December 21, 2005

Gifts for the grape-lovers on your list

Still don't know what to get your wine lover? Try one of these grape-ish gifts:

Montblanc corkscrew. Screwcaps may well be the closure of the 21st century, but wine lovers will still need a corkscrew for many more years. Why not make it a beautiful one, then? Montblanc's graceful wood-and-brushed metal version is as beautiful as it is easy to use, with a sharp knife to remove capsules and a curved shank that makes it fit comfortably in the hand. $260; 800-995-4810.

Magnetic Poetry's Wine Lover Kit. At a loss of words when it comes to wine? Not with Magnetic Poetry's Wine Lover Kit. With 240 words, you'll be patching together tasting notes in no time. Add the Food Lover Kit - another 240 words - and Robert Parker, watch out. Each kit is $9.95 at magneticpoetry.com or 800-370-7697.

Grateful Palate glass pig wine stopper. If there's anything edible that's as great a gift to mankind as wine, it'd have to be bacon. Like wine, it makes nearly everything better. The Grateful Palate's glass pig wine stopper combines the two for $12.95. And you can add some artisanal American bacon to your order while you're checking out the website, gratefulpalate.com, or calling 1-888-472-5283. Vegetarians and those who abstain from pork might prefer to direct their attentions to the coffee selections, which have been blended by famous winemakers.

BuiltNY wine carriers. Sleek, colorful and form-fitting, BuiltNY's wine carriers are wine-bottle couture. The best part, however, is not that they are available in colors to match every outfit, hot pink included, but that these neoprene bags seem to be indestructible and buffer bottles from clanging against each other, as during rough rides in the trunk of a car. A two-bottle bag is $18 at builtny.com

Wine Puzzle Racks. Finding room for more bottles of wine in a cellarless house can often be like piecing together a puzzle - how many will fit under thesink if you line them up just so? Designer Gideon Dagan has come up with a new approach to the wine-storage problem with his Wine Puzzle Racks. The translucent, tinted racks come in puzzle-piece shapes that interlock in endless configurations. Be warned, however: The shelves are so fun to arrange that they inspire ever-larger wine collections. $60 per nine-bottle rack at the MoMA Design Store, momastore.org or by calling 800-447-6662.

"Untrodden Grapes." There's a slew of great new wine books on the market this season, from solid references every library should have (the new edition of Mr. Boston's, for instance, which is to drinks what "The Joy of Cooking" is to food) to single-subject treatises specialists will want (like the long-awaited updated version of John Livingstone-Learmonth's "Wines of the Northern Rhône"). But if there is one title that will satisfy the geeks and catch the attention of the barely interested - and stop anyone passing by the coffee table in his tracks - it's Ralph Steadman's "Untrodden Grapes." Brash and powerful, Steadman's illustrations paint the wine world in vivid strokes, sometimes hilariously, other times capturing moments of quiet grace. The text around the images echoes the feelings of the pictures: that the images he's caught on paper are fleeting in real life, and if we don't pay attention, they may disappear. $35; Harcourt Books, 2005.

This article first appeared in the Denver Post.

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