corkscrew

Last minute holiday gift ideas for wine lovers

by Tim Elliott on December 18, 2011

From what I am reading, this week will make or break the year for retailers. So I don’t think it’s too late to post some gift ideas for wine lovers. We are a difficult bunch to buy for with the most obvious gift — wine — somewhat intimidating for our friends and family to gift. You could get around this somewhat with a gift certificate to a favorite wine store or producer but half the fun of the holiday season is the instant gratification of opening a well chosen present.

So I offer a short list of last minute gift ideas sure to bring a simile to the face of wine lovers in your life.

Ch. Laguiole corkscrewCorkscrews: While some wine lover collect corkscrews most of us accumulate them over time. I just went around the house and counted 10 corkscrews of various kinds in drawers. So clearly I don’t really need any more corkscrews but like with cars appreciate design and elegance. The BMW or Mercedes of corkscrews are made by Chateau Laguiole in France. They are literally works of art made from fine materials and well balanced. Go to most any fine restaurant and 9 times of out 10 the sommelier is wielding a Laguiole. Like many luxury goods there are Laguiole-style corkscrews for as low as $20. The genuine article starts at $140 and goes up to over $200 depending on the materials used.

Decanters: There are a plethora of wine aerator gadgets on the market and I have tried nearly all of them. Some are nicely designed and look cool while you pour your glass out of the bottle. But none of them in my testing has really done the job of opening up a young wine like a plain old decanter does. And that same decanter does double duty of making a vessel for fine old wines who require separation from their sediment. No wine lover can have enough decanters and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. Here are a couple of options to get you started.

Books: No wine lover can have enough books on our favorite subject and I have several listed on the right sidebar of my blog (just scroll down). The most essential is Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine which is my go-to resource for any wine subject. There have also been several well reviewed new wine books published this year such as Authentic Wine and Naked Wine which are on my reading list.

Wine Away: Wine lovers eventually spill red wine on clothes, furniture or carpet. Wine Away makes these inevitable disasters easy to clean up.

Preservation consumables: Either Private Preserve or Wine Shield would make a nice stocking stuffer.

Cleaning accessories: I use a brush and cleaning solution to care for my glassware but a lot of people this time of year use their automatic dishwasher. To give wine stems a chance of survival you need something like the cool looking Tether stemware preserver.

Whatever gift you choose, you best get it ordered soon since we have slightly less than 6 shopping days left until Christmas and Hanukkah begins on Tuesday!

Disclosure: There are a ton of Amazon affiliate links on this post. Help a blogger out ;-)

SWAT For Wine Disasters

by Tim Elliott on July 23, 2011

Most of the time wine lovers take corkscrews for granted. We regularly take them out and open bottles without incident. But there are times when special weapons and tactics are needed to prevent wine disasters.

Ah So CorkscrewSuch an event occurred here this evening when I was opening a double magnum. Large format bottles are always a problem with corkscrews (the ones with actual screws, that is) but I was hopeful nothing out of the ordinary would occur. After all, the wine was from the 2005 vintage and has been in its 3 liter bottle for only about 4 years now. But my confidence dissolved to concern when my trusty waiter-style corkscrew shredded the large format cork. Usually corks that disintegrate like this are dry or old but this bottle was shipped by the winery 3 years ago and has been cellared perfectly since I received it.

So I went to my arsenal of corkscrews and chose my weapon. I had bought it in the early 1980′s and have rarely used this corkscrew but it seemed perfect for the challenge. My ah-so corkscrew.

First, forget using this thing with synthetic corks as it will likely result in another type of disaster: the cork pushed into the bottle. But for natural corks of all kinds I have found this corkscrew useful. And it has earned its place as my corkscrew of choice with old, brittle corks. The two prong design doesn’t pierce the cork but contains it along two sides. While twisting and pulling the cork is extracted cleanly from the bottle. I have used this over the years several times and consider it the leader of my personal wine SWAT team.

The double magnum tonight was opened via this method even after my first corkscrew utterly destroyed the cork. It’s nice to have a wine gadget watching your back for just such occasions.