Wondering about holiday gifts for your favorite drinks fan? Here’s a list of things he or she probably doesn’t have already. Keep in mind that I haven’t tried them, but they seem pretty clever.
Save your ’stache
Guys (girls, too, if it applies), don’t you just hate it when you take a big gulp of beer and fill your mustache with foam, making you look like one of those “Got Milk?” commercials? Or your glass of wine stains your lip whiskers red?
Well, help is at hand, in the form of a $20 Whisker Dam. It’s a curved bar that clips onto the top of your glass of beer, wine or spirits and blocks the foam or color from your pretty upper-lip fuzz. It’s made of copper, with a nice patina, and it comes in an embossed leather pouch. No more soggy ’staches.
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Hard cider glass
As you know, you can buy a different shaped glass for dozens of wine varieties, designed to maximize their flavors. Well, now that hard cider is trending, it’s inevitable that somebody would offer a specially designed glass for that.
Angry Orchard has done just that. Its design sounds worthy of a rocket ship: rounded bowl to collect the cider’s fruity aromas, a narrow chimney to deliver them to the palate, a lip designed to place it at just the right spot on your tongue and a “nucleation seed,” or small etching, at the bottom of the glass to help form extra bubbles.
So now we’ll have cider snobs.
You can buy a two-pack of glasses, complete with scientific explanation, for $14.95. Go to angryorchard.com and click on “E-STORE.”
Oak wine bottles
Making your own wine or seeking to improve cheap wines you’ve purchased? Don’t shell out for an expensive, bulky standard 59-gallon oak barrel. Just send for a regular-sized wine bottle made of oak. Due to the increased oak-to-wine surface, you can add oak flavor to your wine in 24 to 48 hours, says the Oak Bottle company’s website. Drink the wine, rinse the oak bottle and reuse it up to 50 times.
A standard oak bottle is $79.95; oak bottles flavored with chocolate, cinnamon, citrus or a dozen other flavors are $10 more. Check it out at oakbottle.com.
Ever taste a glass of Chateau Petrus and say to yourself, “I wish I could make that at home”? Well, you can’t. But you can make your own real grape wine with the Master Vintner Wine Making Starter Kit for $129.99. The company will send you a 6.5-gallon primary fermenter, auto siphon racking cane, hydrometer, bottle filler, corking tool — 17 pieces in all plus an instructional DVD. For an additional $18 to $25 it also will send you wine ingredients including enough grape concentrate for 2.5 gallons of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, even champagne.
See it at mastervintner.com. A tip from my personal experience: Don’t tell your wife you’re doing it in her kitchen.
If you’re so into luxury that you want a beer bottle opener that’s more like a piece of art, check out these trendy models. The Discommon Goods company’s description: “Tactile and ergonomic, the body is painstakingly machined from aerospace aluminum, hand finished and hard anodized for a lifetime of use.” There are three styles — the Gotham Black and Satin Champagne at $140 each, and the Damascus Steel Coin opener at $230. Gee, I hope this doesn’t take crucial materials from NASA’s Mars program. See discommon.com.
Wine label saver
You’d love to save the label of that special bottle of wine you drank, but you learn that wineries fearful of counterfeiting are using glues that are nearly impossible to get loose. Try the Label Saver Kit of 10 plastic laminate sheets with extra strong adhesive; you press them onto the label, then peel back to remove the front artwork on the label, leaving the back still on the bottle. They’re $12.95 for a set of 10 in the Wine Enthusiastic magazine catalog at wineenthusiast.com.
Did you ever deftly open a bottle of wine with a corkscrew and then embarrass yourself because you couldn’t get the cork off the screw? Try Le Creuset Waiter’s Corkscrew. At $35, its screw has a nonstick coating. Phew. Another tragedy averted. Go to IWAwine.com and click on “Accessories.”
Fred Tasker: email@example.com
Find the wine
I get occasional emails from readers complaining they can’t find a wine I’ve written about in my column. First, my apologies. Second, here’s what to do. Ask your wine merchant to find it for you. This doesn’t always work. Next, Google the wine’s name and go to its website. Often you’ll find a “store locator” drop-down box that asks you to type in your Zip code and then tells you wine shops in your area that carry the wine. If that doesn’t work, locate the winery’s customer service number, call and ask. They’ll be happy to help you.