Holiday Wine Gifts 

Holiday Wine Gifts

Got wine lovers on your gift list but don't really know what kind of wine they like? Think wine accessories. Most everyone has a corkscrew in a drawer somewhere, but why not give the best? Simply put, Le Creuset makes the finest wine openers on the planet. Their Screwpull models may not sport polished bone handles or gold trim, but from a practical standpoint, nothing beats them. If price is no object, the Lever Model is the ultimate, extracting the cork with a quick push and a pull. But at around 100 bucks, it's not for every budget.

The Table Model is closer to $20, and while it takes several twists of the wrist, it still gets the job done nicely. My favorite is the Pocket Model, a compact package that employs an extended arm for increased leverage, making it easier to spin out the cork. Other than the fluid extracting motion, what really sets all Screwpulls apart is the long, Teflon coated screw. The most stubborn cork yields easily to these excellent tools.

Once open, your wine deserves a decent receptacle, and no one beats Spiegelau when it comes to the price to quality ratio. They have different stems for different wines (Cabernet, Pinot, Zinfandel) each specifically designed to enhance the flavor and aroma profile of that grape. I don't know exactly how it works--I just know that it does. And while similarly designed crystal from other companies can set you back anywhere from 20 to 50 bucks, the Spiegelau comes in at about $10 a stem. If you shop around, you can find an even better buy on a box of six.

One last gift idea comes in handy when the bottle doesn't get finished (an admittedly rare occurrence at my house). A few years back, a study showed most products designed to preserve open bottles were not all that effective. Refrigerating the leftovers beat out the other techniques, with one exception: the Private Preserve Wine Preserver. A spray can filled with a harmless combo of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and argon (environmentally safe--no CFCs), the Private Preserve layers the wine with a protective blanket of inert gas. It's based on the expensive systems used in better wine bars, preventing the spoilage that comes from exposure to oxygen. Priced under $10, it's good for 120 treatments and a great gift for your favorite wine geek. :

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