Smart Woman Online


Gifts for the Wine Lover

December 3, 2007
By Monyka Berrocosa
Photography By Bryan Burris


The holidays mean parties and, of course, gift giving. What to get the wine lovers on your list? It’s a daunting question, especially when you don’t know as much as they do. You want to make an impact, you want your gift to be memorable … you want to give a grape gift that says “great.” Trouble is, you may not know your Cabernet from a Chardonnay. Yes, wine can be intimidating. So let me help.


Champagne is a no-brainer of a gift for a variety of reasons. First, most people get excited when presented with a bottle of the stuff (understandably — Champagne means class, a certain je ne sais quoi and fizzy festivity). There are many sizes of bottles, types and price points, so Champagne is more affordable than you might think. In short, Champagne is fun. It says, “I wanted to give you the best.” It beats your simple Shiraz hands down.

Some quick suggestions:

  • Kosher Champagne: Laurent-Perrier — starting around $38.
  • Small individual stocking stuffers: 275ml Piper Heidsieck & Pommery — both upward of $12 each, $40 for a pack.
  • Vintage & special bottlings: Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill; Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame —$90+.
  • Rare: Champagne Salon — $120+.


Wine lovers need more than just wine. Is there anything your wine lover lacks? What could you get him or her that says “wine” besides wine? Read on.

For the novice oenophile who wants to learn more:

Wine For Dummies
by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan

I love to suggest this book. It has hard facts and teaches them well, but it’s served in the popular, from-the-hip, to-the-point “Dummies” style. That makes it perfect for the beginner. It’s even a good refresher for the more seasoned sipper.


For the entertainer on your list:

S.W.I.L.L. wine-tasting kit — $24.99

This kit pretty much provides what an expert would give you — packed in a box so you and your friends can take a wine-tasting journey together. The kit comes with supplies for eight (extra supplies are available online for an extra cost) and is practically foolproof. This is a great gift for the person who wants to share a newfound passion for wine with friends. You can kick this up a notch by adding a gift certificate for your favorite wine shop.


For the sophisticated wine enthusiast, an annual subscription to:

Decanter Magazine — $90

Sure, there’s Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, as well as the Wine Advocate — written by Maryland’s own Robert Parker. However, the sophisticated wine enthusiast will appreciate the exotic nature of this British publication, which features the regular musings of Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson and Michael Broadbent (among others) — who happen to be some of the best wine writers in the world. An added bonus: You’ll get a heads-up about interesting wines and good buys not necessarily well-known here in the United States.


For the gadget lover, a wine cooler is a great gift. One terrific choice:

Vinotemp International 28-bottle Thermo Electric Wine Cooler — approximately $298 at Home Depot (price includes shipping) and other locations online.

Is a wine cooler/cellar a necessity? No. But when you want to splurge and give a gift that will impress, you can’t beat a compact wine cellar. This model, made by Vinotemp, is meant to be affordable, not high-end. It is high-end, though — a top-notch toy for the wine lover who has it all.


Going all out? Why not give the gift of a wine dinner or hold your own custom wine-tasting event with Chef’s Expressions?

Jerry Edwards loves to cook — understandable, as he’s one of Baltimore’s most acclaimed caterers. He also loves wine. With both skills, he produces outstanding wine dinners every month, usually at Gramercy Mansion. Jerry’s staff can also serve a wine dinner, complete with several courses and pairings, in the location of your choice — for a romantic special occasion or for a group.

Chef’s Expressions also offers a nifty service called Wine Express. A professional wine tasting can be brought to your home, business or wherever you choose. It comes complete with proper glassware, informative expert and fun. For more information, call Chef’s Expressions at 410-561-2433 or visit

MONYKA BERROCOSA, a wine educator, journalist and author, is the owner of Grape Ventures LLC, a Baltimore consulting firm that produces The Women’s Wine & Dine, which supports local charities. Visit Monyka can be reached at