Christmas is officially upon us! That festive feeling is in the air and it's only a few weeks before we gather around together and start opening some presents. What to get for the wine lover in your life, though? We're a notoriously picky bunch and there are so many accessories, books and other items out there, it's hard to know what to choose, and that's without even considering picking wine itself! Fear not, for help is at hand. Here's our selection of top picks for this Christmas:
Now, this happens to be our speciality! We originally created our high quality wine luggage as a way to help people bring back wine from their holidays, but we've discovered that people use them just as often to bring wine to tastings and parties locally, as well as even storing wine in them for short periods. We're very proud to help thousands of wine lovers around the world transport their wine safely and stylishly, and for this December only, we're offering 10% off all of our luggage and wine suitcases. Just use the code 'TW10%OFF' when you get to the check-out on any of the following items:
Lazenne Wine Check – The Classic. The Wine Check is a safe, convenient, and legal way to fly with 12 bottles of wine, champagne, beer, cider, hard liquor, or olive oil! This specialized, airline-approved luggage can be checked onto a plane and its lightweight design allows you to stay under the 23 kg (50 lb.) airline weight limit for luggage! Stylish and genius in its simplicity, bringing wine around the world has never been easier, or safer!
Lazenne Wine Check Elite – The Lazenne Wine Check Elite is a step up from our classic Wine Check, with customisable, heavy duty polystyrene bottle protectors and extra flexibility. For short trips, simply remove half the bottle protectors and use it as a complete solution, with space for both your normal luggage and 6 bottles of wine. There's space for sparkling wine, bottles with an awkward shape and even magnums!
VinGardeValise Grande Hardshell Suitcase – The VinGarde Valise is the peak of personal wine transportation, with the most robust, personal protection for air travel. Practically indestructible, this wine carrier has a 100% polycarbonate shell and dense closed-cell foam that will enable you to transport all of your favorite wine with no risk. The carrier is extremely durable to withstand rugged handling by airlines and other baggage handlers, as well as being incredibly stylish. The ultimate peace of mind!
Wine literature is always a good gift idea, and we're currently in something of a golden age of writing, with both classic texts being updated as well as new, exciting projects appearing across a plethora of subjects. Here are our top 3 picks for wine books that are sure to make a splash:
The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting by Neel Burton (3rd Edition): The third edition of this indispensable book is just about to be released, and we can't think of a wine lover that wouldn't love to have this at their disposal. Whether you're taking exams or pride yourself on your blind tasting ability, there's no book that breaks it down and offers such a wealth of knowledge on the discipline as this handy little number. Not only is there an entire section dedicated to the art of blind tasting, but also in-depth descriptions of regions, grapes and styles allow you to approach blind tasting like a professional; blind tasting is ultimately a test of theory, using a glass of wine to gather the evidence. A must-have, even if it won't arrive until after Christmas itself!
Amber Revolution by Simon Woolf: One of the most striking books of 2018, this recently released tome covers the history, culture and modern production of so-called 'Orange' wine. As the world rejoices in different wine styles more so than ever before, Simon Woolf looks deeply into skin-contacted white wines and what role they've played historically, as well as the differences in production, style and flavour around the world today. Gorgeous photography, detailed descriptions and all-in-all, a beautifully crafted book that is already the recognised authority on the subject.
The Essential Guide to Champagne by Peter Liem: Peter Liem is an incredibly impressive figure in the world of wine, diving deeply into subjects that catch his interest and getting to the heart of the matter. Never has a book been written that covers the history, terroir and styles of Champagne in such concise detail, and the reproduced Larmat maps of the region that come attached are worth the price of admission in their own right; they've never been reproduced in English before! An absolutely essential, must-read book for any wine student or wine lover who's ever enjoyed a glass of Champagne.
Wine glasses are a trickier option as they tend to be very personal, but our own experience is that you can never have too many! Whether it's a specific style and shape for particular wines or an all-purpose glass, there's a lot of choice out there. Here are our top picks:
The I Collection – Created this year by Jancis Robinson MW and designer Richard Brendon, these are truly superior glasses for the wine lover looking for an all-purpose solution. Driven by pragmatism, these glasses are designed to accommodate white, red and sparkling wines of every style, without the need for different bowl shapes, stem heights and sizes for each wine you pour. Dishwasher friendly despite the incredible delicacy of the crystal, these are the sorts of glasses you'll find yourself drinking from on a daily basis. There's even matching water glasses and decanters. Sturdy yet stylish and brand new on the market; we can't think of a wine lover who wouldn't be delighted to receive a set!
Zaalto Burgundy – Zaalto are world famous wine glasses, produced in Austria yet in demand the world over. Wafer-thin and so precise, these veritable gymnasts of the glass world are as thrilling to drink from as they are terrifying to clean! However, the one glass they produce that is essential for any Burgundy lover is certainly their broad, Pinot Noir glass, specifically designed for these hauntingly beautiful wines, although we've found it superb for Chardonnay, Syrah, Nebbiolo and even Nerello Mascalese, too! There's a reason these are the most famous wine glasses in the world.
Gabriele Glas – For something a little sturdier and less likely to shatter, Gabriele Glas produces some of the worlds best all-purpose glasses that don't break the bank. Designed to accommodate different styles of wines easily and effectively, this Austrian producer has gone from strength to strength and it's always a good sign when you see them in a restaurant, and is often indicative of an excellent wine list to boot! The more affordable option for high-end glassware.
There's a huge amount of wine accessories out there and, like most industries, a fair amount of nonsensical options as well. However, some wine accessories have stood the test of time and are a worthy addition to any wine lovers arsenal. The trick is to keep it simple, yet aim for quality; choose items that a sommelier would consider essential and you're on the right track! Here are our top 3 picks:
Coravin – When Coravin was first released, there was a huge fuss around the concept; a device that allows you to drink a glass of wine without ever properly opening the bottle; genius! By extracting wine via a needle and then filling the empty space with a neutral gas, restaurants are now able to serve high quality wine by the glass without worrying about having to sell the rest of the bottle immediately, and it's led to some of the worlds most interesting 'By the Glass' wine lists. However, even for home consumption, this is a nifty little device and one that you'll find gets more use the longer you own it, so make sure to get some extra gas capsules!
Code 38 corkscrew – We've always been in two minds about expensive corkscrews; they're the sort of accessory that's easy to lose and for most people, it's simply not worth the investment. However, if you're opening lots of bottles on a regular basis, this is the Rolls Royce of corkscrews and the difference is incredible. Made-to-order and at the very top of the food chain, this is a special present indeed!
The Durand – This is an essential accessory for anyone opening older bottles of wine, as it allows you to extract older and often more delicate corks with ease. No sommelier in a high-end restaurant or wine bar would come to work without it and, with a little practice, it almost becomes easier than using a traditional corkscrew! A serious wine accessory for the serious wine lover in your life.
With the world of wine constantly evolving and progressing, it's hard to keep up with just how diverse and vast the industry is today! Wine education has never been a more important facet of the wine world and, fortunately, there are various different ways to go about keeping up to date and improving both your knowledge and your skillset. Here are a few examples for curious minds:
WSET Courses – The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is the worlds most widely recognised and admired education body, with tens of thousands of wine students across the world studying for one of their 4 levels. From a basic introduction to the world of wine, all the way to the 2 year Diploma course, there's a gradual but significant increase as you move through the syllabus, covering every aspect of wine with a particular focus on production, style and tasting technique. The WSET Diploma, their 4th and final level, is also the stepping stone to the coveted Master of Wine course so, if you have a particularly ambitious wine lover in your life, point them in this direction!
Purple Pages – Jancis makes a second appearance in our list, this time for her main project of the worlds most informative and detailed wine website; Jancisrobinson.com. With a team of experts covering the worlds major wine regions and styles, articles are published daily and tasting notes for well over 100,000 wines are logged into their database, with thousands more added every month. From Masters of Wine to wine-makers, students, sommeliers and enthusiasts, this site is perhaps the most valuable wine subscription service around, and considering its huge value, is very fairly priced. A wonderful Christmas gift!
The World of Fine Wine – This is the single most comprehensive, luxurious wine magazine around, published quarterly and full of indepth reviews of regions, wines and ideas for the worlds leading experts. The glossy, gorgeous photographs are complemented by the sort of information you'd normally only ever find on subscription websites, and this remains the #1 wine magazine in the world by some distance. To read it completely from page to page requires a full, distraction free day!
So, there you have it, our Christmas list for wine lovers the world over. Buying a gift can be stressful, particularly for someone with a passionate, niche interest and so we hope we've helped you with our condensed list of essential gifts for wine lovers. Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!
For more on our specially designed wine luggage and more detailed information on how to travel with alcohol, check out the links below: