WINE AND MORE
What better way to spread holiday cheer than with wine-related gifts for the oenophiles in your life? Whether you're buying for a casual sipper or a hard-core aficionado, there are plenty of budget-friendly options. Here are 10 favorite wine accessories (and a few wines) priced below $25.
WOOD-TONE BOTTLE TAGS
Anyone who has accidentally opened the pricey cabernet reserved for a special occasion on spaghetti night will surely appreciate a set of heavy-duty paper hangtags ($15 for a pack of 100 at Wine Enthusiast). Writing identifying information on the tag -- wine type, vintage, winery, etc. -- distinguishes which bottle is which at a glance. They're available in dark walnut or mahogany wood tones, and reviewers appreciate how nicely they blend with a wine rack compared with white plastic tags.
PERSONALIZED WINE TUMBLERS
There's always someone who always spills a glass of wine. Here's a solution for that someone, as long as he or she doesn't take wine consumption too seriously. Like adult sippy cups, lidded plastic wine tumblers prevent drips and dribbles at parties, not to mention breakage. They're available from a variety of vendors in a variety of designs, such as a $13 monogrammed version from Etsy seller The Crafty Engineer. These tumblers can be personalized to the buyer's specifications.
STEMLESS AERATING WINE GLASSES
Reviewers who have tried stemless aerating wine glasses from Uncommon Goods ($20 for a set of four) overwhelmingly praise the cut-crystal look and the way they help wines "breathe." Wine drinkers like the feel of these glasses in the hand -- neither too fat nor too delicate -- and appreciate that they're dishwasher-safe. Wrap up and present to a loved one, or stock up for holiday celebrations. There are never too many wine glasses.
WINE GLASS WRITER METALLIC PENS
Wine charms are a fun way to keep glasses sorted at parties. But what happens when the guests outnumber the charms or forget which symbol is theirs? Metallic pens ($15 from Wine Enthusiast) cut right to the chase, allowing imbibers to write their name directly on the glass or embellish with an artistic flourish. Once the festivities are over, the marker washes off easily in the dishwasher or with soap and water. (Reviewers note that the ink takes a few minutes to set.)
Placing a couple of stainless-steel orbs in a glass, like ice cubes, brings white wine down to drinking temperature quickly, without chilling. Sleek and sophisticated, these conversation starters can be stored in the freezer, ready at a moment's notice. Reviewers say the wine pearls ($25 for a set of four from Uncommon Goods) are easy to clean and use; 95 percent would recommend them to a friend.
LE CREUSET WINE OPENER
Lots of folks wrestle to open a bottle of vino without breaking the cork. This may be the season to present a utensil upgrade. A self-pulling corkscrew from Le Creuset ($20 on Amazon) makes quick work of cork extraction without the use of push-down arms. A vast majority of reviewers laud the simple, effective design.
Opt for form and function with cork coasters, which lend a wine cellar vibe to the home of a connoisseur while protecting the furniture. Etsy shoppers rave about a $7 set of two coasters by Corkey Creations. Over at Wine Enthusiast, commenters are enthusiastic about a $20 wood-frame kit that lets DIY types make a set of four coasters at home with corks already on hand.
WINE2GO FOLDABLE WINE BOTTLE
Some activities just don't lend themselves to glass bottles and corkscrews. Whether your loved one enjoys camping, tailgating, or hiking with friends, a foldable wine bottle can resolve the dilemma. Made from BPA-free plastic with a screw-on lid, the Wine2Go pouch (less than $12 on Amazon) holds a full 750 ml bottle of wine. It's washable, reusable, and folds flat when empty. Reviewers give it a thumbs-up for not spilling or leaking, even when hanging upside down.
WINE WARS TRIVIA GAME
Give a wine geek the chance to show off their knowledge or liven up a party while learning more about wine. A portable trivia game ($20 at Uncommon Goods) features categories such as "Vine to Vino," "Wine Cellar," and "Cork Culture." Reviewers comment that the game has a good mix of easy and difficult questions. Uncomplicated game play makes it suitable for social gatherings or quizzing a partner while dinner is cooking.
A set of four 12-ounce glasses from Refresh Glass is an elegant and eco-friendly homage to the bottle. These hand-crafted drinking glasses are made from recycled wine bottles and vary in price depending on the color. The starting price is $24 for a set of amber glasses, and opting for a mix of colors nudges the total to $26 (just $1 over our limit).
SELECT BUDGET WINES
There's no shortage of good wines costing less than $10 a bottle. Open the wallet a little wider, to less than $15, and add Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon, Loosen Bros. Dr. L Mosel Riesling, or La Marca Prosecco to the shopping list. These three bottles earn top marks from Wine Spectator.