It can be intimidating to find the right gift for a wine lover, especially if you don’t think of yourself as a wine person. But you don’t have to be able to tell the difference between Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to give a wine gift that’s more elegant than an oversize wine glass and more thoughtful than a bottle of wine from the corner store. To track down the best gifts for wine drinkers, I asked sommeliers, winemakers, and people who love wine to share their go-to wine gift ideas. Below, 25 of their favorite books and wine accessories to give as gifts that you can be confident the wine lover in your life will actually use.
If you’re not going to give a bottle of wine, give great glassware that they can use over and over again. “I was given a two-pack of Zalto Universal glasses as a Christmas gift from a distributor while working at the Breslin,” says Carla Rza Betts, certified sommelier and co-founder of an Approach to Relaxation, “and it changed my glassware game forevermore. Zalto Universals are simply the best glass to get a clear look at both reds and whites, in my opinion. They allow you to get lost in the aromas within the glass while exhibiting the wine in an almost artlike way.” Betts isn’t alone in her admiration of Zaltos. Most sommeliers and wine lovers I’ve spoken with rave about this wine glass, holding it up as the gold standard, and a set of these glasses is a gift that’ll last a lifetime.
If you’re looking for a less traditional (and also less expensive) wine glass, try gifting these short tumblers from Bormioli that’ll give a dinner party a European feel. Hannah and Marian Cheng of Mimi Cheng’s use them while hosting dinner parties because they “remind us of drinking and eating tapas in Madrid. They’re elegant and simple.” Joanna Goddard of the blog Cup of Jo feels similarly: “Whenever my husband and I drink wine from these glasses at home, I feel like we’re transported to a little bar in Barcelona. They’re charming, light, and just feel good in your hand.”
Betts prefers the Zalto Carafe No. 75 to these more decorative ones. “It’s very simple in terms of style, but it has the cleanest pour out there: no drips. It’s slick and efficient, which is what I want out of a decanter. Nothing fancy, just efficiency.”
This handblown glass wine decanter is also on the more minimalist side, but with its little round wooden stopper, it looks more expensive than it actually is (and is a perennial Strategist-editor favorite).
Peter Mondavi Jr., co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery, describes the best wine-related gift he ever received as “nothing special, but extremely functional. Decades ago we received a wine cooler crafted from soapstone quarried in Finland. The thermal mass does a great job at keeping our white wine chilled throughout dinner. It’s in use every night we serve a white.” And though this wine cooler isn’t from Finland, it is also made of soapstone and is handmade in the Tabaka Hills of Kenya.
You could also gift them the Corkcicle, a little gadget that chills white wine fast. All you have to do is store it in the freezer and then pop it into an open, unchilled bottle of wine when you need it. According to writer Leah Bhabha, “It’ll begin cooling down the wine immediately, chilling from top to bottom, and keeping it icy for up to an hour without watering it down.”
If your wine enthusiast has an extensive collection of older bottles, surprise them with a Durand corkscrew. It’s “the best corkscrew in the world to open even the most mature bottle of wine safely,” according to Roth, the winemaker at Wölffer Estate. As Morgan Harris, head sommelier at Aureole, explains, “The Durand basically combines the classic waiter’s corkscrew with horizontal compression from a forked ‘Ah, so’–style wine opener. This way, you can’t rip the middles out of your corks if they happen to be crumbly, nor can you accidentally push the cork into the bottle if they happen to be a little loose.”
Any wine lover will appreciate a new wine opener, especially since the smaller waiter-style ones can often go missing and should actually be replaced annually to ensure that the corkscrew is as sharp as possible. A brand-new Pulltap corkscrew, a sommelier favorite, will do the trick.
A Vacu Vin sealer is a sommelier-approved wine stopper that’ll preserve an already-open bottle of wine. “The Vacu Vin system has been around forever for a reason,” explains Eric Tschudi, sommelier and head bartender at Shuko. “While I wouldn’t recommend it for sparkling wines, the pump that’s included with it to get the wine-killing oxygen out of the bottle helps keep still wines fresh for days,” which is great for the wine lover who likes to savor their bottles.
The Fante’s Champagne stopper will make sure no bottle of Champagne (or other sparkling wine) goes to waste. “This stopper is my favorite because it holds the carbonation very well and is easy to use,” according to Joshua MacGregor, sommelier at DB Bistro Moderne by Daniel Boulud. “I ultimately favor it over other stopper styles because the rubber stopper mimics the pressure the original cork had on the wine the best, and the hinge clasp makes it very hard to accidentally slip off and lose the carbonation of the wine.”
“There is nothing better than getting to drink wine where it’s from, with the food that it was born to be enjoyed with,” says Alexis Schwartz, sales representative at Brooklyn-based wine importer Zev Rovine Selections. But if you can’t pay for someone else’s trip to Wine Country, you can make sure they’re ready to haul wine back from their vacation. Schwartz’s dad got her a 12-bottle wine suitcase for Christmas one year, and it’s changed her wine travels. “Rather than praying during my flight that nothing has broken in my bag, the wine suitcase keeps everything safe and sound. And I usually want to bring back interesting spirits or rare wines I find during my travels. Win-win, it only costs me the extra baggage fee.” She has an older version of this hard-sided suitcase.
This 12-bottle wine suitcase has a more straightforward design, but it’ll work just as well as the hard-sided one at keeping bottles safe, and it’s under $100, making it a good option for more casual travelers.
Speaking of corks — “I received from a friend of mine (who always asks me for wine suggestions) a very cute way to collect corks: Corky Metal wine-cork holder,” says Carrie Lyn Strong, wine director at Casa Lever. “If you like to recycle corks like I do, it’s a decorative way to collect them before bringing them to be recycled,” which you can do at most Whole Foods through a program with Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, Strong notes. It’s also a nice-looking way to collect corks, if that’s your wine lover’s thing, and this one does double duty as a wine holder.
Another way to repurpose wine bottles into home décor is with “colorful, clean-burning, no-smoke taper candles.” Schwartz likes to give a pack of candles along with a nice bottle of wine. “I love that when they finish the bottle, it can become a candle holder for the tapers, and they can always think back to the memories they made while drinking it. I personally have a pretty rad set of empty Frank Cornelissen Magma bottles (which are hand-calligraphed) that are now dotted in multiple colors of old candle wax. Whenever they’re lit, it transports me to Europe.”
The Wine Questionnaire, edited by Jay McInerney, is James Beard Award–winning sommelier Belinda Chang’s “signature gift, for a housewarming or for anyone I know.” It’s part coffee-table book, with handwritten notes from famous oenophiles like Sofia Coppola, Graydon Carter, and Daniel Boulud about their favorite wines, and part workbook with a tasting guide — and it just looks nicer than a traditional wine-tasting journal.
Betts recommends the Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert for those who want even more guided tastings. (Full disclosure: It was written by her husband.) “Scratching and sniffing your way through the book, you figure out which fruit profiles, wood treatments, and earthy qualities you prefer, then you use the map to figure out which wines from which regions you should be searching out.”
Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin sommelier and owner of Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, gave his neighbor a copy of Peter Liem’s Champagne for Christmas and jokes that he’s created a Champagne monster. “He digs into that book because it’s filled with maps, it’s filled with history about how bottles were made, and it’s really, really an absolute world-class book right now,” Sohm says. “My neighbor’s wife is now upset at me because he’s always ordering Champagne, but to me, this is the beauty!” It’s a book that can inspire that kind of fervor in even the most seemingly casual wine drinker.
“As a gift, I like to find older books about wine that are inspirational for the enjoyment of life as accompanied by wine, rather than study guides,” says Strong of Casa Lever. “M.F.K. Fisher’s Long Ago in France: The Years in Dijon was essential in opening my mind to the culture of wine and gastronomy when I lived in Dijon. I also found Deborah Brenner’s Women of the Vine an inspirational book when I was first breaking into this industry.” (There are also a few other travel and food memoirs recommended by sommeliers in our roundup of best wine books.)
Victoria James, beverage director at Cote, received this book as a gift from a co-worker. “This was the perfect gift for a sommelier because it’s an obscure book about wine obscura, in general.” It’s well-organized, well-researched, and covers regions that you may never have associated with wine-making. “It’s just really interesting cultural tidbits.”
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