Bottle Service: The Perfect Gift

As far as gifts for wine lovers go, there are plenty of options for wine paraphernalia. Can you believe that in 1975 there were 519 wineries in the United States and that last year there were 7,762? Twenty five percent of adults now choose wine as their preferred alcoholic beverage. Americans drink about 2 ½ gallons of wine each year per capita. (And that's per person, adults only; if we add college students, I'm sure our averages would go up.) But for the record, we’re serious underachievers. The French drink 15 gallons per person each year, and the Italians, 13.

More wine lovers and more wineries mean more demand for wine gifts. Here are the accessories every wine collector needs:

A great corkscrew is essential. Rabbits are fantastic, but you can also get a beautiful, handcrafted corkscrew with a bone handle. Le Thiers is my favorite, but there are other great options as well.

Every wine aficionado needs a decanter. Whatever you get, make sure it is clear glass, not colored or cut. Riedel is a great choice, but antique decanters with silver tops are lovely. They’re all over the web.

Next, get your wine lover a funnel. They are available in two varieties — antique and new — and I'm sure you know which one is more expensive. Everyone leaves cork in the bottle at one time or another, and the funnel and decanter easily solve this problem. Old wines and port also require a funnel and decanter to remove sediment.

Appropriate glassware is a must. Two or three manufacturers make glasses for each type of wine. Start with Bordeaux/cabernet glasses, then chardonnay and Champagne glasses. There are also specific glasses for Burgundy/pinot noir, port, dessert wine and others. Go hog wild. They’ll last forever. Prices range from $7-75 per stem. Riedel is my favorite.

One accessory I love is a wine bag. They come in all sizes. The best ones are leather and made by Mulholland Brothers, but any bag is useful to the wine geek. Gumps also has a great selection.

Other gift items include gas for preserving wine after you open it, Champagne stoppers that keep in the fizz, cheesecloth for filtering finer sediment and cork, wine tags to identify whose wine is whose at a party and ice sleeves to cool wine quickly.

If you want to give wine, don’t — unless you know specifically what your collector wants. A safe wine gift is Champagne. It’s always usable and welcomed, and it comes in all price ranges.

If you want to get really creative, give a wine tasting or a wine trip. Most local restaurants will set a tasting up for you, and — of course — there are hundreds of specific wine tours to every wine region in the world.

Finally, since wine should be kept at 50-55 degrees and 80-90 percent humidity, you may want to consider a wine cooler. They start at a 50-bottle capacity and go up to 300. If your wine gift recipient travels, build them a wine cellar while they’re out of town.