One of the easy things to give is the gift of spirits. This is especially true if you grab a bottle of something that you know hits the profile of your friend or even better is a special bottle, they might not have purchased for themselves. Personally, I love to indulge in the bottle I shared with a friend, to create a memory around the gift as well, but this doesn’t always work out. All of this works great if you know someone well, but what do you do for a business associate?
There are plenty of special gifts that you can grab for a business friend that represents how you value the relationship and probably isn’t something they would get for themselves. To be fair, these items are wine related, so it is a limited list, but worth considering anyway.
Glasses – No one has enough proper wine glasses and I have
begrudgingly come around to believe that the right glass makes a difference in
how the wine tastes. Some of the better makers include Riedel, Zalto,
Schott and Spiegelau. Now to be fair, these will set you back a few sacks
of gold, so you are probably only getting a set of 4, unless you really want to
The other move on glasses is to go to a good basic version
of glass and get a dozen for your friend. No one ever has enough wine
glasses, so it is usually appreciated.
The final idea is to buy something a bit unusual in a good
quality, like champagne flutes, bourbon glasses or an American pinot noir
I have to admit, my own collection has a basic but
good set of red wine glasses, white wine glasses and some champagne flutes.
Decanter – When I get asked if a wine needs to be
decanted, I always answer the same, “Couldn’t hurt, might help”. Wines almost always benefit from a little air and it rarely hurts the wine or the experience.
But most people have somewhere between one and zero decanters, so it
makes a great gift.
There are two ways to go, low and high. A basic serviceable decanter can be had on
Amazon for between $25 and $50. No need for a stopper either; the whole idea is to get some air into the wine and I’ve used a glass pitcher in a pinch so it really doesn’t need to be fancy.
Don’t go for the fancy cleaning brushes for a decanter. I just clean mine with a few good swirls of hot water and I let it drain. You never, ever want to put soap in a decanter and a brush tempts one to do so.
Another pro tip is to avoid those funky aerators, they are pretty gimmicky and between the pour from the bottle, a little time in a decanter and perhaps a little swirling in the glass, the wine gets plenty of air.
If you want to go high end on a decanter, the sky is the limit for spending. Long necked elegant glasswork doesn’t particularly open the wine to air better than something more
basic, but the pouring experience from the decanter can be pretty cool. The forms are really only limited by the creativity of the glassblower. I try to avoid forms that have skinny, hard to clean features, but outside of that, it is a chance for a “Wow” gift. But more
often than not these items end up collecting dust on a shelf too.
High-End Corkscrew – A great corkscrew is always a decent gift and I find myself losing mine all the time, or perhaps leaving them at a friend’s home after a bottle or two.
Sommeliers swear by their particular corkscrew, but I like a simple waiter’s screw with a double hinge so I can get two pulls on the cork. This is particularly useful for some European corks, which tend to be longer.
Inexpensive versions include HiCoup, OXO or True. They aren’t too expensive, so you could grab a few and stock up your friend or couple it with a bottle of wine (not a screwcap).
If you want to go for artwork that can also be used to open bottles of wine, look to the favorites of high-end sommeliers. A Coutale, Laguiole or a Kershaw are designed
to last a lifetime and thousands of bottles of service. They will set you back a few hundred, but they are a great gift for a wine lover. The only issue with these elegant screws is the tears you will shed if they are confiscated at airport security.
When gifting a corkscrew, don’t go for the double lever version or the single lever rabbit style screws as they can be easy but don’t work as well on certain kinds of corks.
I also find they offend my minimalist sensibilities – it’s a lot of hardware to open a bottle of wine.
For me the ultimate corkscrew, and one that is specially designed for older corks, is the Durand. It combines a well-made corkscrew with an Ah So opener which is designed to slide two thin pieces of metal along the cork and coax it out without breaking. I have used mine on some ancient corks and gotten them out without damage.
Coravin – A recent development in the wine industry is a device that inserts a high bore diameter needle from the medical industry through the cork of an unopened bottle and allows you to withdraw a single serving, replacing the wine with inert Argon gas. This is a great way to grab a single glass of special wine without opening the whole bottle and having to drink it over the next few days. It’s especially good for couples where one
does have a glass of wine every so often and the other abstains.
Wine Education – Who doesn’t like to get smarter? Wine education is a phenomenal
gift for someone at any stage of their wine life. I have a local wine school that offers classes appropriate for a complete novice up to a national expert. The best part is they do tastings as they educate. Drinking wine and learning is pretty hard to beat, and your friend will always have your gift with them! If you don’t know where to start, look for a school that offers classes from Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), an internationally recognized wine program.
Wine Book – If you don’t want to plunk down the investment for wine education, a good wine book is a great alternative. They generally fall into two categories, coffee table books or ones that are more educationally focused. A few of my favorites:
- “The World Atlas of Wine”, by Hugh Johnson
- “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course”, Kevin Zraly
- “Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine”, Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
- “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”, Benjamin Wallace
- “Cocktail Construction”, George Watts
And if you don’t like any of these, grab a great bottle from your cellar or the local wine shop. It always fits.