Uncommonly good gifts from Uncommon Goods

 

It’s that time of year again – when people scramble to find just the right gift for their wine friends.  I like to find unique items that you won’t always find at the big box stores, and my friends at Uncommon Goods came up with some terrific ideas to fit the bill.

Uncommon Goods was founded in 1999, and features unique gifts and handcrafted items that are particularly kind to the environment, people, and animals.  While they are not local to me, I step outside of my “shop local” zone for the holidays because Uncommon Goods is, quite frankly, pretty cool.  Going above and beyond what most retailers do, they run their operations from an historic building in Brooklyn, where they give back to the local community by paying their local seasonal workers a minimum of 50% more than the average wage in the area.  Their mission is to support artists and designers, particularly those that make their wares by hand.  This is the kind of company I encourage all of you to support, whether they are local, or not.  Going above and beyond, Uncommon Goods also offers design challenges, tours and classes to further empower the inner artist in you.  I know that the next time I am in Brooklyn, I will make it a mission to book a tour and check this place out.  I also know, that given their large selection of wine gifts and glassware, decanters and accessories, I will be doing some shopping there for the holidays!  Not in to wine?  No problem!  Then have gifts for everyone.

Here are some of the wine themed items that I think will make excellent gifts this year:

Soiree Home Self Chilling Wine GlassesScreen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.45.20 AM – Now, I own several Soiree Tilt Chilling Spheres, and they are the best invention ever.  If you don’t own any, you need to buy some right now!  But the self chilling wine glasses take this a step further.  With an insert that you freeze, and place in the bottom of your glass, your white wine, soda, or other beverage will stay cool through the entire glass – for as long as you are sipping it.  As someone who shudders when people put ice in their wine (egads!) these are a fantastic innovation, and much like the Tilt Spheres, these glasses are the next generation and a must have.  $50 for 2

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.48.54 AMTwist Decanter – this pretty table top decanters aerate your wine and also is a nice center piece.  The curves allow up to half a bottle of wine to breathe and open up, and full of red wine it is simply gorgeous. If you’re looking for a statement piece, look no further.  They are compact enough to fit in even the smallest cabinet, and easily refilled without making a mess.  $29.99

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.38.27 AMZinZag  – the Wine Game – Half trivial pursuit, half wine tasting challenge, this game takes your wine party to a new level.  With 3 bottles of wine and up to 6 friends, you work your way around the board, with brainteasers, blind tastings, and a lot of fun!  $35

These are only a few examples of the wine themed gifts but there are endless selections of other handcrafted and creative items on the Uncommon Goods site.  Go check it out and see for yourself.  When you purchase from a company like Uncommon Goods that is uncommonly good to it’s employees, it’s community, and the world at large, you are doing your part to make the world a better place.  Go ahead, I dare you!

Some items were provided by Uncommon Goods for review, but all opinions and shopping habits are my own!

BINGO!

Bar Bingo that is.  Have you ever been in a total useless meeting or concall at work and wish you had an escape?  Many of us who came of age during the digital revolution got our feet wet on Bullshit Bingo for our Palm Pilots in the 90s and early 00s.

Well, now there is Bar Bingo.  Happy hour just got a lot happier with this silliness.  Drink one of each of the drinks – 5 in a row and POW!  You win!  It’s actually pretty hilarious, especially if you’re game for a mix of drinks.

Did you get picked up?  B!

Wear your sunglasses inside because you’re so cool?  I!

Well the N is free so…

Text your future ex husband?  Or girlfriend?  G!

And finally, did the bartender show his flair with a shaker?  O!

You win!  Play with your friends in the bar and buy each other rounds.  Makes for a very interesting evening to be sure.

I have one of these Bar Bingo pads to give away, just comment on why you want to play bar bingo and I’ll pick a winner in the next week!

They also have Rate That Wine! which is a great tool for the beginner wine drinker to learn about some of the common attributes of wine when rating it.

Have fun!

Playing with balls…

 

Second labels are hot right now.  They are one way for a winery, who might be struggling with the economy, to use some of their juice and develop a lower price point wine.  or they might just be a way for the winemakers to have a little fun with their wine.

Pétanque wines are made by Michel-Schlumberger, a leader in California premium wines, specifically for enjoying BBQ season, picnics, and Pétanque, the French game of lawn bowling.  recently, I had the chance to attend their opening party at Michel-Schlumberger, where the wines were being poured, the balls were being thrown, and band was swinging.  for $25, we got to eat the yummy food, dance with the Brother Cat Band, and drink all the wine we could!  In fact, Judd kept coming around to refill our glasses.  Probably to keep us, the riff-raff out of the rest of the crowd  😉

At the party, I was able to taste the line up of affordable, easy drinking quaffers that are value priced between $12.95 and $16.95  At these prices, you can enjoy a bottle every night!  part of the fun of these wines, is that we were outside in the garden, drinking from tumblers instead of glasses, and playing with balls as we drank and danced all afternoon long.  What a fun day!

First, I tasted the 2007 Sav Blanc.  On a warm spring day in Dry Creek, this hit the spot.  The grapes for this citrus driven white were from Paso Robles, and it was aged in stainless steel  It’s a nicely balanced low alcohol wine at 13.^%.

Next, even though I generally run screaming from Chardonnay, I had to give this one a try.  Most because my friend Judd was pouring it, but hey, what the hell  this is actually an unoaked chard, which made me smile.  I am not a huge chardy fan, and this was was decent, even if it wasn’t my favorite.

My favorite of the lineup, and the one I drank all afternoon over and over, was the 2006 Syrah.  It was a big soft syrah, that came from right there in Dry Creek Valley.  It was very easy to drink and I did.  A lot!  I wasn’t really taking notes, but I just remember this was a fantastic BBQ wine.

Next, came the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This came from the Sierra Foothills, and I was surprised about that since I don’t generally associated that area with Cab.  It was ok, but not really my cup of tea.  I found it too woody.

The moral of this story is, if you find a winery that makes a second label, and you really enjoy their first, give it a shot!  There are great values out there and you might just have some fun trying them!  I’m big on the budget wines, and while I appreciate a special bottle and drink lots of that too, I love that there are tasting treats out there that are prime priced for a party.

 

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