Now that we're officially in the holiday season, it's time to fret about what to get the wine lover in your life (or for yourself, I'm not judging). I'll be covering special bottles worth giving in future columns, but today is all about the other wine-related gifts out there if you're a little unsure about the recipient's tastes.
"The Wine Bible 3rd Edition" by Karen MacNeil
Is there a single wine book that I've gone back to over and over again more than this one? Probably not. From the history of Napa Valley to the details of Slovenian wine classification, its 900+ pages are full of the details and nuances that make loving and drinking wine a lifelong pursuit. For most people I know who love wine, this book served as a road map to obsession. The book's third edition just came out and it has already taken a coveted place on my bookshelf.
Created by the team that made the hit documentary film "Somm," SOMM TV is a streaming service dedicated to wine-related content. It features full-length films like the original "Somm" (along with its two sequels) and wine-centered series. My favorite, "A Closer Look At," takes an in-depth look at some of wine's most complex topics, while the newly released "Sip Trip" is a guided tour through Italian wine that will have you brushing the dust off your passport. At just $5.99 a month ($49.99/year), you'll be hard-pressed to find better wine content on the web.
Decanters make perfect gifts when you know someone likes wine, but you don't have the faintest idea what they actually drink. With their myriad shapes, styles, and sizes, it's easy to find one that fits your loved ones' aesthetic, and you'll look extra thoughtful giving them such a seemingly highbrow gift. A good decanter can cost as much as $500, but don't worry, the ones priced at $20-$30 work just as well.
If you find yourself rarely finishing a bottle of wine in a single evening, Private Preserve can be a lifesaver ... well, a bottle-saver, at least. Filled with a neutral, heavier-than-oxygen gas (composed predominantly of argon), a puff of this into your bottle before closure will keep the oxygen from changing the wine's flavor in your fridge. This stuff has become a regular fixture in my kitchen and can extend a bottle's life by days at a time. You can order it online or find it at several local shops. It's a great, inexpensive gift that can even fit snuggly in a stocking.
The Coravin wine preservation system works much in the same way as Private Preserve, but the Coravin allows you to pour individual glasses of wine without ever uncorking the bottle. It uses a needle inserted directly through the cork to siphon out wine and replace it with argon gas. Coravin can extend the life of some wines by several months. Coravin offers multiple styles and systems to choose from, with entry-level models starting at $120.