Christmas gifts 12-13-2023

So, you want to give a wine-related gift for Christmas. Some recommendations.

Avoid kitschy wine gadgets. Some include:

• Colored wine glasses, glasses with illustrations on them. You want an adequately sized, tulip-shaped glass that is clear so you can see the color of the wine.

• Stemless wine glasses. Yes, once a rage. But stemless glasses quickly get covered with fingerprints, your hands warm the wine, and they make wine swirling difficult. All three are bad.

• Foil cutter. The cutter cuts the foil too high on the bottle, almost near the lip. The proper cut is below the bulge. Or simply remove the entire foil with a knife or pull the entire foil capsule away with your hand. Cleaner, nicer, better.

• Wine charms. These are tiny pieces of jewelry that go on the stem as your way of claiming that is MY wine glass. This seems like a solution desperately seeking a problem. If you have a problem keeping track of your glass, you likely will have a problem remembering which charm was yours.

There are worthwhile wine gifts:

• Simple wine decanter. If they already have one, they will appreciate a backup or for those times when serving two wines. Forget about super fancy ones that are impossible to clean and easy to break.

• Waiter’s friend hinged corkscrew. Has everything you need to open a bottle of wine and is cheap enough to be a stocking stuffer. Worst choice—winged corkscrew. Everything about a winged corkscrew is wrong.

Natalie MacLean

• Good read about wine. My suggestion: Natalie MacLean, Canada’s most popular wine expert. Her latest book, her third, is Wine Witch on Fire. I was a pre-publication reader for her and wrote this blurb: “Wine wizard wordsmith, enchanting interviewer, battle-tested survivor, fierce mother, witty, wise, easy-on-the-eyes—Natalie MacLean is the whole package. Sip a Canadian wine while you savor her memoir.” Google her for her website, online wine classes, and weekly appearances on Canadian TV shows.

• Wine chiller. Essentially an insulating shield to keep wine at the proper temperature for hours. The most popular are made of stainless steel or marble. They can be pre-chilled to be even more effective.

• Wine fridge. Sure, a big ticket item. It’s Christmas. A six-bottle cooler: $130. A 600-bottle unit: $6,000. It is the best way to store wine.

• Dinner together at a quality restaurant with a good wine list. Being with loved ones and not gimmicky wine stuff is the real point of the season.

Last round: For Christmas, I bought my wife new beads for her abacus. It is the little things that count. Wine time.