Three Interesting Wine Gifts

Can you guess what's on top of this wine bottle?

Hunting for an unusual gift for the vino lover in your life?

Look no further than the photo above.

You’re probably wondering just what that contraption is affixed to the top of that wine bottle.

It’s a Ravi Instant Wine Chiller, which I got a sample to test out.

Now mind you, I was dubious about this gizmo, which can reportedly cool wine 40 times faster than other products and do a much quicker job than simply sticking the bottle in the fridge.

After all, at a retail price of $39.95, heck, I’d just as soon just stick the darn bottle in the fridge for free, if you know what I mean.

But I have to admit that when used on a bottle of red wine, there is a marked difference in taste. Wine experts will often complain that many restaurants serve their red wines much too warm. Ideally, reds should be enjoyed at a temperature of about 65 degrees.

To use the Ravi, you first have to chill the cartridge in the freezer. Once it’s very cold, it’s ready to use after you attach the funnel-like base. Insert the funnel-end into the opened bottle of wine, tip the bottle and the wine will pour out into your glass through the top of the cartridge.

We experimented on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. First, we tasted the wine just straight out of the bottle. It was big, bold and fruity, just like a good California Cab should be. Second, we tasted the wine again after it was poured through the Ravi.  There was a subtle but noticeable difference. The wine, now chilled a bit from the Ravi, was decidedly rounder, with smoother tannins, and deeper fruit flavors.

You have to clean the Ravi after each use, by rinsing it under water, then using a small plastic pump to blow air through it to make sure all the excess water is removed. And of course, you have to remember to stick it back in the freezer so it’s handy the next time you open a bottle of wine.

As intriguing as it was, I’m not sure I’d fork over $39.95 for it for myself. But I might do so for a gift for a wine aficionado whom I thought might appreciate it.

You don’t even have to be a wine enthusiast to appreciate this jaw-dropping book, “Into the Earth” (Panache Partners) by photographer Daniel D’Agostini with Molly Chappellet, co-owner of Chappellet Winery & Vineyard in St. Helena.

This large, coffee table-size tome takes you inside — way down inside — some of the oldest and glamorous wine caves in California.

The first caves were dug by hand with pick axes by Chinese laborers. Nowadays, it takes monster machinery to do the work.

Caves are valued for their consistent cool, dark environments — optimal ones for storing and aging wine.

In this day and age, though, they’ve also become the setting for glittery, private parties and weddings. Some caves even boast waterfalls, elaborate chandeliers, and wrought-iron balconies.

As you leaf through the photos, you’ll be amazed at just how stunning a cave can be.

(Photo by Joanne Hoyoung-Lee)

Lastly, every wine lover ought to have a Food Gal apron decorated with a wine glass, don’t you think?

Priced from $17.90 to $24.60, and decorated with either a white wine or a red wine glass, it makes a perfect holiday gift for those who love to eat and drink.

Wink, wink.

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