Food » Winesipper

Gifts for the Wine Lover

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Here are four gift ideas that anyone who's into wine should love. To start off, besides a bottle of wine, one thing everyone needs is a way to open it. If it's a screw cap, you're set, but there are still a lot of corks out there and a multitude of devices designed to remove them. Some pump air into the bottle to push the cork out. Some lever-action devices can set you back $100, but most professionals swear by the versatile waiter's corkscrew.

While I own a few of those, my favorite is still the Screwpull, and my favorite Screwpull is the pocket model. It has a knife to remove the foil, and its long, Teflon-coated screw lifts the cork straight out with a few simple rotations. Reversing the motion ejects the cork, and while hard-plastic closures can cause problems, everything else works beautifully. You'll find them priced between $15 and $20 depending on packaging.

Next up, you have to pour the wine, and the question involved is whether to decant. If the wine is old, it may have thrown a sediment, and decanting is the way to avoid those last, bitter dregs. If it's young, it will probably benefit from a little air to release trapped gas and open things up—decanting is the classic method for doing that. Of course, someone came up with a way to speed the process along: enter the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator, priced less than $30. Simply hold it over your glass, and when you pour the wine through, it creates a swirling vortex of bubbles that allows the wine to breathe. Both flavor and aroma are intensified.

The glass you use also makes a big difference in how the wine smells and tastes. A proper wine glass has a stem so your fingers don't warm the wine or smudge the bowl. Beyond that, you can spend a fortune collecting different shapes of stemware for different varieties of wine, but one of the best buys in crystal is made by Spiegelau. About $10 buys you a sturdy and attractive tulip-shaped goblet that makes a great, all-purpose wine glass. Packaged as a red wine/water goblet, the shape was originally designed for Chianti and zinfandel, but I use it for everything from sauvignon blanc to malbec.

Last up, if you don't finish a bottle of wine (a rare occurrence in the Kirkpatrick household) you'll need to preserve it, and the best method for that is the aptly named Private Preserve wine preserver. The same oxygen that helps a wine open up will turn evil and after time, break down a wine, ultimately changing it into vinegar. Leave a partly consumed bottle on the counter overnight, and by the next morning, it will probably have lost its luster. Private Preserve is a can of inert gases that, when sprayed into the bottle, blankets the wine and shields it from the air. The fruit and flavors stay fresh and lively, and at around $12 a can, it can protect some 120 bottles of wine. At a dime per application, it's definitely worth it.

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