Gifts of the Grape 

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This year I bought myself a wonderful wine gift. After attending a party at my friend Virginia’s where she demonstrated the ease of using a “Rabbit” style corkscrew, I went out and treated myself to one.

Sort of. Actually, I decided not to spend the $50-$80 on an original Rabbit brand corkscrew, and instead bought a knock-off version at Costco for $11. It works great. This lever-mechanism corkscrew will remove a cork from a wine bottle and eject it intact from the worm in a matter of seconds. It’s completely idiot proof. And it even comes with a nifty little foil cutter gadget that effortlessly clips the metal foil from the top of your wine bottle. After years of swearing by the authenticity and tradition of classic corkscrews, I’m now a convert to the Rabbit. This would be a terrific holiday gift for the wine lover in your life, even if that happens to be you.

For your favorite traditionalist wine aficionado, a classic corkscrew would make a memorable holiday gift item, too. In particular, a handmade French corkscrew made by the 5-century-old Chateau Laguiole would be a very thoughtful and unique present. Laguiole makes a variety of corkscrews—mine happens to be made of gorgeous cherry wood and high-carbon stainless steel—that sell for around $100. Each one has a leather “holster” with a belt loop so that you and your corkscrew never need be far apart. The Wine Enthusiast online Website ( is a good source for Laguiole corkscrews.

If you know me, you’ve probably received a wine cork trivet as a holiday or birthday gift. It’s what I do with all those leftover wine corks. You can find kits for making wine cork trivets and bulletin boards (you supply the corks) at the aforementioned Wine Enthusiast Website, and also at International Wine Accessories ( With winemakers here and abroad turning in large numbers to plastic corks, these wine cork trivets and bulletin boards may soon become collector’s items!

An especially nice gift for any wine connoisseur—and one that most wouldn’t buy for themselves—is a wine decanter. A crystal decanter is the sort of thing you almost always get from someone else. Personally, I’ve been hoping for years that someone will hook me up with a swan/duck/dove style decanter for pouring those rare bottles of French Burgundy and Bordeaux that I wish I owned. Such decanters vary in price from about $40 for a nice Captain’s Decanter by Spiegelau to around $300 for a hand-blown Riedel Sommelier decanter.

A more practical gift for wine lovers would be a set of wine glasses from a quality stemware producer like Riedel, Spiegelau, or Schott-Zweisel. I’m a big fan of the Riedel Vinum series but I also like the everyday value and dependability of the virtually unbreakable Tritan stemware sold by The Wine Enthusiast.

Somewhere along the line, I received a gadget called a Vacu-vin as a gift. I doubt if a week has gone by since I was given my Vacu-vin that I haven’t put it to use. It’s a wine saver system that sells for $11-15, and will rescue you from pouring leftover wine down the drain because it’s become oxidized. The Vacu-vin system contains an easy-to-use hand pump that removes oxygen from partially filled wine bottles and rubber stoppers that provide a virtually airtight seal.

Of course, all wine lovers enjoy reading about wine, too. So a gift subscription to a wine publication like The Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate or Wine X magazine would be greatly cherished this holiday season. Then again, nothing quite beats a nice bottle of wine itself. I can guarantee that a bottle of Chateau Petrus from Santa will not go unnoticed.

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More by Ted Scheffler

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