We're now past the gimmicky shopping "events" (Black Friday, etc.) and into the serious Christmas shopping season.
If you have wine geeks on your list and think they might just have all the Riedel stemware they need, here are a few possibilities that could work for you.
-- The Wine Key. University of Oregon graduate Charlotte Chipperfield runs The Wine Key, a San Francisco-based online wine school. She has worked in the wine industry and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland.
Her e-courses are called "The Booze Academy" and include one-on-one 12-week education courses ($1,000) and group six-week courses ($297). She also does "pop-up wine schools" that primarily are in the Bay Area but also show up in the Northwest. They run $20-$30, but you have to get there.
For more information or to buy a gift certificate, go to www.the-wine-key.com.
-- S'well. Going camping? Roughing it is one thing, but serving a glass of Riesling at the wrong temperature is simply uncalled for. Here's the solution to that travesty: S'well is an insulated bottle/thermos that will hold an entire bottle of wine and keep it at the proper temperature for 24 hours.
S'well also is fashionable and ecologically sound. Plus 10 percent of each sale helps deliver clean water to India and Africa. The 750ml version comes in four colors and runs $45. The 500ml style is $35 and comes in seven colors.
Go to www.swellbottle.com.
-- Hip Sip. Tacoma wine lover Steve Johnson was at Spring Barrel Tasting in the Yakima Valley a few years ago and got tired of fumbling for his wine glass while carrying a bottle. So the computer consultant invented the Hip Sip. It's a wine glass holder that slips over a belt on your hip and holds your wine glass in place, sort of like a holster.
It comes in black, silver and hot pink and costs just $10.
Find it at some wine retailers and wineries around the Northwest or go to www.hip-sip.com.
-- Wine Caddy. Turn that bottle of wine into a cat, a snowman, a bullfighter or even the Fiddler on the Roof. The Wine Caddy uses recycled steel and copper and turns them into whimsical wine bottle holders. These hand-crafted metal pieces are made in Europe and range in price from $29 to $120.
See more at www.winecaddys.com.
-- CheeseTiles. Most serious wine geeks also are into artisan cheeses. What better way to show off this knowledge than with high-quality reusable ceramic tiles. Here's how they work: With an erasable marker, write the name of a cheese on the tile, then stick it into the hunk of cheese.
PlaceTile in Atlanta has a line of tiles that will enhance any wine lover's party collection. Of particular interest should be the Vine CheeseTiles, which have embossed grapes and leaves. A set of four runs $29.95. There's also the Vine Cheese Knife for $14.95 or a cheese-serving plate with knife for $48.95.
For more information, go to www.placetile.com.
-- Sachi. Want to carry your wine a bit more discreetly and with a lot more style than brown paper bags? Check out the Sachi Vino Insulated Wine Tote. It comes in three colors and two sizes (two- and three-bottle bags). The zippered pocket will hold a corkscrew, and it comes with an adjustable shoulder strap.
Versions run from $25.99 to $28.99.
For more information, go to www.sachi-bags.com.
-- VinniBag. Speaking of getting bottles from one place to another, the VinniBag will help your special wine arrive safely. The inflatable travel bag will protect a 750ml bottle of wine. It claims to meet all TSA requirements, and it even floats.
Keep those liquid assets intact with the VinniBag for $28.
For more information, go to www.vinnibag.com.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.