As promised, Team Wine has come up with goodies for the wine lovers on your holiday list—no wineglass charms or bottle-toppers here. We’ll start with stocking-stuffers (today), work our way under your tree (this weekend), then offer up some splurges you’ll want to write Santa about (next week).
Take your wine’s temperature
This stainless steel band (above) with a thermal strip looks like a mood ring but works like a charm, slipping over a standard 750-ml. bottle and letting you know when it’s at the perfect serving temperature. The cuff lists a number of grape varietals and wine styles. It’s temporarily out of stock at Uncommon Goods (one of my favorite gift catalogs, and where I bought a few wine-temperature cuffs last Christmas), where it retails for $10. But Catching Fireflies has it for the same price.
Pop out the cork with an “Ah So”
This is my go-to “corkscrew.” Before getting to know this two-pronged puller, I was a habitual cork mangler. Never used one? Check out these photos or this video to see how easy it is to pull out even the remains of a split cork. Great for lefties too! Wineries sell ah so’s for $5–$7 (I got mine in Sonoma at Chateau St. Jean’s amazing wine shop), and so does Amazon.com; if that link’s store is sold out, just search Amazon for “cork puller.”
Gadget purists: Check out the original German Monopol Ah So. Made entirely of steel, it retails for $30.
Stop juggling with these wine clips
No more awkward fumbling of plate in one hand and wineglass in the other, and fewer broken dishes. Nubby little rubber grips gently pinch onto a plate and provide a steady hold on your wineglass, freeing up a hand for refilling that plate and glass. An Amazon.com retailer is selling sets of 6 for $17.
Spray away stains with Wine Away
Wine editor Sara Schneider spritzed this on a sweater that I’d inadvertantly tinged purple during a Syrah racking adventure. I thought the sweater was a goner, but this stuff is magical. Phosphate- and bleach-free, Wine Away gets its power from fruit and veggie extracts. And it’s made by a family company in Washington State. Buy a small bottle for about $8 at BevMo and quite a few grocery stores and wine shops. Sur La Table even carries a tuck-in-your-purse mini three-pack ($9), for the accident-prone who chance dining out.
Subscribe to WineMaker magazine
On the one-year-and-counting quest of Sunset’s Team Wine to make our own Syrah and Chardonnay, we’ve consulted WineMaker articles and advice columns many times. It’s the magazine for home winemakers—from working with kits to raising and crushing your own grapes to experimenting with fruit wine, WineMaker has that wannabe winemaker in your life covered. While you’re at their website, get a sneak peek of the magazine’s second-annual amateur winemaker conference (May ’09 in Napa), where attendees swap bottles and glean advice from pros. A one-year (six-issue) subscription is $25—roll up an issue and tie it with a bow.