gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers, According to Sommeliers and Winemakers

Photo: Fox

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 a Beaujolais and a Lambrusco to give a wine gift that’s more elegant than an oversize wineglass and more thoughtful than whatever you first see at the corner store. To track down the best gifts for wine drinkers, we asked sommeliers, winemakers, and people who love wine to share their go-to wine gift ideas. Below, 29 of their favorite books, wine accessories, and popcorns (we’ll let them tell you why) to wrap up and give to the wine lover in your life.

Best overall gift for wine lovers

Unlike a bottle of wine, which you enjoy and then it’s gone, great glassware can be used 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. “It changed my glassware game forevermore. Zalto Universals are simply the best glass to get a clear look at both reds and whites. They allow you to get lost in the aromas within the glass while exhibiting the wine in an almost artlike way.” Betts isn’t the one person who loves Zaltos. Most of the sommeliers and wine experts we spoke to rave about these wineglasses, which they consider the gold standard. Wine trader Cameron Hughes, of CH Wine Co., calls them “beautifully executed and able to relay subtle nuance and mouthfeel impression.” He does warn, however, that the glasses are fragile and need to be gently handwashed. And Brittany Villafañe, head sommelier at DB Bistro Moderne in NYC says, “I always appreciate glassware, and having sets of grape varietal-focused glassware is a real treat for entertaining and enjoying wine. Zalto is, for me, the best glassware on the market.”

Best Champagne glass

For the wine lover who drinks Champagne year-round (and not just on New Year’s Eve), it might be worth investing in a specialized Champagne glass. “Riedel’s Champagne glass is shaped more like a traditional wineglass, which lets you incorporate more air and smell,” says writer and self-described “wine unprofessional” Tammie Teclemariam. “It’s better than a stereotypical flute, and it enhances the minerality of all sorts of sparkling wines from Vouvray to Vilmart.”

Best wine decanter

Riedel Swan Decanter
$426

Both Roman Roth, winemaker and partner at Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Villafañe recommended gifting a high-quality wine decanter from the centuries old brand Riedel. One of the best wine-related gifts that Roth remembers receiving is the Swan decanter from Riedel. “It is a showstopper. Your dinner guests will be in awe. The most elegant decanter in the world.” Villafañe’s choice, the Riedel O decanter, is a touch less extravagant but equally as effective. “It’s not only sleek, it is practical and easy to use when pouring wine for your guests,” Villafañe says.

Best (less expensive) wine decanter

Marissa Copeland, head sommelier at Junoon, suggests a much less expensive decanter, which also happens to be her personal favorite. For those on the hunt for a Riedel dupe, this one costs a fourth of the price of Villafañe’s preferred Riedel O decanter and looks nearly identical.

Best wine carafe

Betts prefers Zalto Carafes to the more decorative decanters above. “They’re very simple in terms of style, but have the cleanest pour out there: no drips. This one is slick and efficient, which is what I want out of a decanter. Nothing fancy, just efficiency,” she says.

Best (less expensive) wine carafe

$33

This handblown glass wine decanter also works perfectly as a carafe. It is on minimalist side, but its round oak stopper makes it look more expensive than it actually is. (It’s also a perennial Strategist-editor favorite).

Best tumbler for wine lovers

Not all wine drinkers are fans of stemless glassware, but these short, less traditional (and less expensive) glasses from Bormioli 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.”

Best wine cooler

Hughes keeps this marble-and-wood wine cooler chilled at all times and mostly uses it for dining and sipping en plein air in his backyard. It’s also very similar to the beloved and very functional soapstone wine cooler Peter Mondavi Jr., co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery, received as a gift decades ago. According to Mondavi, wine coolers like this and the one he has at home “do a great job at keeping white wine chilled throughout dinner.” He uses it every night he’s serving white wine.

Best wine cooler sleeve

If your wine enthusiast is more of a picnicking type, this Le Creuset wine-cooler sleeve, which Hughes gives a thumbs up, uses two removable gel packs to chill a bottle of wine in 30 minutes — and keep it cold for another 90 minutes.

Best wine cradle

As with beer, pouring wine from just the right angle can make a world of difference. That’s where wine cradles come in: They allow you to pour your wine from a 20-degree angle, ensuring that sediment doesn’t get into your wineglass or decanter. Sommelier and winemaker André Hueston Mack loves the Portae Wine Cradle, featuring a leather sling and an aluminum frame, not only for being functional, but also “1,000 percent a work of art!”

Best wine coaster

Villafañe suggests giving a marble wine coaster to keep their table, or table linens, protected from drips. Her pick is a steal and a good option for secret Santas, bosses, and co-workers.

Best giant icicle that chills wine fast

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.” Hughes is also a fan.

Best wine carrier

“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 eventually you have to leave wine country, and that’s a little less painful if you have a way to haul some wine home with you. 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,” she says. “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.” Hughes recommends this lightweight 12-bottle wine carrier. It’s “an economical and effective solution (think heat protection) to traveling with wine. And it features both styrofoam and pulp inserts,” she says.

Best corkscrew

“Laguiole is always my corkscrew,” says Villafañe, who appreciates its French craftsmanship and array of price points.

Best (less expensive) corkscrew

Copeland, however, is a forever fan of the humble but effective waiter’s corkscrew, which she calls “simple and direct.” This set of four would make a wonderful gift for wine lovers who tend to lose their corkscrew or those who like to keep one on hand at all times.

Best corkscrew for vintage wines

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,” says 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.”

Best wine server and saver set

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,” says Eric Tschudi, sommelier and head bartender at Shuko in NYC. “While I wouldn’t recommend it for sparkling wines, the included pump gets the wine-killing oxygen out of the bottle and helps keep still wines fresh for days.”

Best non-vacuum wine stopper

If your favorite wine lover has limited mobility or strength, or simply doesn’t feel like vacuum-pumping a bottle of wine to keep it fresh, André Hueston Mack highly recommends Pulltex, which creates an airtight seal, keeps wine fresh for up to ten days, and features a day indicator so you can easily remember when it was first opened. “And it works unbelievably well for sparkling wine,” Mack says.

Best Champagne stopper

$10

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,” says Joshua MacGregor, former 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.”

Best wine rack (that encourages recycling)

“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.

Best thing to eat with wine

Our experts mentioned a bunch of delicious and giftable food pairings for red, white, and bubbly wines including good salumi, paté, terrines, and Marconi almonds. But two experts — Hughes and Copeland — independently told us that freshly popped popcorn with salt and real butter is a perfect match for crisp white and sparkling wines.