Affordable Gifts for Wine Lovers

From decanters to DIY wine art


Looking for that perfect gift for your wine lover? Well, it can be a frustrating and exhausting search. The obvious answer is to buy a bottle of wine. But that may not always be a viable option, so why not help outfit your wine lover with the best accoutrements? The great thing is that the best doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive and sometimes the tried and true tools are better than the newest invention!

For every type of wine lover there is a suitable gift. Whether it’s as simple as a great corkscrew or a new wine journal, or something more involved (and if you want to take a look at the biggest and best wine gifts, check out last week’s article, Great Gifts for Wine Lovers: From wine reviews to personalized Bordeaux tours), there is something for everyone in today’s top wine gift countdown!

There are three styles of corkscrews worth recommending, though I generally use my trusty waiter’s friend. That’s the standard corkscrew, though in my case it comes with dual levers, which makes extracting the cork easier, and an extra long, grooved screw for extra traction.

I also use an Ah-So two-pronged cork remover for tender old corks that might crumble when a corkscrew is used and a lever-style opener for when I’ve got a lot of bottles to open. But that waiter’s friend is my go-to opener, and the Trudeau Double Lever Corkscrew is only $9.99.

Decanters are used not only to allow wines to open and breathe, but also to pour wines off their sediment. There are so many decanter styles out there that is can be dizzying, and while I’ve known a few people who have collected decanters for display, most of us just have one or two everyday decanters. That pretty much means smallish, easy to clean glass, and not too ornate.

While a funnel can seem like an odd gift idea, it sure comes in handy! I routinely double-decent my older wines. Simply put, that means I carefully pour the wine out of its bottle into a decanter, leaving the sediment behind, then rinse the bottle out before returning the wine to its original bottle. This way I can ensure clear wine to the last drop, while not mixing up bottles and decanters. While I can pour the wine from the decanter back into the bottle without a funnel, having one makes the job much easier! Some funnels even come with screens to help separate solids from the wine.

Wine journal
A wine journal is as valuable a tool as in for a wine drinker. Keeping track of what you drink, how your wines are evolving, and how your palate changes over time is just one of the aspects that makes wine fun! Having a nice journal to record all your memories simply makes it that much easier to do. I like journals that are simply lined as opposed to pages that have a templated format. I may spend an entire page on one wine only to jot down a single line on another and appreciate the flexibility simply lined pages afford me. I also like my wine journal to be sized for easy portability, and having a steno-style pad makes it easy to write on the run!

Wine books: The old
Since we’re flirting with books, talking about wine journals, I might as well go ahead and add the book that got me started down the path of wine geekdom: Michael Broadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, the original version, which is sadly out of print. A second edition was published in 2001 and if you can track either of them down they may both be a little dated but still contain some of the best basic wine appreciation guides ever written.
Available new and used from Amazon

The Big Wine Book
Looking for a reference work on wine? While there are a few options on the table, The Concise World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson gets my nod as the tome to buy. Pretty complete, well organized, continuously improved and now in its 6th edition, The World Atlas of Wine is a reference-standard work worth having. $20 from Amazon

Wine books: The fun
Does the wine lover on your list have every book in print, or are you not sure which books might on their shelf? Well, you can go the fun route and pick up the newly printed The Art and Design of Contemporary Wine Labels by Tanya Scholes. This book offers a look at some of the most interesting wine labels of our times, with the story behind each one. It’s a surprisingly good read and attractive compendium of some of the most artistically inspired labels of our day. $30 from Amazon

Wine art
Speaking of artistic representations, wine has been the subject of advertising posters basically since the inception of advertising posters. There are many reproductions on the market, which is great if they are sold as repros, since many of these images are not only beautiful, but are wine-related! These posters range from about $20 all the way up to thousands for original antiques.

Wine maps
If you can’t find a wine poster that is suitable for your wine lover, consider wine maps! The best of these maps combine artistic color combinations with the details of where the best wines come from. I can spend hours with my wine maps and as I learn more about wine I find that they have become my most valuable resource! Alessandro Masnaghetti’s detailed maps of Piedmont and Tuscany are my current favorites, and are available either individually or in a set from The Rare Wine Co.

DIY wine art
So, you like the art idea but aren’t sure what to buy. Well, ask yourself if your wine lover collects corks. If so, perhaps a do-it-yourself wine art project might be a great idea! Almost any sturdy frame will hold corks well, and while many kits seem to want to put the corks to use as a trivet, the truth is us wine geeks would rather display our keepsakes than scorch them! I particularly like wine barrel hoop kit available from available from The Wine Enthusiast for $50.

To view the photos for this article, go to 8 Great, Affordable Wine Gifts.

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