Holiday Gift Ideas: What Every Wine Lover Should Have

There are a few essentials, and some frillies, that I’d put in gift wrap for anyone who enjoys wine.

The first is a bottle of Wine Away, which removes red wine stains from furniture, clothing, rugs – any fabric, pretty much. Made by Evergreen Labs, it costs about $10 for a 12 ounce spray bottle. I saw it on the shelf at Corkscrews Wine Bar in Tahoe City, but it is widely available.

Why is this important? Well, recently I was enjoying a tasting of Opolo’s wonderful wines with Kristi Snyder, Sommelier at Lone Eagle Grill at Hyatt Incline, and the sales manager for Opolo, Cary Thrasher, who was pouring their 2007 Mountain Zinfandel. Poor Cary poured the Zin right on his lap when his attention flagged for a moment. He was wearing taupe colored wool slacks. Kristi jumped up and got the Wine Away, handed it to Cary with a wet napkin. About half a bottle later (it was a BIG spill, and too bad, because the Zin was wonderful), Cary’s slacks were back to normal color.

If your wine loving friends don’t already have it, buy them a copy of The Wine Bible, authored by Karen MacNeil . A weighty paperback at 910 pages, the word “Bible” just begins to describe the importance of this book. About $20 new, and on used book sites, as low as $4. Drew Conly, wine server at the Fat Cat Café in Tahoe City, was pouring a taste of the Montepulciano they have by the glass. Out comes Drew’s well-worn copy of the Wine Bible, and we looked up a few references to Tuscan wines. Drew was so intrigued by The Wine Bible that he took it on his trip to Italy last year.

A few good wine glasses, one for reds, one for whites, are always welcome gifts. I’d recommend the Crate & Barrel “Elite” Chardonnay glass that stands 8 ¾” high and holds 22 oz. Plenty of stem to keep your warm hands away from cooling down the wine. $5.95 per glass. For the reds, a great everyday wine glass is the Spiegelau “Vino Grande” Burgundy glass, six for $52.95 at If your giftees already have red and white glasses, think about the Riedel “Wine Collection” Pinot-Nebbiolo glass, a set of four at $49.95 at

Taking care of your wine glasses is as important as having a few good glasses. I am a great fan of the Brushtech handled cleaner, and the small brush is fine even for big glasses. $6.95 at, perhaps a dollar or two more at a wine shop. The manager of the La Bodega Winery shop, located in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, TX, suggested adding a touch of bleach every few months to keep it bacteria free.

An absolute must for any wine adventurer who drinks inexpensive red wine of an untested quality: a Vinturi Wine Aerator. The standard one at $39.95 is a fine choice. Check it out at Corkscrews in Tahoe City. The explanation is this: it mixes just the right amount of air with your wine as you pour it through the device and into your glass, allowing your red wine to breathe instantly. Results are a better bouquet and flavor. The company also makes a white Vinturi wine aerator now too.

Some stocking stuffer ideas are the Epic Screwpull foil cutter made by Le Crueset. You can find it for $12.99 at, or at many wine shops or kitchenware stores. Or consider the fun of “drinkware”, foam coasters for the bottom of wine glasses. Take a look at; for designs ranging from flip-flops to holiday designs to golf caddies; $15-20 for a set of 4, depending on the design.

Wine and the holidays. A perfect pairing!

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in December 2009.

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