Last Minute Wine Gifts

It’s the 5th day of Hanukkah, and Christmas is only 4 days away.  Whatever you might be celebrating at this time of year, if you’re like me – you are scrambling for some last minute gift ideas for the wine lover on your list!

Soiree – in bottle aerator.  This is my go to wine aerator, and the pretty bottle topper makes any bottle festive.  Available in several optional gift configurations, this pretty glass topper allows wine to flow around the glass bulb, giving it time to breathe and encouraging the aeration process for any bottle of wine.



CapaBunga Capabunga – these innovative bottle toppers are handy little buggers when you want to recork something for ready access.   A reusable silicone cap that reseals a bottle of wine, the concept was inspired by the bung caps that are used to reseal wine barrels.  Once you pop a Capabunga on your wine bottle, it’s air – and wine – tight.  No more spills if you knock the bottle over!  I am impressed by the usefulness of these gems, and at $7.95 for a pair, they are also great for resealing beer or champagne bottles.  I have had a bottle of bubbles still fizzy after a day in the fridge.

Indigo Root Drink Dotz are fun and creative wine glass identification stickers, which are a great alternative to those annoying wine charms.  Do you remember Colorforms?  You know, those sticky plastic things that you could affix to anything, and reuse, stick again, etc…well these are colorforms for drinkware!    For $10, you get a set of Drink Dotz and Wine Wrapps, which wrap the bottom of a wine stem.  What a fun party gift!  With creative designs and holiday themes, these are great for your next party and last forever.  Indigo Root also sells fun temporary fabric wall squares, called Tilez, which are perfect for apartment or dorm room decorating.  In fact, I’m going to decorate my apartment with some!

The Exes in my iPod
:  A Playlist of the Men Who Rocked Me To Wine Country – a raucously good read by my wine buddy Lisa Mattson, exploring the iidiosyncrasiesof love, life, and laughter amongst great music and wine is a must read for anyone navigating wine country, dating, or just wants a good laugh with a happy ending.


The Essence of Wine – while the first run of the print book is sold out, the ebook of this wonderful pictorial and educational meandering through the discovery of wine.  Pre-order a copy or order an ebook today, for enjoyment all year long.


Corkscrew – the ultimate in luxury corkscrews, the Legnoart or Laguiole corkscrews are weighty, balanced, and have teflon coated screws for easy manipulation in the cork.  The right corkscrew is worth $1000 for any wine lover, so they can easily and quickly open that special bottle.  While you’re at it – add in a good foil cutter to ensure that the capsules are cleanly severed at the lip, and that there are no raw edges.

For the Cards Against Humanity lovers on your list, how about a game of wine discover? Zin Zag is a fun game, complete with an excuse to open 3 bottles of wine, which challenges your knowledge and your palates.  Play with the brainteasers and blind tasting challenges and sip away!

St. Supery Red Wine & Bacon Pairing – more on this in another post, but if you’re heading up to Napa for your holiday fun, be sure to stop by St. Supery Winery in Rutherford.  Tucked away upstairs, the special experiences such as the bacon & red wine tasting.  Explore St. Supery’s specialty with five Bourdeaux blends, each paired with a tasty morsel of pure delight.  Advanced reservations required.

Happy holidays!  Want more unique wine ideas?  Let me know!

Don't rush this pinot!

No pinot should be opened before it’s time!  In this case, it’s been sleeping for a few years, so I think the 2009 David Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is safe to be consumed.

This is what I consider to be the now classic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  It i big and rich, and full of chewy black cherries.  After a pass through my trusty Soiree however, the wine opened up to some sarsaparilla and pomegranate notes and was much calmer.

While this is a large and robust pinot, RRV is tending that way.  I think there are two primary reasons for this:  Firstly, the global climate shift has changed weather patterns and made the area have more degree days than in previous years.  Secondly, the palate of the masses likes a bolder pinot, tending towards syrah.  This is similar to areas like the Santa Lucia Highlands, as well as the Santa Ynez Valley, made famous by Miles & Jack.  There is a lightness of raspberry and bright red fruit hiding under all of that chewy cherry, but it’s dampened by the bitter quinine finish.  The baking spices are strong, especially the clove notes which numb the tongue a touch.

This is certainly a candidate for decanting, as well as aeration, but could use some serious opening up time.

For $30, it’s averagely priced, but I’d like to see this about the $20 range.  At  14.9% AVB it’s also going to knock your socks off if you’re not careful!  If you can find it for less than retail, and you enjoy a larger pinot, you should TRY THIS!

 This wine was provided by Rodney Strong, paretn company of Davis Bynum, for consideration and sipping.  It’s been hiding in my cellar so it’s aged to perfection!

Breathe baby breathe!

We all know that I am not always the most patient person.  No, I don’t like to wait in line, wait for batch jobs to process, or (shocker here) wait for wine to open up.  While I do love the art of the decanter, if I’m saving a red for dinner, I don’t always want to wait for hours for a big cab to show her glory.

So here I sit, on a cold foggy San Francisco fall night, with a big cab.  But I want it now!  What is a wine blogger to do?  Why pull out her handy dandy aerator collection of course!

Tonight, I will be tasting the 07 Rodney Strong Rockaway first, straight from the bottle, and then with the Vinturi, the Soiree, the Rabbit, and then after decanting.

Right out of hte bottle, the wine is tight, and full of tannins and chewy leather.  once you run it through the Vinturi, it immediately softens up and shows more fruit, but is still very tight and shows licorice and dark meaty flavors.  The Vinturi claims that When wine is poured through the device, the internal mechanism “creates an increase in the wine’s velocity and a decrease in its pressure. This pressure difference draws in air which is mixed with wine for perfect aeration”.  I don’t know about THAT but it does force air in to the wine, speeding up the oxidation process, or opening the wine up.

Now, using the Wine Soiree, a bulbus device that you put on top of the wine bottle, and the wine flows all around it.   The Soiree fits on top of the bottle, and when you turn the bottle all the way upside down, the wine flows all around the sphere.  According to Soiree, the bottle top device is not just an aerator, but rather, a bottle top decanter.  I rather like this description because it really is more than an aerator.  First of all, you freak all your friends out when you pour the bottle upside down.

The Wine Soiree creates an “intermediary stage where the wine is infused with oxygen and then cascades into your glass”. In doing so, the subtleties are released, and you get more details out of the wine faster.

What I immediately notice with the soiree vs the Vinturi is that the wine is softer, and has more black and blue fruit coming out.  The tannins are softer, and the chewy licorice has lessened.  Even tasting the wine again, there is much more tightness and astringency left in that glass.

Finally, I used the Rabbit Aerating Pourer.  At first glance, it looks very similar to the

Soiree; it fits on top of the bottle and has a bulbous shape where the wine flows around.  It behaves in a similar way, but there was a touch of bitter coffee left in the wine.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it doesn’t quite capture the subtleties that the soiree does.

So, what’s the verdict?

Top Honors:  Wine Soiree, from $25, excellent gift sets available this season

Honorable Mention:  Rabbit Wine Aerator, $30

While the Vinturi is well known, and now available at Costco for less than the retail $40, my thoght is that you can upgrade your Soiree for the same price and be much happier.

Happy shopping!