Private Preserve

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 ;-)

Wine Shield: A Simple Idea That Works

by Tim Elliott on December 11, 2011

Preserving an open bottle of wine is one of those things wine lovers don’t talk a lot about. For many of us a bottle is not open long enough for the exposure to air to spoil the wine. But there are those times when you open a special bottle or, in my case, 4 or 5 bottles for a tasting when Wine Shieldpreservation becomes a necessity. Over the years I have tried a lot of different approaches to preserving open bottles for longer than a day or two with mixed results. After swearing by Vac-u-vin and refrigerator storage for years I most recently have used Private Preserve to displace the air and preserve open wine bottles for 2 or 3 days before oxidation is apparent. A new product called Wine Shield claims to preserve open wines up to 5 days which I put to the test with 2 red wines.

The idea of Wine Shield is so simple I’m surprised it wasn’t invented a long time ago. Essentially it’s a round disk made from food grade plastic with a decorative grape design stamped into the middle that doubles as its mechanism to assure the disk floats on the top of the wine. An obvious and brilliant idea to protect the wine from oxidation. And my testing confirms the claim of protecting wine for a full 5 days before the effects of oxidation can be detected. In fact, I got 6 days from a robust Napa Valley Cabernet that tasted as fresh as the day I opened the bottle on day 6.

The only flaw I can see with Wine Shield is how you put the disk into the bottle is an acquired skill. You can see how this works about 17 seconds into the Wine Shield promotional video embedded below and it is a lot more difficult in practice than it looks.

I will definitely be ordering more Wine Shield disks to have on hand for special bottles but will continue to use Private Preserve for most of my wine preservation needs since I rarely keep an open bottle more than a couple days and using gas is still quite a bit less expensive per bottle than Wine Shield. But for many wine lovers who only occasionally drink wine or restaurants who don’t have an expensive gas system already something like Wine Shield is a no brainer. If it was closer in price to gas, I would use Wine Shield everyday. But I will be using it the next time I open 5 or 6 bottles for a Twitter tasting.

You can order Wine Shield here to try them for yourself.

Update December 18, 2011: In preparing my gift round up post I noticed Wine Shield had significantly lowered their prices to be much more competitive with gas preservation solutions so I have changed the end of my review and have updated the Amazon affiliate links.

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Disclosure: The Wine Shield folks sent me a 3-pack for review.