The Wine Guy - Greg Walter

Great gifts for wine lovers

It’s that time of year when on top of all of the other gift buying challenges you face, you’ve got someone on your gift list who loves wine. What the heck do you give him or her?

I’ve put together a list of several items that I think make great gifts for the wine love in your life (or for yourself!). These are mostly useful gifts — not fancy, expensive things.

1. Glassware: Good wine really does benefit from good glassware. Glassware is a very personal choice and I would really not try to buy it for someone with one exception. I find that the stemless glasses like the Riedel “O” wine tumbler series and others like them are really useful and make a great gift. I would not use them for a dinner party, but I have to say that there is almost no better wine glass for someone who travels a lot and like to bring wine along to the cabin or hotel. The Riedel versions are available in white (smaller) and red (larger) versions and come in a convenient box that’s easy to pack.

2. Decanter: If you or the wine lover on your list is a red wine lover, then a good decanter is a great gift. Red wines need air to open up and deliver the maximum in terms of aromas and flavor. I always recommend opening a bottle of red wine and letting it sit for at least an hour before you want to drink it. Most of us drink immediately after opening the bottle. You can short cut that hour by decanting (pouring) the wine into a decanter, thus allowing the wine to come into contact with air as you splash it into the decanter. As with glassware, these are personal, but you don’t need to go fancy or expensive here.

3. CellarTracker: This is a great service that allows you to track you wine cellar and interact with a huge community of like-minded wine lovers. CellarTracker also allows you to seamlessly access reviews of wines in your cellar not only from top wine reviewers (my newsletter PinotReport is one), but also peer reviews from across the CellarTracker community. Signing up and basic access is free, go to for more information.

4. Wine Check: This is a really cool gift idea if you travel with wine or buy wine on your travels. The “Wine Check,” is a collapsible, secure, padded case with wheels that fits around a standard wine shipper box and converts it into a piece of luggage. It’s a safe economical way to transport up to one case (12 bottles) of wine while staying under the 50-pound airline weight limit for luggage. Get more information at

And finally, if nothing else will satisfy your wine loving friend or family member and he or she loves Pinot Noir, there’s nothing better than a subscription to my newsletter, PinotReport (OK that was a shameless plug, sorry).

As always, you can email me with questions at

Greg Walter, a Sonoma resident for more than 20 years, has been in wine and food publishing for more than 30 years, 15 of which were spent as a senior editor and later president of Wine Spectator magazine. Today he writes the PinotReport newsletter ( and publishes books through his Carneros Press imprint (

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