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Last-Minute Gifts for Wine Lovers


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

You’ve barely got any time left to buy gifts, but fear not, for here is a quick and easy guide for what the libation-lover on your Christmas list no doubt needs.

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My Drunken Kitchen by Helen Graves: Red-eyed and ravenous, the London-based food blogger’s third book takes you on a journey of tipsy cooking, showcasing recipes perfect for an after-bar, late-night pig-out. Try the Potato Chip Omelet; Pimped Rosemary, Chili, and Feta Fries; and, of course, the Bacon Sandwich, a limey classic with just bread, butter, and bacon. Even stone-cold sober readers will get the witty humor. (Dog ’n’ Bone, $15.95)

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The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt, Bourbon & Rye Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson: Helping you make the educated choice between a peaty Islay malt (that’s pronounced "eye-la," not like the Santa Barbara street) and a good ole American sour mash, this covers the history, production, and geography of the world’s finest whiskies, with some cocktail tips, too. You’ll be a few drams in before you finish this tome, which is perfect for the whiskey-savvy and neophyte alike. (Ryland, Peters & Small, $27.95)

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Beer and Food by Mark Dredge: Perfect for that hops-head you know, this is as easy to read as pulling a pint of ale, covering everything from the world’s finest craft brews to the sciencey side of beer tasting. It leaves no mug unturned in matching all sorts of beers with different nosh, so if it doesn’t cure your Pacifico and pizza habit, there is no hope. (Dog ’n’ Bone, $24.95)

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Coravin: This may be the wine gadget of the century and a must for anyone, even amateur wine buffs. Push the surgical needle through the cork (doesn’t work with synthetic), pull the trigger, and an inert gas from the supplied cylinder begins to fill the bottle, pushing a slow stream of wine back out the spout. The gas preserves the wine inside, as if the bottle were never opened. Even experts can’t tell which bottles have been “Coravined.” (Coravin.com; $299)

Helicium Stemware: If you are stuck between getting that vino-friend of yours a set of wine glasses or a wine decanter, why not settle for both? Helicium is a newly designed concept, where ridges within the bowl of the glass help aerate the wine whilst swirling. It immediately opens the most closed of wines and is perfect for new vintages and bigger styles. (heliciumglass.com; $60-$84)

Code38: Those needing a classic corkscrew should opt for France’s Château Laguiole (prices range from $90 to $300), but modern-minded wine pals are better suited for the Code38. Designed in Australia, and much like Aussie shiraz to French syrah, this corkscrew is the polar opposite of its Old World counterpart. Ergonomically designed, the best feature has to be the corkscrew itself: a helix perfectly designed to displace the least amount of cork, which is great for those fragile corks of older vintages. (code38.com; $295-$525)

Santa Barbara Wine Country Discounts: If you’re still stuck, loads of Santa Barbara County wineries are still offering holiday deals, everything from free shipping to gift packs to wine-club discounts. See sbcountywines.com/holiday-hours.html.

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