One of the easiest people to buy for on your list this year is the wine lover. There seems to be no end to the wine books, videos, gadgets and accessories that pour on to the market each year. Even the budding oenophile will appreciate these gifts. The books can be purchased from most major bookstores across the country, while the accessories can be found in specialty wine stores in your area or by calling the stores listed below. In addition to these selections, most of the provincial liquor stores offer special gift packages for the holidays.
The beautifully illustrated, panoramic maps of Oz Clarke’s Wine Atlas of the World include the major grape growing regions of the world as well as lesser known areas such as the Western Balkans, Asia and the Black Sea States. The book also provides an overview of the winemaking process as well as the major wines for each region making it an excellent resource book for any wine library. The opinionated British wine critic Oz Clarke keeps his prose lively, deftly sidestepping the dense and deadly category into which wine resource books often fall. His Pocket Wine Guide 2000, is essential whether you are dining in or out. In it, you will find most wines on the market rated and described, as well as a barrel full of useful information. The atlas is $80.00 and the pocket guide $18.00.
In 1985, Joy Sterling left her career as a television journalist to manage the marketing of her parents’ Napa Valley winery. Vineyard: A Year in the Life of California’s Wine Country is her third book about life at Iron Horse. With its extravagant photography and leisurely prose, it is both an elegant coffee table book as well as strong addition to any wine library. Sterling brings us up close to the crush and into intimate nooks that we likely would miss even if we were walking through the vineyard. Produced with photographer Andy Katz, the book is published by Simon and Schuster and retails for $35.00.
Wine with Food by Joanna Simon is one of the best for exploring wine’s relationship with all types of dishes, trimmings and sauces. Simon will help you answer such questions as which wine complements Thai food, can you serve white wine with red meat and will any wine stand up to spicy, hot chili? The book, published by Simon and Schuster, retails for $34.00.
For those who’d rather watch than read, the eponymously titled Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course follows the wine writer as she travels to each wine region chatting informally with leading vintners about their wines. The video series is also packed with helpful tips from choosing the right glass to decanting wine. Perfect for those holiday evenings when you want to curl up with a glass of ice wine and watch something other than the latest Lethal Weapon sequel. Available from the Wine Establishment in Toronto (416-861-1331) for $129.95.
The Most Useful Wine Gift Award this year goes to a decanter stand that allows you to dry decanters after washing them. The pine version is $19.95 and chrome is $29.95. Available from C.A. Paradis in Ottawa (613-731-2866).
Wine glasses always make a great gift. The market leader Reidel offers the Vinum line for $24.95 per glass or the Overture line, an excellent value at $12.95. Try giving a set of six or more so that they may be used for entertaining. Available at the Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver (604-684-0445).
The Lear Jet of corkscrews, Screwpull’s Elegance Leverpull corkscrew makes the struggle to uncork wine a thing of the past. At $359.95 it should probably open the bottle for you, but that’s probably next year’s model. Available at the Marquis Wine Cellars.
Inevitably even the most careful tipplers may topple their red wine on a light carpet or pair of pants. Don’t worry, there’s Wine Away, a red wine stain remover that works on most carpets and materials. It’s $17.95 at the Wine Establishment.
For preserving wine try Private Preserve. Though many wine lovers never need to preserve a half finished bottle (and would think it bizarre that anyone should), for those who have simply topped out on their last bottle of Chateau d’Yquem, this aerosol nitrogenous spray removes the oxygen in the bottle so you can recork wine to keep it fresh for a few days. The can is $19.95 at C.A. Paradis and will preserve up to 120 bottles.
Did you ever fantasize about running a winery? Now you can do just that without giving up your day job. The Monopoly Game: Napa Valley Edition allows players to move their pieces around the board while haggling over such august wineries as Beaulieu, Robert Mondavi and Stag’s Leap instead of the classic Park Avenue properties. Available from International Wine Accessories (800-527-4072) for US$35.00.
The Baccahanales game will help you improve your wine tasting skills while you play. With 44 reusable scent essences, 50 tasting guides and a test aroma glass, both beginners and enthusiasts can sharpen their ability to distinguish a wine’s quality, origin and characteristics. Available from International Wine Accessories for US$94.95.
Don’t forget stocking stuffers such as a 4-bottle cream canvas wine bag for $13.95 from Stoney Ridge Cellars in Vineland, Ontario (905-562-1324), ice wine jelly for $4.95 per jar and fruit-flavoured salsas such as cranberry-cabernet sauvignon for $6.95 from Mission Hill Winery in Westbank, British Columbia (250-768-5125) and damask white napkin sets with woven grape names for $24/set of four from Cave Spring Cellars winery in Jordan, Ontario (905-562-3581). All the wineries deliver custom baskets filled with such delectables as ice wine truffles, tea towels, books, clothing and of course, the old stand-by gift: a bottle of wine.