It’s that time of year again, when buying truly suitable gifts for friends and family can become a bit of a challenge. So here’s a round-up of some books and gift ideas for wine lovers, from stocking-fillers costing just a few pounds, to luxury items.
The Avina Bottle Stopper is fairly expensive for what it is I suppose, but it does have the unusual advantage of being suitable for re-sealing bottles of both still and sparkling wines, and it is solidly made. Insert the rubber plug into the bottle neck, and closing the lever cause it to expand and create a spill-proof seal. £12.99 with ‘Prime’ same day delivery included from Amazon UK.
Fizz fans will enjoy two new books on the subject: Robert Walters’ Bursting Bubbles is subtitled ‘A secret history of Champagne & the rise of the great growers’, and takes a pragmatic look at the region, without the usual air-brushing to which the grands marques are prone. £14.24 including Prime delivery from Amazon UK. Jonathan Ray’s Drink More Fizz leans much more towards the coffee-table style, printed in full colour and introducing 100 of “the world’s greatest Champagnes and sparkling wines,” with anecdotes, quotations and short essays sprinkled throughout. An enjoyable read at £14.99 with Prime delivery from Amazon UK.
I love half bottles of Champagne and quality sparkling wine, which are so handy for some occasions (I was going to say ‘perfect for two’, but then so is a full bottle!). Deutz is one of my favourite non-vintage Brut Champagnes, and Champagne One has it in gift boxes at £17.45, with next day delivery possible, whilst any Champagne lover would be thrilled with a half bottle of Krug, the cheapest supplier I can find being N.D. John at £54.95. Both are decadent stocking-fillers, but for those feeling patriotic, another superb choice is a half bottle of the Brut Reserve from Exton Park, £16.95 from Stone, Vine & Sun.
Two fairly heavyweight books on the subject of organic, biodynamic and natural wines will certainly provide reading – and discussion – way past the 12th night. American author and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring’s book is not about natural wine per se, but about vineyard soils. The Dirty Guide to Wine is full of contentious opinion, discussing the ‘effect’ of different soil types and recommending wines based on that. It’s one sceptics will enjoy pulling apart, as much as true believers. £20.00 with Prime delivery from Amazon UK. Jane Anson’s hardback Wine Revolution is focused on “The World’s Best Organic, Biodynamic & Natural Wines,” and once again falls more into the illustrated coffee-table category. It’s not, but could be one of those ‘250 wines to try before you die’ titles, as that number of wines is introduced, along with grower profiles and food-matching ideas from sommeliers. £15.78 with same day Prime delivery, Amazon UK.
If you have a little more to spend, how about two ranges of functional wine furniture for the person who has everything? The new range of Soho Wine Display Cabinets from Spiral Cellars appear to be beautifully crafted with steel and brass fittings and a choice of natural wood or painted finishes. Sized to hold from 56 to 136 bottles, Spiral Cellars is offering a specific gift package with a bottle of classed growth Bordeaux and corkscrew in a box to place under the tree, plus a menu card for the recipient to choose their cabinet. Prices start from £15,900. A little more affordable, the quirky Luxury Wine Cooler from London-based Kaelo is an electric, free-standing piece of furniture that uses electricity and some clever technology to keep a chilled bottle at perfect temperature. Available in a choice of finishes at £995 for Christmas – £400 off its regular price – Kaelo also produces a number of variants, including a sofa with the cooler built into one arm.
One more book recommendation for this Christmas is for the wine lover who also enjoys true-life crime and thriller novels: In Vino Duplicitas by Peter Hellman tells the story of the world’s most famous wine forger, Rudy Kurniawan, who over six years faked and forged ultra-rare and expensive wines. He sold bottles with near worthless contents to the world’s rich and famous wine collectors for tens of millions of US dollars. Detective work and mistakes by Kurniawan led to his downfall, arrest and imprisonment and this book tells the story. £19.99 in hardback with Prime delivery, Amazon UK.
And finally… wine-pages’ very own Festivals of Wine will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London in 2018, and tickets priced at £25 could be the best value Christmas present of all :). Tickets for each festival let you taste from hundreds of high quality wines being poured by winemakers, importers and merchants, with an optional programme of superb masterclasses too. See festival-of-wine.com for details and tickets.