see movies for anyone into wine, even those non-wine drinkers in your life) has devised a new streaming service with a bevy of behind-the-scenes footage, new adventures, master classes, blind tastings, and more, all in the name of wine. Through stunning footage of the most beautiful wine regions around the globe, intimate tastings in the world’s most coveted wine cellars with the world’s foremost experts, this is a new way to learn about and experience the culture of wine—all presented in an artful fashion, never too serious, and tastefully done. Don’t forget to help the recipient download the SOMM TV app for streaming on their smartphone or tablet.
To buy: SOMM TV, $100 for an annual subscription; sommtv.com
Wine Glass Ornament
Out of the billion-or-so wine-related ornaments for adorning your Christmas Tree, this is possibly the classiest, with very fine phrases that aren’t annoying, like: "Friends Until the End of Wine" and “‘Trust me you can dance’ - Wine,” and you can customize a message too, if you must. The design is simple and stylish, made of white ceramic with a vivid red font. They’ll look handsome on a fabulously decorated tree.
Coravin Model One
If you or any of your wine-loving friends are still holding out on purchasing a Coravin, all I can ask is: why? If you have a cellar full of treasures, this little device gives you the opportunity to dip into them, one glass at a time, by deploying a thin needle into the cork, while a spritz of argon gas into the bottle pushes the wine out through the needle and into your glass. Once the needle is removed, the cork reseals, and if the bottle is stored on its side in a cool, dark cellar, it will keep for many years. This original Model One has a splashy new neon look, designed exclusively for Neiman Marcus as a sign of the fashion times. That’s right: neon is back and given this Coravin Model is about $450 less than the ultra-impressive Model 11, you really have no excuse!
Second Labels of Major Producers
Most wine collectors and wine geeks alike can spout out the names of iconic and legendary wineries: They’ve enjoyed Ornellaia, the famous Italian Super Tuscan, and even have bottles of French Bordeaux First Growth Château Haut-Brion, but the person who has everything very likely doesn’t have those producers’ second-tier labels, which are often just as impressive but don’t carry the same massive price tag. You’ll look so savvy presenting a bottle of the tight-knit structured, smooth, creamy and rich 2016 Château Quintus ($144 at Astor Wines), another label owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon, the proprietor of Haut Brion, which goes for a cool $700 or more.
Or you might lock into a few bottles of the suave, black cherry, spiced plum, cedar-laced, angular tannin beauty 2017 Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia ($60 on wine.com), the second label of Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore, which often sells for $200 and up.
Can’t afford or even locate a bottle of $3,000 Screaming Eagle? Go get some of their blue-and-black-fruited, violet floral and profoundly rich JONATA wines, which is owned by the owners of Screaming Eagle. The 2014 Jonata Todos Proprietary Red ($53 on wine.com) combines Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Viognier, resulting in a Southern Rhone-style gem that bears the ripeness of Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara. This one will astound.
There is unquestionably a time and place for this portable hand-powered espresso machine. I’m going to say in advance that it takes a bit of planning on the part of the recipient to get the full benefits, but for those who need a serious pick-me-up after a long day of tasting wine when no coffee shop is in sight (or no espresso machine at the guest house they’re renting in Wine Country), this is your best bet. Small enough to fit into a purse or backpack, the only drawback for winery-hopping is the device requires boiling or extremely hot water. So, you’ll need to request a cup of boiling water, or hope you’re visiting a winery that has a water cooler somewhere with a hot tab that dispenses near-boiling water. The Nanopresso works with both ground espresso-bean coffee, but there’s also an “NS Adaptor” (I highly recommend it) for Nespresso capsules. It comes in classic black, yellow, orange, red, arctic blue, moss green, and white.