Melissa L. Smith
Top Wine Gifts for 2021
Skip the tchotchkes, the cork containers (do we really need a reminder of all of the bottles we've consumed?), and the gimmicky aerators, and go for sommelier tested high quality products, incredible reads, and three versions of glass that I'm obsessed with.
These are popping up in top wineries on the West Coast, and I am obsessed. Slightly more sturdy than Zaltos, and about half the price. These are an absolute pleasure to drink from, and all purpose. To really put this to the test I served four wines out of them at a recent dinner at home, starting with Champagne, a Late Harvest Chardonnay to go with seared Foie Gras, and a library Cab and then a younger but incredible Bordeaux Blend. All showed fantastically well and the glasses are gorgeous.
The pleasure one derives from pouring from this extravagant decanter is worth the price tag. It adds two feet to your reach, meaning you can pour for your guests across a dining table. By far one of the most impressive tools that I've ever used, and the one at the top of my Christmas list.
Blown glass sculptures on driftwood. I was inspired to make these after growing up regularly visiting the beaches of Northern California, and my fascination with glass blowing. Truly one of a kind.
An annual favorite. These allow you to enjoy as little or as much of your wine without opening the bottle. Also a great way to make sure that your wine isn’t off before you bring it to a restaurant for corkage.
I’ve been using these for over a decade, and they are the only closure that I’ve used that not only retains the carbonation, but allows you to put the bottles on their sides. Having led many Champagne, Cava, and other sparkling wine seminars, I depend on these to keep the wines fresh long enough to share with friends and tasting groups.
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Every wine enthusiast needs to read this book. The history in its pages will forever affect how you think about and respect wine. A perfect book to read by the fire with a glass of wine in hand.
Perfectly Paired: The Love Affair Behind Silver Oak
Bonny Meyers tells one of the most romantic stories in this autobiography that winds in the origins and history of Silver Oak, the loss of her beloved husband and industry legend Justin Meyer, and her life post letting go of both.
While I only encourage the safest practices when it comes to this particular method for opening Champagne, this saber is a fantastic tool that I’ve personally gifted to my closest friends, witnessing a perfect opening the first time, every time. (Always wear your best sunglasses when sabering).
I put off purchasing one of these for years, preferring the traditional wine key, but as I’ve come into more and more wines older than myself, I’ve needed something with a little more finesse to extract the delicate corks. The first time I used it...wow. Definitely a necessity when opening library wines. You insert the worm all of the way inside of the cork until the base hits the top, and then put the oso portion gently onto the sides of the cork before extracting both with the cork intact.
Smith Haut Lafitte has a line of skin care that is derived from the same grapes that are used in their legendary wines. (Bucketlist experience would be to visit their spa in Bordeaux). My personal favorite is their hand cream, the only one that I’ve used that smells extraordinary (anyone that knows me professionally knows that I have no tolerance for heavy scents) and works to moisturize my very sensitive skin. Considering we're all still using copious amounts of sanitizer, everyone could use a tube of this in their stocking.