Toys for Tipplers 

Be good to the connoisseurs in your life this holiday season.

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During the holidays, those of us who imbibe tend to tipple a bit more than usual. It’s all part of the festive nature of the season. So for the fine wine, Scotch, beer, or anything-with-alcohol drinker, it’s the perfect occasion to select a special gift to enhance their libationary routines. Here are a few items I wouldn’t mind finding under my Christmas tree (or behind the bar) this year.

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At Williams-Sonoma (Williams-Sonoma.com), you can pick up a monogrammed stainless steel 23-ounce cocktail shaker for $32. It’s an attractive, classic, perfectly functional cocktail maker and the initials of your favorite boozer'GWB, for example'will be etched right into the steel. But if you really want to impress the martini maven in your life, here’s another option: At Asprey.com, you can pick up a silver martini shaker from Asprey of London called the Thirst Extinguisher Cocktail Shaker. It’s crafted to look like the nozzle from an antique 1930s fire hose, is made of silver and will set you back a mere $7,300 if you care to get hosed.

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For a tenth of the price of the Asprey cocktail shaker, here’s a gift from Santa that would have me doing back flips at Xmas: Over at the 3rd & 3rd State Wine Store, locked up in a glass cabinet at the back, there’s a beautifully packaged bottle of 1995 Roederer Cristal Rosé Champagne. It comes in a polished wood carrier with leather clasps and would be a lovely remembrance of the time you received a $740 bottle of bubbly as a gift. Or course, you’ll need to place to chill your Cristal. One of the smartest purchases I made this past year was buying a Haier Thermal Electric Wine Cellar at Costco. It’s a sleek, stylish, modern 18-bottle lighted wine cooler in brushed metal with a glass door from the German Haier Group and, unlike many typical small-capacity wine coolers, it’s only 11 inches wide, which makes it perfect for cramped spaces. Best of all, the Haier only set me back $159.97.

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For you hands-on types, a fun way to learn about how to blend and taste wines is a kit created by Vic Bourassa of Bourassa Vineyards. It’s called the Napa Valley Wine Blending and Tasting Kit (available at WineBlending.com) and is based on Bourassa’s famous wine-blending seminars. All the information and necessary ingredients are included in the $69.95 wine blending kit, you just add the wine! Another fun way to get to know wines is via wine connoisseur Tamara Murphy’s Grape Geeks Vineyard Wine Game ($36 at UncommonGoods.com.). The 2-8 player board game tests your knowledge of wine with wine trivia questions and blind taste tests. The wine, however, is not included. Or, with the help of The Beer Nut (1200 S. State), you can become a winemaker without having to buy a vineyard or even leave home. The Beer Nut offers Limited Edition winemaking kits from Brew King (the makers of Selection Premium Wine Kits) at prices ranging from $104.95-$109.95. The Selection Limited Edition kits contain 16 liters of blended fresh and concentrated juices, easy instructions, and all the necessary ingredients to make 23 liters of wine at home. The Selection Limited Edition kits available at The Beer Nut are Chilean Maipo Valley Carmener/Cabernet Sauvignon, California Amador Country Petite Syrah/Zinfandel, Agrigento Sicilian Grillo, Italian Piedmont Nebbiolo d’Alba, and California Lake County Trio Bianca. For anyone who purchases all five wine kits, The Beer Nut will throw in a free “Make Wine, Jesus Did” T-shirt.

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At WineEnthusiast.com, you can pick up a pair of limited edition Riedel “O” Stemless pink wine and Champagne glasses ($21.95 for a set of two). A set of Riedel “O” glasses would be an especially nice holiday gift knowing that 15 percent of all proceeds made from these limited edition glasses will be donated to the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Foundation. The Wine Enthusiast also offers lots of cool apparel for the wine lover like a vintage chart tie ($29.95), Wine Bambino baby bibs (two for $24.95), a woman’s rhinestone “Wine Snob” T-shirt ($24.95), and a Vineyard Collection necklace & earring set ($79.95) of sterling silver and pearl grape clusters from California artist Mary Anne Davis.

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Want to really impress your favorite beer nut this holiday season? Why not set them up with a bottle of Samuel Adams “Utopias.” Topping out at a record-breaking 25.6 percent alcohol, Utopias is said to have a sweet flavor with hints of vanilla, oak and caramel. It comes in a collectors’ edition copper-finished bottle shaped like a brew kettle and, oh yeah, a single 24-ounce bottle will set you back $100.

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