The gift of wine

Thanksgiving is over and no one punched Uncle Harry.

You survived or avoided Black Friday. It’s time to take a deep breath and get ready for the gift-giving and holiday-party season.

One of many discoveries from eight years of writing a wine column is readers are always asking me about my favorite wine, or how I save open wine, and many other basic questions. So today I’m offering gift-giving ideas based on a few of my favorite things.

Riedel stemware

Many experienced wine drinkers will scoff at the difference between wine glasses until they do a side-by-side taste comparison. I know, I was one of those people.

Riedel glassware is the gold standard for wine glasses. The company has no competitors. The company is being managed by the 11th generation of the Riedel family with 300 years of Austrian glass-making experience.

Riedel introduced the concept that the shape of the glass can profoundly change the taste of the wine. It works. There are no words a writer can choose to convince a skeptic. Do the taste test with same wine, different glasses and one Riedel varietal-specific glass. The taster will then reach for their credit card.

Riedel manufactures wine glasses at very affordable to ridiculous price points. I recommend the Vinum series. Riedel also offers a Tasting series of three different glasses for three different wines. The glasses mentioned run $30 to $40 a glass. But again, they make less expensive selections to much-more expensive glassware, hand-blown from the original Austrian factory. A good houseware store will have Riedel collections for $20 to $50. But if your wine drinker is a geek, they need the varietal-specific glasses.

Savino wine storage

How to keep that half bottle of left-over wine? What is left-over wine? Okay, we all face that challenge. You can buy the pump, re-cork and a zillion other ideas. The best thing I’ve found is the Savino. It’s a glass container big enough to hold one bottle of wine. The secret is a cylinder which floats atop the saved wine 1/100th smaller than the inner circumference of the bottle. A lid seals the Savino shut. The Savino doesn’t work quite as long as the company suggests. But it keeps wine several days longer than any other system.

The original glass Savino can be found in stores and online for $59.99. This year the company smartly introduced a plastic version for $29.99. Nothing keeps your wine tasting like the original sip better than the Savino.

Pinot Noir

OK, for years I’ve always said I like them all and I do. But if I’m honest, Pinot is my favorite varietal. Pinot makes a great gift for a wine-drinking friend or to take to a party. Great Pinot starts at $20 to $30 a bottle. But if you want something easier, buy a Mark West or Mirassou Pinot at the market for under $10.

A great bottle of introductory-level Oregon Pinot Noir can be nabbed for $25 to $30. Personally, the best under-$30 bottle of wine, any varietal, I’ve ever found is Lange Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It’s widely distributed in Indiana and the rest of the Midwest. A great buy.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes about wine every other week for more than 20 newspapers. Contact Hewitt at hewitthoward@gmail.com.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.