For better or worse, Christmas is just around the corner. That means, like every year, plenty of eating and drinking and receiving gifts, which is great. Having to buy them doesn’t bring so much pleasure -apathy is a rather more usual feeling. To ease the pain a little bit we bring readers a two-part article with gifts for winelovers: the first part below includes 10 wine-related objects which go beyond decanters and glasses; the second part will be published next week and is focused on hedonistic wine experiences and activities.
If you’d rather buy your beloved one a special wine, the Spanish Wine Lover team will soon reveal their favourite wines of the year which might serve as a guide to help you choose among the thousands of options available in the market.
Arguably the most revolutionary invention in the world of wine this century, Coravin lets you sample wine from unopened bottles. The way it works is simple: a needle pierces the cork and extracts the dose of wine required by the user without the need to remove the cap or the cork. After the wine sample is obtained, the cork reseals itself thanks to its elasticity and returns to its previous state preventing the wine to come into contact with oxygen.
Coravin, which uses argon gas to replace the space left by the wine in the bottle, ensures that the remaining liquid can safely rest in the bottle and maintain its qualities, so it is perfect for those with an extensive collection of bottles and for wine geeks who like to see the evolution of wines. Its inventor, American Greg Lambrecht, has spent 15 years developing this gadget, based on technology developed by the medical industry.
It is not a cheap present. It costs around €300 including VAT, although argon gas capsules must also be purchased at about €10 per unit, each one capable of filling 15 glasses. The more capsules you buy, the cheaper they are, though. The product is sold under a two-year warranty.
With the current restrictions on hand luggage on flights, it is difficult to buy and bring home wine from shops other than the airport duty-free stores. There are no limits for checked baggage, but the risk of breakage deters many wine lovers from buying wine to take home. Wine Skin sleeves are effective and inexpensive (available on Amazon from $10 for two protectors) but for frequent travellers or those wanting to purchase an impressive present, the Lazenne suitcase is a great gift. It can carry up to 12 bottles and can be checked in like any other suitcase. The advantage is that, in addition to wheels, the Lazenne is lightweight, can be folded and fits inside another bag or suitscase when not needed. It costs $113 and can be purchased online.
The vinous version of Monopoly is a good gift for lovers of board games. Instead of streets, players can purchase regions like Jura or famous vineyards such as Corton-Charlemagne (which replaces Mayfair in the British version or Paseo de la Castellana in the Spanish game) while train stations become worldwide trade fairs. The aim of the game is the same as its real estate equivalent: to become leading magnates with the purchase and sale of estates and vineyards in order to gain control of the board. The game is called Monopoly La France Viticole and so far there is just a version in French. It costs €49.80 and is available on this website.
There is an English version called Wineopoly, available on Amazon from $22 plus shipping. Grape varieties and types of wine replace streets here whereas players must spend long periods in the Aging Cellar (jail) and the community chest and chance cards boxes order players to pay customs and import duties.
If the Wine Monopoly is already wrapped up and your budget allows further expenses, this table might be the perfect partner for the French board game. Made of cork and shaped like a champagne cork, it is suitable for both indoors and outdoors. It weighs 9kg and is 50cm high, so perfect to let your champagne glass rest. It costs $290 and can be purchased online here.
Urbansai was a project launched by two young people from Girona, in northeastern Spain, along with some vineyard owners in Empordà and Penedés. Their aim is to extend the vines’ life so once the plants have fulfilled their role on the vineyard, they are treated and cleaned. Leaves are then inserted manually in the vines to get the look of a natural plant but without the need to water or taking care of them. Vines can be purchased on the Urbansai website with prices ranging from €90 for the smallest plant to €400 for larger versions.
They are pretty, practical and apt for the environmentally conscious, as they are made from sustainable birch ply wood. If you are good at assembling Ikea furniture, putting these little animal pieces together will be a piece of cake. The bottle rack set includes a reindeer, a penguin, an elephant and a doberman and can be purchased online for €30 each.
They are the perfect gift for wine-loving hipsters who travel around the city on Fixie bikes or for socialite stroller-pushing mums and dads. The bright orange carrier holds up to six bottles and was initially designed to hang on a bicycle frame but can also be carried on the bike handlebar or a pushchair. The bag will set you back €39.95 - you can watch a video and buy it here.
A minimalist version of this portable device is the leather wine rack. It only fits one bottle, but it elegant, stylish and easy to store anywhere. You can purchase it on Etsy for €28.
If you are short of money but have plenty of imagination and are good at handicrafts, Design Rulz has many interesting ideas to recycle wine bottles and turn them into gorgeous design items. Don’t worry if you lack the skills and patience - you can always go online and buy a pair of cool sunglasses such as the Woodzee Sierra. The wood-framed shades are made from recycled oak barrels used in Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines, so the California appellation is guaranteed. Lenses are polarized and UV400 protected. They are priced at $120 and can be purchased on Woodzee's website.
A corkscrew is not the most original of gifts unlike it happens to be The Durand, the perfect tool for old wine aficionados. It ably removes corks from old bottles without the danger of disintegration. It works slightly differently to other corkscrews: as well as the conventional screw, it includes a set of blades to go down the side of the cork to separate it from the glass and extract it safely. The Durand costs $125 plus $15 for transport worldwide and can be purchased on their website.
If The Durand leaves you out of pocket or you’d rather start a corkscrew collection to rival that of Museo Dinastía Vivanco in Briones (La Rioja), you could buy this bull corkscrew. Clearly inspired on Spanish folklore, the iron-made screw is also a handy bottle opener. It only costs €4.99 so if you want to complete the gift with another practical tool, you could buy this practical Pulltex glass cleaner (€10.60), a sponge brush that reaches all corners of the glass to remove water traces at the bottom.
Very handy for wine geeks who enjoy writing notes about the wines they taste. The hard back book contains 96 pages and includes a ribbon marker, an elastic pen holder and a pocket at the back to store business cards, tasting notes and other bits and bobs. The two lines of text on the front of the notebook can be personalised. It costs €11.85 plus shipping and it can be purchased on this website.