With the holiday season in full swing, this gourmet gift guide is perfect for those of us (you know who you are) still on the hunt for last minute gifts to fill hearts with glee, it’s once again time to choose the best gifts to give that food and wine lover in your life! Whether it’s gorgeous stemware, gourmet hot sauces, gadgets, luxury cast iron cookware, or small lot wines, we’ve chosen our best picks in serving, cooking, and artisanal gourmet gifts for you to give…or keep for yourself!
Holiday Gourmet Gift Guide
Beyond the pinot noir, Oregon wine is rapidly developing a great reputation throughout the country for high quality, locally grown wines. Although most Oregon wines rarely make it to the rest of the US, owner/founder Carrie Wynkoop’s mission is to help people explore wines from their beautiful state. With Cellar 503, she specializes in small, boutique producers that cover the entire state and go beyond the
traditional Pinot Noir.
Choose from monthly or quarterly shipments or a one-time gift and can choose from red-only, white-only or mixed. Carrie and her team help create the best club or gift for your wine lover’s tastes, including detailed tasting notes and stories of the people behind the wines so that members get to know the winemakers and what makes the wines unique. Each month, a theme is selected, introducing the wines and winemakers. This year has included women winemakers, organic and biodynamic wines, BBQ wines, and unusual varietals, like the ’13 Girardet Baco Noir (a crossbred white grape and red varietal vine with big, bold flavors of dark berries, cassis, and spice) and ’14 Helioterra Arneis (a creamy, bright white wine that pairs brilliantly with shellfish). The goal: to help wine lovers learn, have fun, and try new wines! Check out Cellar 503 on their website for more.
If you’ve dreamed of coming home to exquisite, sommelier level champagnes waiting at your doorstep, Henri’s Reserve is just the wine club for you. Select from Family Estate Champagnes are exquisite, artisanal and one of a kind Champagnes. Unlike mass produced Champagnes, they use only grapes harvested from highly rated Grand Cru and Premium Cru villages, showcasing the terroir of Champagne’s finest, most elite wine estates, the artistry of the winemakers, and the legacies of generations of champagne making families. The perfect gift for those that truly appreciate a fine glass of bubbly.
From vintner, Stephanie deMasi, comes one of the most innovative ideas in travel friendly wines. Tired of enduring horrible, mass produced wines by the glass, deMasi decided to take things into her own hands. Working with local California wine producers, Fly Wine selects some of the best small lot wines, and bottles them into single serving, one glass packages-perfect for air travel, a trip to the movies, or an afternoon at the park. A portion of proceeds goes to local charities in the area.
Although each of the wines we tasted was better than the last, one was just over the top. Our pick: The Closer, a 2013 Coombsville, California Cabernet, with big bold flavors, dark berries, dusty tannins, and a long, sexy finish. At $13, this steal of a deal will make you the hit of any destination or party. For more information on custom labels for anniversaries, weddings, and parties, see their website.
Wine novices no longer need stare blankly at the shelf or pray that sales staff actually know wine when selecting a bottle to bring to dinner. Like Pandora for wine, Bright Cellars helps you discover new wines based on personalized preferences.
Prior to receiving your first box delivery, members take a short online quiz that automatically matches members with unique wines to meet their taste. Using a proprietary algorithm, the Bright Cellars quiz helps members discover four (4) wines each month to match their taste profile based on 17 preference dimensions. Our box contained a 2014 South African Chenin Blanc (Ngumu), a 2014 Chilean Merlot (Kon Tiki), a 2014 Trebbiano from Puglia, Italy (Orgoglio), and a 2014 Montepulciano from Cheti, Italy (Collefriso). Although Bright Cellars selections are rather obviously by Millennials, and not a sommelier or experienced wine buyers, there was one bottle we enjoyed. The Montepulciano was a nice, juicy red, with notes of plum, red cherries, and spice on the palate. If you’re looking for the right gift for a wine novice, Bright Cellars offers an affordable entry with a unique user experience they’re sure to love.
For Crave Local readers, Bright Cellars has extended an exclusive coupon code for 50% off.
Go to brightcellars.com/crave for $30 off your first order.
Ask any wine professional to pick their favorite brand of stemware, and they’ll probably tell you they prefer Riedel. Testing has shown that Riedel glasses provide the right combination of good looks, balance (how it feels in the hand), and a way to show your wines at their best. The Riedel Ouverture lead-free crystal set contains four of each stem: Red Magnum glass, White Magnum glass and Champagne Flute. at only $89.99 for the entire set, you can get one for yourself, and another to give as a gift this holiday season. Find the Riedel Ouverture Red and White Magnum Glass and Champagne Flute on sale at Amazon.com.
The Uncommon Green Street Map Etched Barware – $15 a piece
If you’re on the hunt for a unique, travel themed gift, look no further than theUncommonGreen. Taking inspiration from the structure of city grids, their barware and stemware is etched with maps of major cities from around the world. From Boston to Paris, there’s something for nearly everyone. Recently released, theUncommonGreen’s new stemless glasses are also sleek, classy conversation starters, perfect for more than just wine. These glasses are truly beautiful in person, and start at only $15 on their website.
Aervana Wine Aerator – $99
Designed to leave wine sediments in the bottom of the bottle during aeration, Aervana is the world’s first electric push-button wine aerator. Easy to use, and a cinch to clean up, it makes wine aeration fast and convenient, especially when entertaining guests. Aervana claims to enhance all wines, although we found it worked better with tighter, newer vintage wines from France or Italy, vs. aged wines, or lower priced vintages, and our guests enjoyed the fun, pump style pour method at the table. Please note, Aervana is meant to be used on a full bottle of wine (minus one glass), in order to obtain proper suction and flow into the pump. A great gift for that wine lover on your list, Aervana’s Electric Wine Aerator is available for $99 on Amazon, with fast shipping for Prime members!
Finex Cast Iron Skillets – Starting at $125
Based in Portland, FINEX cast iron cookware turns food and cooking into art, with heirloom quality, cast iron skillets and pans. Some of the most beautiful cookware in the world, FINEX skillets have stone-polished cooking surfaces and ergonomic spring handles that stay cool on hot burners. FINEX skillets unique geometric shape makes them fit into the oven in tight spaces and corners-places a round or rectangular dish could never go. Born for searing baking, and roasting, you’ll find that breads and dished baked in cast iron will achieve a golden brown crust and cook more evenly than with other surfaces. We recommend investing in the 10″ skillet with lid ($200), as this is a piece they’ll have around for many years to come. The perfect gift for newlyweds, housewarming, or anniversaries. Find more information on their website.
Slate Trays from SlatePlate – $20 and up
Hosting a wine and cheese party? Make sure to put Slateplate on your list. Their serving trays make for a natural, elegant presentation that provides an easy way to create descriptions and notes for each cheese or pairing, and clean up is a cinch. Our favorite: the large Natural Slate Cheese Board w/Chalk, $65 at Amazon. Find more styles at www.slateplate.com.
RawSpiceBar’s Spice of the Month Club – Starting at $6/month
One of our favorite foodie finds of the year, RawSpiceBar’s Spice of the Month Club will guarantee your cooking is anything by ordinary. From Ethiopia to New England, Africa to Thailand, take your taste buds on a journey every month with recipes and small batch spices that will elevate your Sunday Supper. A very affordable $6 a month, you can easily buy RawSpiceBar for everyone on your list.
Tabanero Hot Sauce Gift Set – $19.99 and up
The quintessential must have for any home cook or foodie, Tabanero’s 100% all natural hot sauce is a great way to improve almost any dish. Made from all-natural ingredients from Tabasco, Mexico, Tabanero’s award-winning hot sauces come in hot, extra hot, and sweet and spicy agave. We tried all three, and found the sauces added an extra special kick to everything from chicken sandwiches on the grill, to cheese plates and pizza. The Agave Sweet and Spicy was a favorite for our crew, and will definitely be on our reorder list. Grab the tri-pack for $27.99 on their website, or a single bottle on Amazon.
Ayara Thai Cooking Sauces- $9.75
Acclaimed Los Angeles Thai restaurant, Ayara Thai Cuisine, is now packaging and selling their award-winning sauces to customers across the United States. For years, friends and customers have been requesting samples of the delicious and authentic Thai sauces, so they could incorporate them in their kitchens at home. Now available for purchase, we tried their House Dressing, Pad Thai Peanut sauce, and Cucumber Sauce, and found them delicious with everything from veggies to pork chops and grilled meats. Find more information on their website.
Hot Winter Hot Sauces – $8 ($25 with free shipping)
Does your foodie want out-of-the-box? We’ve got it! You won’t find this hot pepper anywhere else in the world! The Hot Winter Pepper is a unique variety that Shaun, the founder, began cultivating in 2009 into order to make his one-of-a-kind, organic hot sauce. Using sustainably grown ingredients and supporting local farms and agriculture, Hot Winter’s original fermented hot sauce and variety of pepper based, gluten free sauces are just the gift for your heat-loving family and friends. More information and discount packs on their website.
Casabella Garlic Roaster – $7.99
Roasted garlic is the perfect accompaniment to a start a meal. Just pour a glass of wine, set out a tray of fresh bread, and pour a little extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl for dipping with the roasted garlic cloves. The challenge with roasting garlic-too little time, and it will still be too harsh and strong. Too long-you’ll end up with burned, hard cloves, instead of creamy and spreadable. Roast garlic the fast and easy way with this silicone garlic bulb roaster, from Casabella. Safe up to 400º F, this little tool will keep you mess free, and roast garlic perfectly in no time. Find the Casabella Garlic Roaster on Amazon on $7.99.
Citrus zest can enhance everything, from cocktails to cake recipes, but that bitter pith can leave a bad taste in your mouth. If you’re looking for a better way to zest, check out the KitchenIQ Better Zester. The combination of the V-etched teeth and non stick coating allow the zester to skim across the surface of rough citrus smoothly and easily, creating thin, wispy zest without grating pith into your recipe. Five star rated on Amazon, this is a must have tool for your bar or kitchen.