Wine Uncorked
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2009 ~ No. 12    
Holiday Gift Guide

For the wine lover or the experience seeker, the hard-to-please or the hard-to-buy-for, there is something for everyone in this gift guide. I have tried to find items that are unique, inspiring or just plain fun. Use it wisely, and happy shopping!

Decadence…and Then Some
Giving someone a bottle of wine and box of chocolates is so old-school. Try a chocolate-dipped bottle of wine instead! Goosecross Cellars in Napa Valley wraps a bottle of their cabernet in cellophane then dips it in a half pound of milk or dark chocolate. A second layer of festive wrapping completes the package. Recipients break the chocolate by removing the inner wrap from the neck down, then uncork the wine and enjoy. Order online or by calling 800-276-9210. $60

The Hands-On Experience
Ever wanted to harvest grapes or work a crush? King Ferry Winery, maker of Treleaven Wines in King Ferry, New York offers “working tours” for groups of up to six people. These special tours are available throughout the year and offer a chance to get up close and personal with the winemaking process. This experience includes a personal tasting with the winemaker, owner or tasting room manager. Call 315-364-5100 or 1-800-439-5271 to schedule. $250

Molecular Oenology
Get a really close up view of your favorite wine with a microscopic portrait of Chablis (pictured), Champagne or red or rose wine. BevsShots blends art and alcohol by using a high-powered microscope to photograph images of wine, spirits and beer. The resulting modern art is placed on canvas or gallery-grade paper. Order online. $19.99 for photographic prints; $49-549 for fine art.

Get It In Writing
Turn an ordinary bottle of wine into an extraordinary gift with a simple signature. David Stevens of 750 Wines in St. Helena has great relationships with some of Napa’s most sought-after artisan winemakers and wineries – and persuades them to sign bottles for his customers! Availability (at press time) includes a gift set of the 2007 Robert Foley Vineyards Claret, the 2007 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet and the 2007 Switchback Ridge Merlot crafted by winemaker Bob Foley. Have a special request? Just ask! Call 707-963-0750 to place an order. Prices start at $300.

Modern Art
If your idea of a wine rack involves squares, think again. Designed by Gideon Dagan, these racks are interesting on their own and a modern sculpture when snapped together (see photo.) Made of injection molded transparent ABS polymer, each unit holds 9 bottles. Each individual rack measures 19" l x 19" w x 8.5" and comes in orange or amber. Available at Maison 24 or by calling 888-806-2424. $75

Sartorial Splendor
Wine Barrel Cuff Links are crafted with wood taken from actual wine barrels used at premier wineries in Napa and Sonoma. Rustic and naturally hued from the wine it once held, the wood is set in sterling silver. Available online. $120

Making Scents
Wine and perfume don’t usually go together – but in this case, they are nearly the same thing. Salud Scent Studio has created a line of perfumes that echo the aromas of wine. Fragrances include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah. Order online. $22 to $34 per bottle

What Well-Dressed Wine is Wearing
The Aspen Wine Chiller is hand-crafted from stoneware clay and designed to resemble the trunk of an aspen or birch tree. It is perfectly sized to hold a bottle of wine and enough ice to keep it cool as you sip! Order online. $50

For the Person Who Has Almost Everything
StoneStreet Winery in Healdsberg offers the wine lover’s fantasy tour. This package for four begins with a helicopter tour of the vineyard and Sonoma’s Pacific coast. Once you’re back on the ground, one of StoneStreet’s wine educators leads a tasting of the estate’s single vineyard wines, comparing and contrasting flavors and nuances. Call the winery at (800) 355-8008 at least two weeks in advance to book this excursion. $4,000

For the Person Who REALLY Has Everything
Go off the beaten path and head to the wilds of Scotland for your own bottle of bespoke Scotch. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience at The Dalmore, where Master Distiller Richard Patterson will personally blend a bottle of Scotch based on your personality, tastes and preferences. The Scotch comes in a hand-crafted case, and this extravagant holiday for two includes four nights in Scotland, first-class airfare and transfers, city and country tour, private barrel tasting of resting casks, and a day of falconry with Mr. Paterson. Contact Laura Baddish at 212-221-7611 x304 to arrange. $85,000

Wine Knot?
Art and wine become one thanks to artist Robin Antar, who created the Wine Knot. It stands on its own as a work of art, or holds two bottles of wine at the ready. The first sculpture was hand-carved from a solid piece of stone; a cast was made and used to create resin versions. It measures 16”h x 11” w x 9”d and can be custom ordered in a variety of colors. Order online. $600

Chill Out
If you never remember to chill a wine bottle until dinner is on the table, the ravi is your new best friend. This unique product fits around the neck of a bottle and chills the wine up to 12 degrees as you pour. Just keep the middle insert in the freezer so it’s at the ready. There is even a feature that allows you to control the temperature – perfect if you need just a slight chill in the glass! Click here to find a retailer near you. $39.95

They Go Together…
Infuse your cooking with Vino Cotto, a naturally sweet cooked wine syrup crafted from an authentic Calabrian recipe. The family-owned company has been making this old world treat for four generations in Italy and since 1970 in Massachusetts. With its flavors of plum and raisin, it is perfect drizzled on everything from chicken to cheesecake! Order online. $15.95

Create Your Own Wine Cabinet
Treat yourself to the ultimate in wine storage with a custom wine cabinet from Vinotemp. These handmade wood wine cabinets can be made to blend in with any surrounding. Use a base model as a jumping-off point or start from scratch, picking the size, color, hardware, custom details, cooling system and more. Call 800-777-8466 to discuss the best options for protecting your wine collection. Prices start at $1,395

Pamper Yourself
Luxury skincare company ARCONA offers a wine hydrating mask to nourish and rehydrate tired skin. It contains wine extracts and Resveratrol, which combine to offer anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Who knew – wine is good for you inside and outside! Available online. $38

Hang Time
Just say no to silver foil wine bags! Instead, show off the beauty of the wine label –and your thoughtfulness – with these gift tags crafted from recycled wood. A silk ribbon ties around the neck of the wine bottle, making for an elegant and festive presentation. Inspired by old school paper shipping labels, these labels come in dozens of colors and patterns, with a solid side for writing a personalized message. Order online. $2.99 to $4 each

The Perfect Ending
In addition to crafting wine, Arbor Hill Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region offers a line of wine-based finishing sauces, including Cracked Peppercorn Cabernet, Lemon Caper Chardonnay and Vidalia Onion Riesling. Order online or call 585-374-2870. $5.50 per bottle

Farmstead Follow Up

Finally, finally, finally I got to taste two sample bottles from Farmstead Wines. Both were good, and wines with the Farmstead label are certainly worth seeking out.

Renato Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba 2006: Loved this from the first sip. Earthy and aromatic, with soft strawberry flavors giving it some charm. It was a pleasure to drink this wine and I was really sorry when the bottle was finished! Price: $40 Rating: B3

Martin Arndorfer Gruner Veltliner 2006: Yummy aromas with soft floral flavors on the palate. Shows nice acidity and a hint of minerality. Sip this one quickly, though – it faded as it was sipped over the course of two hours. Price: $35 Rating: C3

Prices are estimated retail. The wines are rated A to F for quality (C is average) and 1 to 3 for value, with 1 a wine that tastes better than its price, 2 is neutral and 3 is a wine that isn't up to snuff for the cost


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