Annual gift giving guide


In our household, the day after Thanksgiving can only mean one thing -- trying to figure out what gift I am going to get the man who already has every wine-related gadget for the holiday season. Personally, I like giving (and getting) "usable" wine gifts, something that can be helpful year after year. So, if you are scrambling for a hostess gift, Secret Santa present, stocking stuffer, or the perfect gift for your wine lover, look no further. I've got you covered. Prices are approximate.

A terrific introductory book for someone overwhelmed by wine options is "The One Minute Wine Master" by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW ($15). The crux of the book is a one minute questionnaire that identifies potential wine varietals categorized into 'seasons' most likely to be palate pleasing. It's a "" for your palate, if you will. The research is self-guided. Pick a selection and start popping corks.

Who can resist chapters entitled Hangover Cures & Responsible Revelry; Aphrodisiacs & Magic Tinctures; and Healing Juices. That's what you'll find out in "Dr. Cocktail -- 50 Spirited Infusions to Stimulate the Mind & Body" by Alex Ott ($17). Ott's knowledge of organic chemistry and hints of his well-traveled background infuse the recipes, pictures and prose. Many recipes have nonalcoholic options and include unique ingredients that may not be in the average kitchen pantry. The photography is at times playful, mystical and serene.

A perennial good introductory book for the novice is "Wine for Dummies, 5th Edition" by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan ($23). Use it as a guide to determine what topic you'd like to learn more about and then find a specific book on that wine topic.

I definitely have the book, "Power Entertaining" by Eddie Osterland ($22), on my "must have" list for my husband. This book provides tips and advice for incorporating wine and food events into your business plan and shows how to turn your passion to profit.

A fun and unique wine tasting equivalent of a multiplayer online game is (prices vary). Register on the website and chose your varietal. The two wines for your chosen battle are shipped to your home -- if allowed in your state -- along with instructions and a game kit. Invite friends over to play and then record your vote for the wine of the week. Repeat when the next two wines in the battle are delivered. Not inexpensive but a unique and recurring gift depending upon the option selected.

What do you get when you cross a cordless screwdriver with a corkscrew? A man's idea of the perfect wine opener, of course. Made by SKIL, the iXO Vivo corkscrew (about $60) has a unique corkscrew attachment that removes a wine bottle cork in under 10 seconds. This is perfect for the handyman wine lover.

I admit, this last gift idea is a bit pricey, but the Wine Satchel by First World Trash ($110) -- produced in storm-ravaged Queens, NY -- is unique, artsy, and environmentally friendly. This six bottle wine satchel is made of recycled materials. The handle and removable, adjustable shoulder strap are made from car seat belts. The bottom is reinforced by bike inner tube rubber. The body of the satchel is made of old billboards. The bottle divider is collapsible so you can repurpose the bag as a tote when not toting wine. It's a win-win-wine all around! Pun en-tire-ly intended.

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