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Wine of the Week: Annual holiday buying guide, part 1

WTOP's wine expert Scott Greenberg has a Christmas list for the wine lover in your life. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Garik_Klimov)

‘Tis the season to be jolly, unless of course, you are one of “those” people who typically procrastinate and leave your holiday gift-buying obligations until the last minute. Then, it’s ’tis the season to panic.

But fear not. Even though the holiday season is in full swing, there’s still time to find just the right gift for wine-loving friends and family members on your shopping list — and have it delivered in time for Christmas.

While buying a bottle (or two) of wine may seem like an easy gift to give, it can also be a dicey proposition. As my wife is fond of saying, buying the right wine for someone is like buying a purse; it’s all a matter of taste. And since everyone’s palate is unique, that special bottle you thought would be the hit off the wine rack just might end up getting relegated to the dreaded pass-along-gift bin.

But fear not. It turns out that there is a huge assortment of accessories to suit every wine lover’s interest, as well as every buyer’s budget. Here are a few wine-themed gift ideas that every wine enthusiast will love — including me.

Every year I recommend wine decanters. I just don’t think you can ever have enough of them! Wine decanters are not only a stylish, but they are also an incredibly practical gift. Decanting serves two purposes: to separate a wine from any sediment that may have formed in the bottle as well as to aerate a wine, enhancing its aromas and flavors before serving. They come in a variety of styles and shapes. Check out the selection at Wine Enthusiast, where they range from $25 to $100.

You can never have too many wine bags. I like wine tote bags that can carry two bottles of wine. They’re perfect for picnics, a romantic outing, or discreetly bringing your wine into a restaurant. It is certainly better than slipping it into a paper bag. Find one with an over-the-shoulder strap and preferably an insulated interior. Some wine totes will even come with glasses, napkins and a corkscrew. Bed, Bath & Beyond features a canvas tote for $14 and Wayfair has a large assortment of totes ranging from $25 to $50.

Cookbooks that feature wines are always a good bet, particularly if you are as obsessed about wine and food pairings as I am. My wife recently picked up a copy of “Wine Food: New Adventures in Drinking and Cooking” by authors Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker, and I cannot put it down. It features 75 wine styles and expertly pairs them with 75 recipes. There are some traditional wine pairings, as well as a few avant-garde matches that expanded my palate (and my waistline). Available on Amazon for $17.

Thinking of a big splurge? How about a personal wine-by-the-glass dispenser? While a little air can help a wine develop aromas and flavors in the short run, too much air will oxidize and ruin a wine. So, what’s a wine lover to do when one only wants one glass out of a precious bottle? Why, use the Coravin Wine Access System! The Coravin system’s unique design uses a long needle to penetrate the cork and argon gas (an inert gas that will not interact with the wine) to push it out. This allows you to access, pour, and enjoy your favorite wines by the glass whenever you would like, without pulling the cork, keeping the wine safe from oxidation and allowing it to continue to age naturally. You can access the wine repeatedly, giving you the freedom to pour a glass from a favorite bottle at any time. However, flexibility has a price — and a stiff one at that. The Coravin Model Two Wine System includes two argon gas cartridges and runs about $300. The Limited-Edition II “Ultimate Bundle” (with multiple accessories) will set you back about $700. Both are available through high-end wine shops, Amazon and directly from Coravin.


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