A couple of weeks ago, we were driving along in the car, and my wife asked me what she should get me for Christmas. We have been together for who knows how many years, but she asks me this question every year. And every year I answer the same way:
“A bottle of wine.”
As soon as this comes out of my mouth, her response is immediate and consistent:
“Yeah, right! Like I am going to get you a bottle of wine.”
We both then laugh and I struggle to give her a bit of a list of ideas (I think this year I told her socks, a new bike helmet, and, well, some other stuff). A couple of days later I started to think about the question more broadly.
We have had people over to the house on countless occasions and many of them have stated that they would never bring wine over to our house due to my “attitude toward wine” (someone actually said that once–do I really have an “attitude toward wine”?). That always made me scratch my head and ponder a bigger question:
“What gift does one give a Wine Snob?”
Of course, I do not consider myself a Wine Snob, so I am exploring this topic for those out there who might know a Wine Snob and are a bit perplexed this time of year (no need to thank me for this public service).
As far as I am concerned, there are essentially three categories of gifts that you can give the Wine Snob:
There are countless wine accessories, but I will touch on a few.
Wine Glasses: Wine Geeks break wine glasses all the time. All the time. One can never have too many wine glasses, but one can have too many crappy wine glasses. Go by the old adage here: less is more.
Corkscrew: Wine Snobs are, by nature, collectors, and as such along with copious amounts of wine, they tend to collect corkscrews, too. Similar to wine glasses, though, Wine Snobs have a ton of horrible corkscrews, but good ones can be expensive. What is certain, is that the Wine Snob does not want one of those “butterfly” corkscrews (unless the Wine Snob is also a cycling Geek, in which case the Campagnolo butterfly corkscrew is über cool [and über expensive]). Stick to the waiter’s corkscrew and you should be fine.
Wine Stem Charms: Wine stem charms are a really cool idea and useful in theory. The problem? Any self respecting Wine Snob already has a ton of them. Adding to the problem is that the Snob is so focused on getting his drink on, that he completely forgets about using them. He/she rarely puts his glass down either, so there is really no need in the Snob’s mind to identify his glass since it’s the one glued to his hand.
Aerators: Another very cool idea, but also one that has certainly been addressed by any Wine Snob that is worth his sediment. Like the wine charms, the Snob is usually far too impatient to take the time to aerate the wine (I have a few aerators and can not remember the last time I used them, and I am not even a Snob).
Just like with just about any obsession, there are a bunch of gag gifts that are available for wine. “Gag” gifts are supposed to be funny, but who is the one laughing? The giver or the receiver? Well, if anyone is laughing (other than the merchant), it is the person giving the gift. The recipient tries to be gracious, but they are really thinking either “Huh?” or “What the heck is this?”
The first gag gift I ever got was from my sister. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube, but I could never solve the top level. My younger sister thought buying me a Rubik’s Cube Smasher (a huge plastic paddle) that I could use to beat the crap out of the cube was a great gift (ignore for the moment that she could have bought a book on how to solve the Cube for less money).
To this day, we have never let her forget about it.
There are several types of Gag Wine Gifts (for example, I have a pair of never worn, but super sweet polyester socks with a Santa drinking wine straight out of the bottle– very classy): aprons, t-shirts, hats with witty sayings (“Wine a Little”, “If Found Please Take to the Nearest Winery”, “Love the Wine You’re With”); Redneck Wine Glasses; and of course, the Wine Rack Flask Bra (I think there is a pun in there somewhere). Take it from me (I know a few Snobs), the Wine Snob really does not understand any of these “gifts”.
There is also the box/jug/Mad Dog 20/20 option. The problem with this? You will never be the first one that has given this “gift” to a Wine Snob. If you are, then he/she is not a true Wine Snob. Sorry, but it is true. Before becoming a bona fide Wine Snob, one needs to have received at least one box (preferably Franzia) and at least one jug (Carlo Rossi is quite popular).
It seems crazy to even mention this, but above all the other gifts, the Wine Snob in your life will LOVE getting a bottle of wine as a gift.
The wine could be corked. Oxidized. Just plain bad. But I promise you, the Wine Snob will be over the moon if you actually get him some wine. The Snob will not judge you about the quality of the wine. After all you didn’t make it yourself, did you? (If the answer to that is “yes” all bets are off.) Just try and remember that “Critters” on a label are usually a bad sign (with a few notable exceptions).
So in sum, the best gift you can ever give a Wine Snob is a bottle of wine. No need to feel intimidated, just grab a bottle. Really. Any old bottle will do–the Wine Snob loves to drink, evaluate, and ponder all vinous creations and you would be giving him more fodder.
There is one gift that is better than a bottle of wine, however.
A Magnum of wine.