Who better to advise on the best gifts for the wine enthusiasts in our lives than some of the best wine pros in British Columbia?
Leanne Quirk is the wine buyer and manager at Firefly Fine Wines and Ales on Cambie Street. When I asked her for a recommendation, there was hardly any hesitation in response.
“My new favourite wine gift is the Repour, which keeps one bottle of wine fresh over multiple pours and a period of time,” she said. “My colleagues and I experimented a lot with this. I’ve opened a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass and then put in the Repour, and have left the wine on my counter for days. When I pour myself another glass, it’s just as fresh as the day I opened it.”
Rather than replacing the cork or cap of an open bottle, just place the Repour in the top, and its material absorbs much of the oxygen inside, allowing an extension of the wine’s life span. Its use is generally one per bottle, but at places like Firefly they’re only $4 per unit, or you can get 10 of ’em for $26. For more information, visit repour.com.
Over at Yuwa Japanese Cuisine on the West Side, coproprietor Iori Kataoka, one of the best sake sommeliers in the city, was thinking along similar lines. She opted to tout the wine-access technology of Coravin. As opposed to Repour’s technology for already opened bottles, a Coravin mechanism’s needle pierces through the cork of an unopened bottle to allow small pours; once the needle is removed, the cork reseals naturally. A pour or two of bigger reds, in particular, allows a preview of what’s in the bottle; what’s left in there can last years.
Kataoka describes it as “a gift from God, with zero commitment to the same bottle. You can change around tasting white, rosé, red, or even sake in one night without worry of hangover from feeling obligated to finish off open bottles.”
The best part?
“You don’t have to wait until you have your friends come over to open a good bottle of wine.”
Coravin, which starts at about the $265 mark, is available at private wine stores around town or direct from the local distributor at thewinesyndicate.ca.
Caroline Musselli, who is the wine buyer and manager at Liberty Wine Merchants’ Point Grey location, laughs when I call her for a recommendation.
“I’m just not really into wine gadgets. I mean, I barely have a decanter at home! But I love reading about wine and would love to gift the World of Fine Wine magazine to serious wine aficionados. I love everything about it, from the contributors to the writing style to fantastic photography. Yes, it’s serious, high-end publishing, but there’s so much great content and it’s the only wine magazine where I hold on to every single back issue I have.”
For more information on purchasing print or digital copies, visit the World of Wine website.
While we’re on reading material, that’s what Cassandra Mosher—who oversees the wine program at Mount Pleasant’s ¿CóMO? Taperia—had in mind.
“My ideal wine gift for a local wine enthusiast would be Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible. It’s perfect for anyone starting out in the industry or who is just enthusiastic about it. I have probably bought six copies of it and given them all away to coworkers and friends. It’s comprehensive yet entertaining and a fun read!”
Margot Baloro is the general manager and runs a kick-ass British Columbian wine program at Forage and Timber in Robson Street’s Listel Hotel. I love that she opted to think not only local wine country, but hyperlocal!
“I’d love to go with a Fraser Valley e-cycle four-hour guided winery tour that starts and finishes at Vista D’oro, one of the Fraser Valley’s heritage farm-gate wineries. Guests can customize the e-cycle tour to include other wineries such as Township 7, Backyard Vineyards, Chaberton Estate Winery, and many more.”
While mentioning that more information can be found at the Fraser Valley Cycle website, she adds: “l love learning, so I always try to gift an experience. The Fraser Valley is a wine and farm area close enough to the city to access it regularly, and just far enough away to disconnect. Most people don’t realize they can have a wine-country experience in their backyard.”
Of course, the holidays are all about celebrating, and often that includes bottles of sparkling wine being shared. Sure, we can always simply pop a cork, but sometimes sabering a bottle just adds a good extra dose of hoopla. If you’re inexperienced, ensure you have a few online tutorials under your belt.
In saying this, let’s zip to the Okanagan Valley, where JoieFarm Winery proprietor and winemaker Heidi Noble had just that in mind.
“I think my pick for a wine-related gift would be a proper sabre. I have a great one from Claude Dozorme—which you can purchase from Knifewear ($170)—that has a festive red tassel on it, making you feel like a real pirate when you use it to sabre that bottle of bubble.”