The holidays will be here before we know it, so let’s get a jump on our shopping. While there’s a sea of products out there that are aimed at wine lovers, I’m a fan of useful gifts rather than those that lean toward novelty or are merely ornamental. All of these recommendations are likely to be put to good use by the oenophile on your list.
Had A Glass 2015: Top 100 Wines Under $20
This book is a perennial Vancouver stocking stuffer. With each new edition, wine guy James Nevison wades through wines that are available in B.C. for under $20, presenting them alongside easygoing profiles, food-pairing suggestions, and much more. The book itself is a bargain at $19.95 through all the usual retailers, and it’s the epitome of the gift that keeps on giving all year long.
Riedel O Series Cabernet-Merlot wine Glasses
It’s been 10 years since Riedel came out with these stemless wine glasses, and I’m happy they weren’t just a fad. I’ve found numerous ways to break stemmed glassware, from polishing mishaps to an accidental punt off the coffee table whilst crossing my leg, but these ones seem to go the distance around my house. They’re fun and casual yet still look pretty slick, plus you can get just as good a swirl on them as with traditional stemware. Available in pairs for $29.90 at the Riedel Canada website and many private wine stores around town.
Marquis Wine Club
Well, look what we have right here! For over a year now, the Georgia Straight has presented the Marquis Wine Club, a monthly home delivery of hand-selected (really cool) wines, curated by the savvy staff at Davie Street’s legendary Marquis Wine Cellars. There are five subscription packages to choose from, from two easy-drinking reds monthly for $44 to the Ultimate version “for the discerning wine lover”, which gets you six bottles monthly for $160 at the Marquis Wine Club website.
Wine & Spirits Magazine digital subscription
Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Wine & Spirits are the holy trinity of U.S. wine magazines, but I’ve found that sommeliers are most likely to be found flipping through Wine & Spirits. I recently had the privilege of sitting on one of the magazine’s tasting panels and was impressed with how spirited, open, and honest the conversation was about the wines we were (blind) tasting. There were no agendas or steering of votes, just genuine takes on wines readers should (and shouldn’t) be drinking. For US$19.95, you get all eight issues per year beamed straight to your iPad. Visit the Wine and Spirits Magazine website.
Vancouver International Wine Festival Tickets
Can you believe it’s almost time for the Vancouver International Wine Festival again? It happens next year from February 20 to March 1. During the signature event, from February 26 to 28, 170 wineries from 14 countries will be pouring over 750 wines in the big International Festival Tasting room at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and tickets are already moving at a brisk pace. Staying ahead of the game can get you tickets for the February 28 Saturday matinee tasting for an advance rate of a mere $58 until December 31 or while quantities last (Visit the Vancouver Wine Festival website).
Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses
If you have someone in your life who keeps saying they’d love to take a wine course, why not give them a little boost? London’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust is a world leader in this certified curriculum. A peek at the Wset Global website will show you when the next classes are being held in your neck of the woods. There are plenty of levels and options, but as just one example, your giftee could get their Level 1 certification after a nine-hour intensive on January 10 at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Vancouver for $328.
Educational wine prints and regional maps
I think I might do that cliché Christmas-shopping thing and pick up a couple of these for myself! The incredibly informative and fun Wine Folly website has a slew of well-designed prints that would look sharp on many a kitchen wall. From infographics on wine styles and guides to food and wine pairing to brightly coloured maps of the world’s most notable wine regions, they offer both beauty and function. Prints start at US$16 with discounts when you purchase more than one. Visit the Shop Wine Folly website.
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut from Champagne, France
Because who’s going to complain if you give them Champagne for Christmas, especially when it’s this peachy, nutty, citrusy wonder from designated Grand Cru vineyards ($56.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)?