Being surrounded by wine country, most of us in Santa Barbara know someone who only wants wine and wine paraphernalia for Christmas. To help you make that person smile this season, we asked Bob Wesley of The Winehound (1221 Chapala St.) and David Cable of East Beach Wine in La Arcada Court (1114 State St., Ste. 24) for some gift advice, and then threw in a few special selections of our own.
Mr. Picky Moderation Wine Glass: Be smarter about your wine consumption in this Riedel-made glass that indicates pours of four, six, and eight ounces. Already lauded by doctors and dietitians alike, it’s brought to us by Mr. Picky, the Santa Barbara wine country character whose awesome iPhone apps guide us to our county’s best tasting rooms, as well as those in Paso Robles, Ventura County, and Temecula. See mr-picky.com. $14.95 —MK
Decantus To-Go Aerator: Like your wine tastier? Use an aerator, and this one works on-the-go, with a light plastic stand and black cloth storage pouch. $35.99 —DC
Wine Bottle Holiday Gift Tube: Give your next bottle in one of these fun and festive tubes, which are made with knitted fabric and felt. Available in snowman or penguin. $13.99 —DC
The Corkcicle: A perfect way to chill white wines or cool down red wines when room temperature is too warm. Requires no messy ice, causes no condensation, and is reusable. $22.99 —DC
Wine Box Serving Trays: These one-of-a-kind wood serving trays are made from original wooden wine box lids and varnished to be long-lasting. $29.99-$39.99 —DC
Bordeaux Grand Cru Wall Clock: This beautiful battery-operated wall clock is perfect for the home wine cellar, and it’s made from the end panel of an original wooden wine crate. $39.99 —DC
Fort Ross 2009 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast: If oak is evil, then this wine is destined for an eternity in hell. It can stand toe-to-toe with chardonnays costing twice as much. $30.99 —BW
Tyler 2009 Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard Block Five: Burgundian specialist Justin Willet expertly captures the meteorological benevolence of the 2009 pinot harvest in this bottling, a perennial, personal favorite of mine. $45.99 —BW
Château Grand Piquey 2007 Sauternes: This bargain-priced Sauternes flaunts plenty of slickly textured ripe fig, tropical fruit, and vanilla, all of which swirl in an endless replay on the palate. Half bottles, $18.99; full bottles, $32.99 —BW
Vranken Brut Champagne Diamant: This comes in a cut-glass bottle for an impressive presentation, and the aromas and textures are very toasty but very precise; rich hazelnut and zingy citrus/apple seem to fight for effervescent supremacy — brisk and creamy all at once. $56.99 —BW
Books to Buy
Every year, a dozen or so books about the wine industry hit shelves (and, increasingly, digital readers), but only a few really rise above the rest. Here are the three that caught our attention in 2011:
• Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines by Natalie MacLean (Perigee Trade; $24): Who doesn’t want to find affordable but amazing wines in today’s economy? For the past decade, MacLean, the author of Red, White, and Drunk All Over, has been globetrotting and hobnobbing with winemakers from South Africa and Germany to Niagara and Adelaide, and this is her confessionally cheapskate report.
• Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists by Mike Veseth (Rowman & Littlefield; $25): Globalization, corporatization, and terroir-ization of the fermented grape juice industry are all uncovered in this unveiling of the dark business side of winemaking by the market-minded yet engaging writer behind WineEconomist.com.
• Drops of God, Volume One: Les Gouttes de Dieu by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical; $15): Maybe the most effective marketing-as-media thing to hit the wine world since Sideways, this manga-style comic about brothers fighting with their palates and other weapons to inherit their wine-critic father’s impressive bottle collection has been turning Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese folks onto real-world wines since 2004. This year marks the first-ever release of a volume in English, so it’s about time we got in on the fun.