WHAT TO BUY THE WINE LOVER IN YOUR LIFE
My Christmas Gift Guide for Wine Lovers
Christmas gifting is a tricky business. I’m often asked to recommend a wine to buy as a gift for someone, and the truth is, it's a really hard question to answer. It depends on so much. Wine tastes are so personal, as is the question of how much you want to spend; you can get something special for £20 or £200 or £2,000. Then there's the deeply personal aspect of what this wine lover would consider to be something special - something classic like a Grand Cru Burgundy? Celebrity fave, Tignanello? Or something challenging and painfully trendy? The potential for getting it wrong, and over-spending in the process is high.
So here's my list of wine-related gifts that I believe would genuinely delight anyone with an interest in wine. They are things I either own and really rate; or things that are on my own Christmas wish list! And they span a wide range of price points.
And none of them are wine stoppers or elaborate electronic corkscrews!
I haven't been paid to make any of these recommendations, but if you purchase anything from one of the Amazon links, I will earn a small commission thanks to the Amazon affiliates program.
1. A genuinely great wine book - Cork Dork
One of the best, most entertaining and insightful books about wine, and the love of it. A digital journalist quits her job and decides to get under the skin of why so many people become obsessed with wine. Hilariously funny, honest and interesting.
Buy Cork Dork £8.99 from Amazon
2. The brand sparkling new edition of The World Atlas of Wine
Simply a stunning, classic wine book. Each region has a succinct but info-rich page or two, with gorgeous maps, and beautiful writing from Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. (They are kind of like the Dumbledore and Professor McGonagal of the wine world).
The latest edition is a must-have in any self-respecting wine lover's collection, and has a beautiful emerald green cover.
£31.88 from Amazon
3. The Science Of Wine by Jamie Goode
Essential reading for any serious wine lover. Myth busting, very readable, and will seriously level-up your wine knowledge and confidence.
£24.42 from Amazon
4. The Sommelier's Atlas of Taste: A Field Guide to the Great Wines of Europe
Another beautiful wine book that covers the key old world regions - Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace etc. It's written by Jordan Mackay and Rajat Parr. Rajat Parr is a winemaker behind Domaine de la Cote in the Santa Rita Hills. If you've seen Somm III (and your wine loving friend will probably have done) he features as a talking head a lot and you might also remember that it was his wine - Bloom's Field 2014 Pinor Noir that won against some top drawer Burgundy in the recreated The Judgement of Paris that featured on the show. (Wine legends Fred Dame, Steven Spurrier and Jancis Robinson tasted French and Californian Burgundy and Rajat Parr's wine came out of top).
What I particularly like about his book, apart from the stunning photos, is the fact is discussed what these famous wines taste like - and how to draw them apart from similar wines from other regions.
£21.00 from Amazon
5. Stunning Zalto Glassware
Zalto produce the most beautiful glassware I've come across. Gossamer-thin and extremely light-weight they feel barely-there in your hand, as if the wine has been introduced to your palate by sheer magic! 67 Pall Mall have entirely Zalto glassware in their cushy member's only wine club. They are expensive but a set of 2, 4 or 6 would be a smashing (sorry) present for any wine lover.
A set of 2 will set you back £68.50 while a set of 6 costs £203.69.
You can purchase Zalto Glassware here
6. Three Spirit - A Non-Alcoholic Artisanal Spirit
Ones things for sure, if your friend works in, or otherwise drinks a lot of, wine, they will also probably be looking for ways to reduce their alcohol intake. It’s something of an occupation hazard.
They are also most likely someone interested in flavour, scent, and the quasi-spiritual ritualistic power of a well-crafted liquid.
A wonderful trend to have flourished over the last few years is for non-alcoholic ‘spirits’. These promise all the flavour complexity of a spirit, but without the guilt. And in some cases, they even offer some medicinal or ancillary benefits, whether that's a calming night cap or botanical energy boost.
The most successful brands have been taking their design cues from premium spirits and thus they feel eminently giftable.
New on the scene is Three Spirit which has three versions with three different benefits - The Livener, The Social Elixir, and the Night Cap.
So much more interesting than an unimaginative bottle of whisky (the socks of the alcoholic gift category) for someone that sees themselves as a drinks connoisseur this would make a wonderful gift.
There are loads of cocktail recipes you can make from them. Perhaps gift it with a selection of perfect serve ingredients - angostura bitters, tonic water, ginger ale.
You can buy all of them, £24.99 each, or a cute little trio for £39.99 from the brand's website
7. A Genuinely Useful Wine Gadget - A Coravin
This is a genuinely useful bit of wine kit.
Pierces the cork, extracting wine in exchange for neutral gas, enabling you to drink a glass or two without compromising the longevity of the wine.
Much wine gadgetry is a bit naff and space wasting. This one is something actually worthwhile owning.
From £188.69 on Amazon
8. Nez du Vin - Wine Nose Training Kit
An extremely luxurious gift for a serious wine lover, especially anyone taking wine exams.
This kit enables you to train your nose, by memorising a myriad of wine scents. Through repetition, the neural pathways in the brain are strengthened between the aroma stimuli and your conscious recognition of it.
This is essential for developing wine skills as deconstructing wine aromas is an essential part of critical wine analysis.
The complete set, with 54 aromas, will set you back £282, available from Amazon
9. A Jancis Robinson-designed decanter made by craftsman Richard Brendon
Jancis Robinson worked with Richard Brendon to design the perfect set of glassware. They arrived at the perfect, universal wine glass, a stemless wine glass, a decanter for young wine (maximum air space) and a decanter for old wines (something in which to decant wine from the sediment but not expose to too much oxygen, so it's designed with less surface area and a glass stopper.
Frankly, anything from this collection would be a beautiful gift.
Young wine decanter - £100
Old wine decanter - £125
Pair of glasses - £70
10. Wine Map jigsaws from a kick-ass young female Master of Wine, Rebecca Gibb
Particularly the Bordeaux map - this is a fun gift for someone interested in wine, especially someone doing any wine exams who needs to be able to mentally recall this essential wine map!
£18.99 available direct from Bambozzled.games
11. Blow up bottle protectors for your suitcase imports
You can pack as many bottles into your suitcase as you like with these handy protectors made from recyclable plastic.
With a little mini pump, they don't take up any space on the way out. I take a collapsible empty bag on the way out. This gets filled with heavy items and becomes carry-on for the return trip, making space and weight allowance for checking in your bottles!
From roughly £10 on Amazon
12. Subscription to some excellent wine publications
Purple Pages - Jancis Robinson's wine website
Authoritative, witty and beautifully written. An invaluable resource, really.
£85 for yearly membership.
An oldie but still a goodie
Quite a fun thing to receive every month and browse through, and dive into the occasional in depth travel or regional profile.
£48.99 for a print subscription. Everyone loves getting something in the post don't they?