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Vines & Vittles: Gift ideas for the oenophiles on your list

By John Brown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Depending on your budget, the sky is virtually the limit when it comes to finding a wine to give that special person. Today, I provide a list of some of my favorite cabernet sauvignons from the exceptional 2007 vintage. (Note to my friends: Please feel free to pass this along to my wife.)

First, here are some wine-related gift ideas, including a stocking stuffer or two, for the wine-stained person in your life.

Wine reference

I've noted it before, but the absolute best wine reference book is the "World Atlas of Wine" by Hugh Johnson. It is a compendium of everything you need to know about wine, including information on specific grapes, wines and regions, as well as label descriptions, and the culture and history of wine. Check for it at your local bookshop or online.

Wine buying clubs

Joining a wine buying club is a unique way to explore a variety of wines from around the world with the convenience of regular door-to-door shipping or shopping. There are clubs geared for a variety of wine lovers from beginners to collectors. Talk to your wine retailer about offerings they may have or go to: www.cawineclub.com/wine-of-the-month-club-links to find the best club and price for you.

Wine storage

Finding a place to store your special wine is always a challenge. One pretty neat option is the Wine Enthusiast Six-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator. This adjustable, temperature-controlled wine refrigerator is a great gift for those who don't have a lot of storage space, but want a reliable place to keep their special bottles. Check it out at www.wineenthusiast.com.

Glassware

The aesthetics of sipping wine in crystal is oftentimes a very expensive proposition. However, the good folks at Masterpiece Crystal in Jane Lew craft about the best reasonably priced wine vessels around. The hand-made lead free crystal glasses and carafes come in various shapes and sizes. Go to www.masterpiececrystal.com and check out these works of art or call 800-624-3114 to order direct from the factory.

Stocking stuffers

For the manual-dexterity-challenged wine drinkers in your life, you might slip a container of Wine Away in that Christmas stocking. Wine Away is a red wine stain remover that cleans up and clears out those stains that so often appear on your clothes or carpet when people like me are attempting to sip and speak at the same time. Shop for it locally or simply Google "Wine Away" and find it online for about $10.

I like to keep track of the truly special wines I have consumed. Label Off is one of the best ways to remove and collect those special wine labels. Label Off splits the printed surface of the paper from the adhesive backing leaving a laminated label to place into your wine catalog. $10.

Special wines

The 2007 vintage for cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley may go down as one of the best in decades. The wines are opulent, full-bodied, rich and balanced and should age well for years. They range in price from about $35 to $100 a bottle.

Caymus Special Selection; Joseph Phelps Insignia; Shafer Stags Leap; Newton Napa Valley; Clos Du Val; Vineyard 29; Franciscan Napa Valley; Anderson's Conn Valley; Robert Mondavi Napa Valley; Rudd Mount Veeder; Beaulieu Georges De Latour Private Reserve; and Cliff Lede Vineyards Stags Leap.

Happy Holidays!

For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines & Vittles blog at thegazz.com.


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