Stop crying, put down the circulars and boot up your computer. There’s no need to set even one toe in a mall this year searching for gifts for the wine-lover in your life. Go online or go local—just go vino!
Recycle, reduce, re-order
The20 is already a great source for carefully sourced artisan wines that come in nifty pouches that fit right into their gorgeous oak casks, perfect for large holiday affairs, or by-the-glass enjoyment. But The20’s latest creation is a no-brainer. For $39, you get the Chiller Cask, a decomissioned U.S. Army ammunition case that has been repurposed to hold three liters of wine (equivalent to four bottles), fit neatly in your fridge and stay cold while looking awesome on the table. It’s the ultimate conversation piece. Each box is unique and can come with or without The20’s “Make Wine Not War” peace slogan.
Now that you have the case, you need the wine. Buy a la carte for 20-50 percent off retail, get a starter package of the Chiller Cask and one wine selection from $85-99, or join the wine club at The20Wines.com. Go on, be a hero.
Let them do it themselves
If you’re even semi-confident in the intended recipient’s competence to follow directions (say, enough to assemble a child’s playhouse without imperiling the child), you might consider making a gift of a do-it-yourself wine kit. During Prohibition, wine bricks were sold with the explicit (if tongue-in-cheek) directions not to add water and allow to sit in a warm place for some amount of time as the ingredients might accidentally ferment and turn into wine, and bad wine at that. (Incidentally, the Ken Burns PBS documentary Prohibition also makes a great gift for $35 at ShopPBS.org.) Fortunately today’s directions are more straightforward, telling you explicitly how to turn high-quality grape juice into something resembling wine. At the very least it will be entertaining. And if the results are successful, you might even get a bottle as a thank you. There are plenty of books out there to guide them (try Home Winemaking Step by Step by Jon Iverson for $18 at BrewAndGrow.com), But right here on the Westside, we have Vegas Homebrew & Winemaking (5140 W. Charleston Blvd., 207-2337, VegasHomebrew.com). Owner Steve Berg is ready and willing to hold aspiring winemakers’ hands through the process; a starter kit will run you about $90. While you’re there, pick up a brewing kit for yourself. Think of it as yet another Noble Experiment.
A toast to great Great Recession wine deals
Artisan winemakers are fighting back against megaproducers and the crushing economic climate by getting their product to market via a new forum, the People’s Wine Market, a small, family-owned business that only sources wine from small-family-run operations. These wines are available a la carte with just $5 shipping at PeoplesWineMarket.com. Shipping is free with club or gift memberships: $75 monthly or bimonthly for five to seven bottles at 40-75 percent off retail. It’s like gifting one of those organic veggie basket subscriptions, only the recipient will actually thank you.