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Blanc Elephant Party

Simple gifts for star-crossed wine lovers

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Are the chains of the Ghost of Christmas Present scraping on the floor already, and you haven't even checked a wine lover or two off your gift list? Then it's time to give the absurdly obvious a go.

Consider a corkscrew as a stocking stuffer. Really, a corkscrew? Yes, really, especially if you've ever noted family or friends struggling to strong-arm the vinous precious from the bottle with an old, single-action corkscrew. It's heroic, sure, but it's not efficient on a Wednesday night after work when you're seriously wanting for a splash of Chardonnay. Everyone who drinks wine often, or even occasionally, or who plans on maybe having a splash to celebrate the New Year, ought to have a double-hinger, or "waiter's" corkscrew. It's simple and effective. A wooden-handled version adds some class for a gift. The good news is, they're often for sale as branded items at wine-tasting rooms and make an easy pairing with a bottle from that winery. Now we've wine and a means of accessing it—what else is necessary?

Wine glasses. Really? Sounds like a tip from the vineyard of Clos-St-Obvious. If your intended recipient is in the wine business, maybe, but scope the cabinets. Wine enthusiasts know that glassware breaks, perhaps especially in moments of enthusiasm, and is not always replaced. Many homes where a fine Sonoma County or Napa Valley wine brightens but the rare weekend evening simply lack proper wine glasses. This isn't a matter for wine snobs only—it's about enjoying the darn wine. The straight-sided jelly jar had a tortured tenure as the, uh, hipster's anti-snobbery vessel of choice for sipping artisanal Albariño, but it still kills the aroma. And who wants to do that when our neighbors have braved smoke and blackouts to make sure their fermentations result in a high-quality libation? Fine glassware isn't made much locally, but look to a local business like Corrick's for experience and advice in choosing Riedel stemware—proper whiskey glasses, too—or Waterford crystal, both in a modern, elegant style and traditional cut crystal designs, decanters and more. Corrick's, 637 Fourth St., Santa Rosa.

OK, the presents are open and cheeks are getting rosy, but we don't want to ruin a perfectly cheery celebration by having one glass too many—and wouldn't want to waste the rest of that good wine, either. See if a can of Private Preserve doesn't fit in that stocking, too. From a company based in Napa, it's a blend of inert gas—a blast or so in a bottle saves the wine for another merry day. Local wine shops, like Wilibees Wine & Spirits, carry it.

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