Over 50 Gifts for Wine Lovers: The Ultimate gift guide

coaster.jpg

September is coming to a close, and that means that we’re on the fast track to fall and winter festivity. So, in preparation for the 2019 holiday season, we’ve rounded up the best wine gifts for the wine connoisseurs, wine enthusiasts, and sommeliers on your gift list.

You won’t find trendy trinkets, wine t-shirts, or silly slogans on this list. Instead, you’ll find timeless items that wine lovers will truly love (and that we have personally used - and loved! - ourselves).

Use the links below to search by category:

Wine Preservation Gifts

Coravin Model Eleven Fully Automatic Wine Preservation System 

This is the ultimate gift for the wine collector who has been coveting the Coravin, has a passion for all things wireless, and is a total gadget fanatic.  Enjoy wine by the glass without removing the cork! This bundle also has accessories for screw-cap wines.  

Coravin Model 2 Premium Wine Preservation System

Know a wine lover who has everything, but still want to be able to pay you rent after you buy their present? Here’s the Model Eleven’s little sister, the Model 2.  Enjoy wine by the glass without removing the cork, and without all the frills of the Model Eleven.  

Eurocave WineArt Preservation System

This attractive wine preservation system is ideal for the wine connoisseur who opens one or two bottles a week and intends to consume the wine in under seven days. This system is designed to sit on countertops and fits under most cabinetry, helping to eliminate the risk of partially consumed wine bottles being hidden in the refrigerator and forgotten.  

Wine Saver Vacuum Pump Preserver

Great for the wine enthusiast on a limited budget, with limited space for bulky wine preservation systems. This system stores nicely in a kitchen drawer and is also good for holidays when many bottles may be partially consumed.

Wine Folly Champagne Stopper Made in Italy

Can’t finish that bottle of bubbly in one evening?  No worries, use this heavy made-in-Italy Champagne stopper, refrigerate it, and you’ll still have fizz two days later (or more)! Works for other sparkling wines as well and is a thoughtful gift for Mimosa lovers.

Repour Wine Saver - Wine Saver, Stopper

Don’t care for all the gadgets, and simply want a good stopper? This Repour Wine Saver, used by a growing number of wine bars, is good if you want to minimize oxidation and plan to finish that bottle in three or more days.  

In-Home Wine Dispenser - Just Like Wine Bars

Now you can have the look and ease of a fine wine bar in the comfort of your home. For that partner that sees an Enomatic at the wine bar and wants to take it home, here’s the solution!

Wine Storage Gifts

Best Large Wine Cabinet

Check out our review on living with a Eurocave wine cabinet for over five years (coming soon!).  We personally own a Eurocave 283, but also love the Artevino, which is a little smaller, storing approximately 200 bottles.

Best Small Wine Refrigerator

Check out our review on the best small wine refrigerators , and see our top pick here:

Made in America Wine Racks

Already have a cool, dark place to store wine?  Here’s our favorite wood wine rack by Wine Racks America. Store 72 wines in your closet, basement or wine cave.

Metal Wall Wine Rack

No cellar? No problem. Display a few wines you will consume in the coming weeks right on your wall.  Good gift for wine lovers in townhomes and apartments.

Wine Glassware Gifts

Gabriel Gold Glas Universal Wine Glass

Check out our Gabriel Glas Gold article for a full review.  This is our favorite feather-light go-to glass.

Zalto Universal Glass

Ideal for those who love the thought of fine rimmed bows and delicate stemware, but want a more robust feel in their hands without sacrificing a great bowl.  

Gabriel Glas Decanter

We just love the look and feel of this mouth-blown, Austrian crystal, lead-free decanter. It is easier to clean than some other artistic decanters on the market.

Everyday Decanter - Le Chateau Wine Decanter

This lead-free crystal decanter is a good step up from big-box store decanters. Price point is good for home parties where one mis-step could lead to broken glassware on your floor or in your sink. 

Wine Service Gifts

Waterford Crystal Wine Bottle Coaster

This is a nice gift for anyone wanting to own one piece of Waterford. It adds a splash of elegance, and is a good paperweight when not holding a bottle of wine.

Stainless Steel Wine Bottle Coaster 4-pack

We use these frequently in North Carolina when cool white wines start to sweat after being removed from the refrigerator. Keep your table looking nice with this coaster 4-pack.

Champagne Wine Bucket with Stand

Regardless of your wine preference, this bucket and stand pair is great for keeping sparkling and white wines (as well as craft beer bombers) cool on hot summer evenings. With a combined weight of 6 pounds, it can prop open patio doors, and with its stainless steel construction, if you accidentally leave it outside overnight it will not rust. Instead, it becomes the Best. Birdbath. Ever.

Vacu-Vin Wine and Champagne Cooler  

No space for a Champagne wine bucket? No problem. These re-usable and foldable wine sleeves cool down warm wines quickly. Simply store them in the freezer between uses.

American Metalcraft Wine Service Tray

These stainless serving trays can be used to transport wine bottles and glassware, as well as food between tables or food stations.  

Serviette (aka White Cloth Restaurant Napkin)

Sommeliers use these simple white cloths to cover the service tray (to prevent bottle and glassware slippage while walking) as well as to wipe bottles and stop drips during pouring.  

Wine Tasting Gifts

KnowWines Wine Tasting Class

Get a group together and organize a wine tasting to explore new tastes as well as build community. Contact us for an in-person class.  We can customize classes to fit your needs.

Not in North Carolina? No problem. Contact your local wine bottle shop or wine bar to see if they offer classes on site or can send someone (and some wines!) to your home.

Wine Tasting Grid Mat

Setting up your own wine tasting?  These wine tasting grids double as placemats.  Also check out our blog on how to do a wine tasting in your home.

Blind Tasting Wines

This wine subscription aims to present to you wines to explore with their identities covered.  Taste with friends or family and see who guesses the best. Once you unveil the wine, you can learn more about it in enclosed envelope.

Wine Glass Cleaning Supply Gifts

So your wine loving friend already has a kitchen or dining room full of wine accessories.  For the neat-nik in your life, a thoughtful collection of cleaning supplies in a gift basket might do the trick.

Riedel Microfiber Polishing Cloth

After five years of home glass-polishing use, ours are still going strong. 

Crystal Glass Cleaning Sponge with Handle

There are so many different types of glass cleaning sponges on the market. What makes this one stand out is the scratch/free brush and the bamboo handle that allows you to stand it up to dry. 

Polident

Can’t get that red wine stain out of glassware? Let it soak overnight with Polident.

Decanter Cleaning Brush and Beads

Decanter brushes and beads get in all the nooks and crannies where typical brushes cannot go.  

Decanter Stand

Once your decanter is washed, it can be dried and stored on this decanter stand with rubberized ring that prevents scratching of the decanter neck and body.

Wine Travel Gifts

North Carolina Wine Trails

Plan a weekend getaway exploring North Carolina’s gorgeous wine trails.

Napa and Sonoma

Plan the ultimate West Coast wine adventure using our detailed guide to Napa and Sonoma.

Bordeaux

Treat yourself to a beautiful trip in Bordeaux with our guide for women traveling solo in that region.

Rhone

Become a Rhone Ranger and gift your partner a journey to this beautiful, rustic region.

Virginia

Virginia is for lovers! So what could be more romantic than a Virginia wine trip for two?

Wine Gift Bags

Two Wine Carrying Bag

Read our blog reusable wine bags for more ideas in this category. (But, spoiler alert: this is our top pick!):

Wine suitcase

Traveling to wine country and need to bring back bottles in checked luggage? Check out our blog to learn more about traveling with and packing wine. And for your gifting needs, here’s our favorite wine luggage:

Wine Bag for Wine Sales Person

Have a friend or family member in the wine business who could use a high quality bag for carrying samples?  This is the wine bag we personally use when teaching wine classes.  

Wine Stocking Stuffers

Wine Stain Remover

If you happen to spill some wine on your clothes, the carpet, or your friend’s jacket, this Made-in-Texas product really does work on fresh wine spills!  It is available in a 4.8-ounce bottle for home use and single-use packages for dining out and travel.

Wine Opener

Check out our review of wine openers.  Here’s our top pick for gift giving, for quick reference:

Wine Charms

In 2019 we reviewed wine charms. One of our favorites, Simply Charmed, also makes holiday-themed magnetic wine charms:

Yeti wine tumbler

Whether you need to keep wine cool in the summer or your gluhwine warm during the holidays, we found this excellent Yeti tumbler can meet both needs.  

Free and Low Cost Wine Gifts

Subscription to a Wine Podcast

Have a friend who doesn’t know how to download wine podcasts?  Spend an hour at a wine bar with them and get them set up! Some of our favorite wine podcasts are Wine for Normal People, Vinepair, and Guild of Sommeliers.

Wine Games

Download some FREE wine word search games to alleviate cabin fever or to pass time in the car or airport!

Wine Tasting

Learn about local wine tasting events, both free and with fees, through this great site.

Wine Magazine Subscriptions

Decanter

This leading wine magazine from the UK offers a European perspective on wines and is often regarded as the world’s leading magazine on wines. The magazine covers many areas, including vintages, winemakers, destinations, farming practices, and industry news, as well as wine ratings.  

Decanter UK
Ti Media Limited

Wine Spectator

The leading wine lifestyle magazine in the United States with a US consumer focus. Short stories and features on winemakers, wine regions, and wine collectors. Also includes wine reviews.  

Wine Spectator
Shanken Communications

Wine Gift Books

Snob-Free Wine Book 

By podcaster and Raleigh, NC resident Elisabeth Schneider, this book is great for GenXers and your favorite sceptic.

New Wine Book

The perfect wine book for a visual learner.

Becoming a Sommelier

Go behind the scenes with Somm Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking With Men: A Memior.

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition

Just in time for the holidays, an update to the beloved Wine Atlas. 230 maps!

And that’s a (gift) wrap!

We look forward to adding to the 50+ items on this list as new, high-quality products become available. What will you be gifting to that special wine lover in your life this season? Let us know in the comment section below!

And yes, several of these links are affiliate links.  What that means is that we get a small commission from some sellers at no additional cost to you.  These commissions allow us to buy and try products and give you some insight on these products from the perspective of a fellow wine lover.  

Happy shopping!

















































































The KnowWines Guide to Wine Clubs, Wine Subscriptions, and Wine Delivery

wine box.jpeg

The internet, investors, and changing interstate commerce laws have come together to bring innovation to the areas of wine clubs, wine delivery, and wine subscriptions. While we love to frequent local wine shops, we also appreciate that consumers are no longer limited by the wine selection in their immediate market.  

Here, we use our experience with wine clubs to outline the pros and cons of the wine clubs available today, as well as the positives and negatives of wine delivery.  Join us as we dig deeper into wine clubs, wine subscriptions, and wine delivery services.

What is a wine club or wine subscription?

There are many different types of wine club aiming to secure wine lovers as monthly customers. Typically, there is some incentive for signing up - a free wine tasting, a shipping discount, or some other enticing benefit. Before delivery, an agreement is signed detailing the number of bottles per month or year, the corresponding monthly fee, and the length of time one must remain in the club (or how many bottles to receive before canceling).

When you join a wine club, an expert is curating your wine collection, eliminating the burden of decision making.  However, the ease of delivery may not be quite as easy as it sounds because delivered wine can’t be left on your doorstep - you have to be at home it. (More on that later!).

There are plenty of reviews claiming that this or that wine club is the best, but the truth is that wine clubs are not one size fits all. While wine clubs attract a good deal of consumers, many of them opt out of wine clubs within two years. Why? Because the consumer may not have taken the time to find out whether a particular wine club will be a good fit.  So, if you’re considering a wine subscription, take some time to identify your wine profile.

What is my wine profile?

Wine consumers fall into six general categories (or genome segments) as identified by Bauerhaus.com. These are Image Seekers, Everyday Loyals, Enthusiasts, Engaged Newcomers, Price Driven, and the Overwhelmed. We have taken the liberty of adding another category: Wine Obsessives.  

Image Seekers like to look over wine lists and wine scores. Perhaps we want to impress friends or clients with wines. Image Seekers also like the look of labels and feel of bottles. They may be up on wine trends but aren’t overly concerned with the details. Image Seekers might spend a little more per bottle than other wine types. However, if there’s a new trend in craft beer or artisan spirits, they are likely to leave wine behind momentarily to chase after the next great thing.

Everyday Loyals are consistent lovers of particular wines. We all know someone like this - the mom who loves Rombauer Chardonnay, the uncle who loves Chablis or the brother who brings Apothec Red home by the case. These loyalists know what they like - and this can be a wine brand, a grape variety, wines from a region. While sommeliers might be frustrated that Everyday Loyals always want to drink the same thing, research shows that this group makes up the largest group of wine consumers by sales.  

Enthusiasts are the folks thirsty for wine knowledge. They love to get multiple inputs before purchasing wine, either from critic scores, shelf talkers (shelf tags), wine merchants, books, or magazines.  Enthusiasts like to check out what is new in the wine section of stores or visit bottle shops while traveling for work or vacation. Enthusiasts may stay enthusiasts for life, or they may become wine obsessives (like us!). They may also someday switch their enthusiasm to spirits like bourbon.

Engaged Consumers are consumers with an interest in learning more about wine, and are typically new wine consumers. They know they like wine. These consumers may become enthusiasts or they may just enjoy wine occasionally with friends.

Price Driven consumers are fairly straight forward. We all know someone who loves a sale, has all the discount codes, and likes to choose the least expensive wine from the list. Nothing wrong with a great value!

Last is the Overwhelmed Consumer. If you like wine but feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices in store aisles, online, or on a wine list, you can count yourself among the Overwhelmed!

Wine Obsessives!  We’re not included in the Bauerhaus assessment, so I add us in as a seventh type of consumer.  We may have started as an Enthusiast or even an Everyday Loyal, but somewhere along the line we jumped to being an Obsessive. We love reading about wine, visiting wine regions on holidays, purchasing wine storage or wine refrigerators, and collecting a broad or specific wine type. We might also subscribe to multiple wine magazines and follow one or more wine bloggers on social media.  

What type of consumer are you?  Let us know in the comments below.

There are wine clubs or wine subscription services that cater to each of these consumer types.  

What type of wine club is good for me?

The best type of wine club for you is the one that matches your wine consumer profile. You may remain a specific type of wine consumer for a short or long time, or you may shift across different consumption types as you pass through various life stages.

Now that you know your current wine profile, you can start to sift through the many wine clubs out there and find one that fits your needs for the next 12 - 24 months. Why 12 - 24 months? This is the time frame within which one can typically get the best bang for the buck. If your wine profile changes, one can typically opt in and out of wine clubs. Just remember to read the fine print before signing us, as there may be a minimum number of months before you can opt out.

What types of wine clubs are there?

Wine Clubs for Cheap Wine

We get it.  You want a grape-flavored beverage containing alcohol without all the fuss and at a low price, with free or low-cost shipping.  And bonus points for not needing to leave your house! You are likely a Price Driven consumer and are interested in wine clubs with a focus on value. 

These wine clubs scan the wine market and look for something different than what is available in your average big-box store. They focus on wine in the bulk market or value wines available for private label wine branding. Alternatively, the wine might be purchased on the bulk market and vinified by a well-known winemaker. 

If you’ve ever purchased (or been gifted wine) and could not find any information about an actual winery, chances are the wine is from one of these types of wine clubs. The online description will instead focus on key flavors, region, and perhaps farming practices. And importantly, value!

Some examples of these types of wine clubs are Winc and Naked Wines.

Famous Store Brand Wine Clubs 

You may be Overwhelmed by all the wine choices and are thus interested in wines that come from trusted brands. Famous store and media brands you have grown to trust look for ways to strengthen their fan base by offering products and services to help consumers stay with a brand. One of these services is wine clubs.  

Without subscribing, it is hard to tell if you will get private label wines or wines from independent winemakers. Based on an extensive online review, it looks like a lot of these wines are private label bulk wines with a few independent winery offerings included.  

Some examples of these types of famous brand wine clubs are The New York Times Wine Club, WSJ Wine Club, and the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club.

Wine Clubs for Wine Discovery

Engaged consumers looking to build upon their wine knowledge might be interested in wine clubs that are a blend of independent producers and private label wines with a focus on education.

Wine clubs for discovery have an emphasis on learning basic wine concepts through sampling many different types of wines grouped by wine color, style, and agriculture practice. Trendier versions use quizzes or algorithms to direct you to a package you might be interested in.  You can expect to learn the basics around wine varieties, regions, and flavor profiles. In addition to targeting Engaged consumers, these clubs also target the Overwhelmed consumer because the level of detail provided is not overwhelming. If winemakers are mentioned, it is because they are well known.

Examples of discovery wine clubs include Vine Box (for wine drinkers wanting to have a taste before committing to a bottle!), Plonk, and First Leaf Wine Club.

Curation Clubs for Enthusiasts

A number of wine clubs aimed at Enthusiasts curate wines from select wineries. These curation clubs may aim to do any of the following:

  • Introduce wine lovers to new wines based on old favorites (e.g. lower alcohol wines from Bordeaux)

  • Introduce wine lovers of a specific wine style (e.g. Northern Rhone red wine blends) to new wineries that make that style

  • Target specific demographics of wine growers or wine makers (e.g. Women owned wineries or Small Independent producers)


These clubs differ from previous wine clubs mentioned as they are typically grower and winery focused. The information on the website, email, and subscription sign-up is very specific to the wineries highlighted. There will be comparisons between the offered wines and how they differ from other producers in the region or growing the same variety. Specific winemakers and importers may be highlighted, and the club curators may explain why they chose a specific wine over another.  

Some characteristics of these types of curation clubs are engaging emails describing the wines in detail, highlights of winemakers, storytelling about the wine, and dedication to customer service. Local versions of these wine clubs may offer local pick-up to save money on shipping. They may even provide delivery (though delivery options may be limited if it is a smaller wine club).

Take a look at these curation wine clubs: Acme Fine Wines Club, Kermit Lynch Wine Clubs, Women Owned Wineries Sonoma Wine Club, and the SIP Wine Club.

Winery Wine Clubs

If you enjoy the same wines year after year, winery wine clubs are a good way to support your favorite winery as well as getting access to wines similar to your favorite(s). Many of these clubs offer special pricing or shipping discounts around the major holidays. Wine clubs also offer benefits to members which may include free tasting, exclusive events, and travel with fellow wine club members.  Accompanying many winery wine club memberships are details not easily found online, such as in-depth stories about the estate, profiles on the winemaker, vintage challenges, even updates on the cats and dogs at the winery!

Many wineries have online wine club information on their website, and you don’t even need to go to the winery to sign up.  One potential drawback is that your favorite winery may not ship to the state you live in - simply check the fine print! 

Some examples of popular winery wine clubs are the Hall Wines Wine Club, the Ridge Vineyards Wine Club (be sure to also check out our detailed review of Ridge Vineyards!), Biltmore’s Vanderbilt Wine Club, and the Schramsberg Wine Club.

Wine Clubs for Wine Obsessives

Wine obsessives tend to purchase bottles independently and may participate in specific winery wine clubs or subscribe to email lists that offer sales on recognized wine.

Wine Obsessives interested in blind tasting will probably like the Somm Select.

Wine Obsessives interested in sales on known wine brands may like Last Bottle Wines.

What should I know about wine delivery?

Here are some key things to know when it comes to receiving your wine shipments.

Minimum Age 21

In the United States, someone age 21 or older will need to sign for the wine.  

Home Delivery of Wine

Wine won’t be left on your porch or stoop in the United States. You will need to be at home when the wine arrives or you will need to travel to a location indicated on your door tag (e.g. FedEx, UPS). One way to reduce this hassle is to have the wine shipped to your workplace. Some businesses may restrict alcohol on-premise, though, so check your workplace policy. Delivery to work might be a convenient option if you travel for your job and want to prevent the shipping company from returning wine to distribution center because you did not pick it up in time. 

Wine Shipping Laws Vary By State

Wine laws are constantly changing. The amount of wine that can be shipped and whether or not your state even allows wine to be shipped are variables. Also, be aware that the wine retailer needs to do paperwork for each state to which their business ships wine. While it might be perfectly legal for the wine club to send you wine, the business may opt out of shipping to your state if there aren’t enough customers to justify the work required to ship.

alcohol-close-up-rack-2909085.jpg

Weather and Wine Delivery

Wine clubs may not deliver year round due to extreme temperatures. It is more expensive to ship during the summer as special care is needed to prevent wines from getting “cooked.” Additionally weather disturbances like snow storms or hurricanes can disrupt delivery and delay your shipment.  

How do I store my wine?

Regardless of which wine club you choose, you might find that it is hard to keep up with consumption. This is a common reason why people stop subscribing to wine clubs.  Check out our article on wine storage to learn more about how to store your wines.  

How do I cancel a wine club?

It is important to keep documentation regarding wine club signups. Some wine clubs allow you to cancel at any time. Others require a minimum number of shipments or wine bottles purchased before cancelling.  

Our Wine Club Wrap Up

Wine clubs are a great way to explore the world of wine. It’s important for customers to find a club that’s a good fit (fitting their wine profile). (Also, it is critical to read the fine print before signing up!) If you have a poor wine club experience, it is likely because the wine club does not meet one of your needs. Either it doesn’t fit with your consumption style, the shipments are too frequent and pile up, or you find it inconvenient to coordinate shipment pickup.  

Wine clubs are probably the best fit for Loyal and Engaged wine types. For the Loyalists, getting your favorite wine over the course of the year might be a great way to support your favorite brand or winery, and ensure that you don’t miss a vintage in case your local bottle shop stops carrying your favorite wine. Wine clubs are generally great for Explorers, though Image Seekers may get bored before the year is up. Value wine seekers might find better values at places like Trader Joes and Costco. Enthusiasts might find that some of the detail is lacking, and may wish to seek out wines from sommelier selection services or regional wine clubs highlighting specific wineries.  Obsessives are more likely to purchase from a variety of sources.  We might like to purchase directly from the winery or from traditional bottle shops or online wine sellers by the bottle versus as part of a wine club.  

We’d love to hear about your wine club experiences in the comments below!

Cheers!

The Top Seven Single Wine Bottle Holders

Floating Wine Bottle Holder Lasso.jpeg

Many wine enthusiasts like single wine bottle holders because they provide an attractive conversation piece on the countertop or table while their guests are enjoying wine.  There are many types of single wine bottle holders available from artisans and from online retailers. 

We’ve scoured the internet and found the very best, up-to-date wine holders, any one of which may be a good addition to your dining space or a nice gift for a wine-loving friend.

Why would I want a single wine bottle holder?

A single wine bottle holder is a decorative way to show off a prized bottle of wine.  The wine bottle holder might be minimalistic - intended to display the fine wine. Or, you may prefer a bolder wine holder - a conversation piece beside the cheese tray.

Wine bottle holders, which can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, or all of the above, have become very popular home decor items.  Also, a wine bottle holder can be an easy, quick gift for the wine lover who “has it all.”

How do I choose a wine bottle holder?

Whether you are purchasing the wine bottle holder as a gift or for your own home, there are a few things to consider.

Construction

Wine bottle displays can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, wire, resin or a combination all of the above.  

Aesthetic

Since wine bottle holders are home decor, the design aesthetic is a big focus.  Consider who will be using the wine bottle holder. Do they intend to use the product seasonally or throughout the year? Do they like funny/quirky things or are they more traditional?

Space

If the apartment dweller or homeowner has limited space, then a large single wine bottle holder might take up too much space.  They may prefer a wall-mounted item.  

Quality

Since these items fall into the kitchen home decor category, they are typically low to moderately priced.  One-of-a-kind wine bottle holders can be premium priced. However, since those items are very specific we limit our reviews to items that are mass-produced but not low quality.   

Do I need a wine bottle holder?

No, a wine bottle holder is not a necessity for a wine collector.  Its purpose is to show off a bottle of wine or to serve as a conversation piece in its own right.  Most often, single wine bottle holders serve as a unique piece of art reflecting the style and aesthetic of the wine owner. There’s not a single, go-to brand of wine bottle holder.  

Precautions to consider

The wine bottle holder exposes the wine bottle to light, heat, and vibration, all of which can affect the wine. For more on long-term storage of wine, check out our wine storage article.  

If you are gifting a single wine bottle holder, acknowledge that minimalists may find them cluttering.
Best wine bottle holders

And the best single wine bottle holders are ….

Best Wooden Wine Bottle Holder

This hardwood wine bottle holder would be a good bet for anyone whose design style you’re not sure of. It does not look or feel cheap and would make a good gift for someone who would like to show off a single Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to guests. This is our pick for that conservative or traditional wine enthusiast in your life.
Pros:

  • Unique gravity-defying shape - does not look like every other wine bottle holder on the market

  • Dark finish and minimalist design complement many home decor styles

  • Comes in a nice box for easy wrapping - no need to wrap an awkward shape

Cons:

  • Free accompanying bottle stopper seems like an odd freebie (but hey, it’s free!)

Best Metal Wine Bottle Holder

We love this simple, stainless steel wine bottle holder as our favorite metal wine bottle holder.  If you (or the gift recipient) want to showcase the wine instead of the bottle holder itself, this might be a good selection.  

Pros:

  • No design elements near the neck of the wine bottle - so it can acomodate 750 mL bottles of various sizes and lengths

  • Matches most stainless steel kitchen appliances

  • Rust resistant - if you entertain outside and accidentally leave it outdoors a few times, it won’t rust

Cons:

  • Might look a little too simple or industrial for those who would prefer a little more character in their wine bottle holder

Best Floating Wine Bottle Holder (in Cowboy Up! Or Ships Ahoy!)

Yes, you can have the best of both worlds - minimalist design that won’t detract from a great bottle of wine AND a topic of discussion at your next party.  

Pro:

  • Makes guests look twice

  • Design is not obtrusive

Con:

  • Only available in white

  • Might get tipped over in a crowded or busy space

Best Wall Mounted Wine Bottle Holder

Many wall mounted wine bottle holders detract from the wine bottle.  Our top pick lets the label do all the talking.   

Pros:

  • Minimalist design - you see the wine bottle not the holder

  • Can be used at room temperature (in a kitchen) or in a wine cellar 

  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • The holder does stick out of the wall a little bit - you will not want to mount one right next to a doorway

Best Animal Wine Bottle Holder

There are so many animal wine bottle holders available online, it was so hard to pick one!  If you don’t know what type of animal a gift recipient likes, an octopus is a good compromise (they’re quite intelligent, and fun to look at, too!).  This wine holder is also a great gift for nautical themed condos or beach homes - or Kraken lovers.  This guy’s tentacles don’t get in the way of the top of the bottle, so it can acomodates a variety of bottle lengths and sizes.  

Pros:

  • Some of the animal wine bottle holders have the bottle aimed at the animal’s mouth.  While this may elicit a chuckle, some people consider it a little on the silly side. Also, those designs might not fit all bottle types.  This one allows for more flexibility in bottle size.

Cons:

  • Don’t store the wine for long in an upright position as the cork will dry out!

Best Unique Wine Bottle Holder (Perfect for Halloween!)

Worried about having a lifeless party?  Why not liven it up with this Undead single bottle wine holder? This is a perfect gift for fans of The Walking Dead or Santa Clarita Diet (or for anyone who loves Halloween).

Pros:

  • Weighing in at a little over three pounds, this resin wine holder is a sturdy piece

  • Very detailed gore on the zombie neck, face and arms

Cons:

  • Does not hold odd wine bottle sizes or odd liquor bottle sizes

Best Wine Holder for Boxed Wine

Who says boxed wine doesn’t deserve a spotlight. We say, “No wine left behind!”

Entertaining a crowd?  Need to take wine to the beach or pool where glass is a no-no? Discard that carboard box and place that bag of wine inside this stylish wood box!  The way this wood box is designed, you can actually get all the wine out of the bag (in some cardboard boxes it is tricky to get all the wine out).

The best part about wine in a bag is that if you don’t finish it all, it will keep for many days.  While much of boxed wine here in the US is nameless plonk in a box, there is an increasing number of good value wine being placed in these containers.  

Pro Tip: Purchase more than one for a party and then use one for wine and the other for any other spirited cocktail under 80 proof.  

Pros:  

  • Good for weddings or big parties when you want to avoid unsightly cardboard boxes

  • Home winemaker?  Fill the bag with your own creation and label with the free accompanying chalk

  • Accompanying bags can be filled with bottled wine as well

Cons:

  • A little bulky - you’ll need to find a place to store it when not in use

And the winner is…

The floating lasso bottle holder!

We like that this wine holder showcased the wine, yet was intriguing enough to be a topic of discussion at an indoor or outdoor party.  Also, the white color complements or contrasts a lot of trendy decor and surfaces.  It would fit right at home in a range of decor styles - beach, cowboy chic, or rustic modern.  

Good luck choosing the wine bottle holder that’s just right for your entertaining or gifting needs!

Cheers!

Opus One Winery: The KnowWines Review

Opus One Overture Wine March Napa 2019.jpeg

We’re fortunate to have been visiting the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country for about ten years. In those years, we have visited  Opus One multiple times. As fellow wine enthusiasts and seasoned travelers, we understand that anonymous reviews in public travel forums often give little insight into the wine experience (and you often can’t gauge the experience of the person writing the review!). As the price of wine tours and wine tastings increases, we aim to help our fellow experience seekers know what to expect! In this blog, we’ve put together our insights on the renowned Opus One winery.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Opus One Tasting

The Opus One tour is ideal for anyone interested in a luxury wine tasting experience. It’s perfect for the following types of travelers: 

  • Wine enthusiasts who want to see and taste the fruits of the historical collaboration between Napa’s Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux’s Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild

  • Wine collectors who want to taste the current vintage of Opus One, one older vintage of Opus One, and/or the winery’s second label Overture

  • Fans of architect Scott Johnson of Johnson, Fain & Pereira

  • Fans of Bordeaux-style wines 

  • Fans of cult Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine

This experience is not ideal for wine enthusiasts looking for a fast, boisterous, casual tasting.  This experience is not for wine lovers seeking out white wines, sweet wines, or a range of different wines. Finally, this wine tasting experience is not for travelers seeking out small, independently owned wineries specializing in bespoke grape varieties. 

Before purchasing the Opus One wine tasting or tour experience, you will need to consider the following: 

  • How much do you want to spend on the experience? 

  • How long do you want to visit and what do you want to see? 

  • Do you want to taste the current release or three different wines?

What is Opus One?

Opus One started as a partnership between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The aim was to craft a wine combining winemaking approaches from both Napa, California and Bordeaux, France.  They aspired to craft a wine that would become their “Opus.”

While the two met first in 1970, it was not until 1984 that the first vintages (1979 and 1980) were released. Opus One was not crafted in the present facility in Oakville until 1991. Prior to 1991, the wine was made at the nearby Robert Mondavi winery.  

To learn more about this partnership and its significance in American Wine History, check out the House of Mondavi. It’s quite amazing (from both from an enology and from a marketing perspective) that a First Growth Bordeaux - Château Mouton Rothschild - would partner with a newer winery from ‘upstarts’ in Napa Valley.  

Opus One wine (and the second label wine Overture) are Bordeaux-style blends comprised of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The grapes in Opus One originate from the estate’s approximately 100 acres of vineyards.

Here are the pros and cons of an Opus One tasting experience at the winery.

Pros

  • A serene and elegant tasting experience

  • No one under 21 allowed

  • Great views of Napa Valley

  • Unhurried tasting experience

  • Arrive early and avoid crowds

Cons

  • Tasting fee not waived with purchase

  • No picnics, no pets

  • Plan several days ahead for reservation during the peak travel season 

Choosing Your Experience

Booking

Opus One makes it very easy to book your visit. The website outlines several types of winery visits depending on your budget, interest, and desired experience. When you purchase your ticket online, you quickly receive an email confirmation.

There are a few tasting and tour options available. However, Guided Tours and Library Tastings are not available until the end of 2019 as the winery is undergoing renovations.  Opus One Tasting Appointment at the Pavilion is the only tasting currently available during the renovation.  

We purchased our tickets three days in advance for a 10:00 am tasting on a Sunday.  The weekends can be very busy, as well as weekdays during summer and harvest. To avoid crowds and get more 1:1 attention, we recommend choosing tasting times earlier in the day.  

View of Opus One from Parking Lot Napa Valley 2019.jpg

Arriving

The Opus One winery is located near Oakville, California at 7900 St Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA 94562.  It is located 70 miles north of SFO airport in San Francisco and 13 miles north of Napa, California. Drive time from downtown Napa is about 20 minutes in the off season, but can be an hour or more during peak season as the road narrows from four lanes to two lanes north of Napa.

If you are approaching the winery from the south on Highway 29, look for Oakville Grocery on your right. The entrance to Opus One is the next driveway on the right. If you approach the winery from Oakville Cross Road from the east, there is a service entrance that is sometimes open if you want to avoid Highway 29.  If you approach the winery from the north on Highway 29, you will need to take a left turn across northbound traffic (which is not a pleasant experience on the busy weekend or on a rainy day!).

The gates to Opus One are closed outside business hours. However, there is enough room off of Highway 29 to pull off onto the driveway to get out of the flow of traffic.  

As you approach the winery from the main driveway, you will see its distinct architecture, which say is reminiscent of a spaceship.  There is ample parking on the north and south sides of the winery.  

As you walk to the main entrance, you are greeted by creme colored limestone columns, olive trees, grassy lawn and the large wooden doors.  

It is behind these doors where you find the concierge who will direct you to your tasting.   During renovations, a temporary tasting pavilion will be set up near the winery.  

Opus One 2013 Opus One 2015 Overture Tasting Napa March 2019.jpeg

Our Tasting Experience

On our most recent visit, we chose the Opus One Tasting Appointment as this was the only tasting currently available during the renovation. This tasting consists of one 2 oz. pour of 2013 Opus One, 2015 Opus One, and Overture for $75. Wines by the glass were also available for purchase.

The concierge checked us in and walked with us to the tasting salon called the Partners’ Room. The check-in process was much like a visit to a high-end department store like Saks or Bergdorf’s.  

In the Partners’ Room (or Pavillion, during renovation) you can select wine by the glass or by the tasting flight. 

Seating is available in the Partners’ Room as well as outside the tasting room. Alternatively, you can climb the stairs and take in the views of the Vaca and Mayacamas Mountains as well as a good portion of the Napa Valley.

We planned for 90 minutes to enjoy the wines and walk the grounds.  Water and crackers are available upon request at no additional cost.  Feel free to ask the host questions about the wine and winery - if the room is not crowded, most are happy to visit with you for several minutes to answer any questions.  The staff has always been helpful in recommending additional tasting rooms, dining options, and lodging recommendations in the area.  

When you return your glasses to the tasting salon, you have the option to purchase bottles of the wines you tasted.  Opus One is distributed throughout the United States and the world, so check with the hostess in the Partners’ Room or Pavilion to find out if the wines are available in your state or hometown.

If you do purchase one or more bottles at Opus One, check out our article on getting your wines home safely.

Social Proof

Throughout the years, we’ve been sending friends and colleagues to this winery.  Most enjoy the experience, as do many online reviewers. Like us, the positive reviews highlight a serene tasting environment, knowledgeable staff, a relaxed pace, great views, and attentive but not pushy service.  

Most negative reviews of Opus One are on the topic of price and the winery not accommodating children and pets.  Also, some visitors prefer ‘warm’ country-cozy ambiance or the rustic elegance they experience at some other wineries. This winery’s ambiance is much more ‘cool’ and Neo Classical, true to the intention of combining European traditions with California wine.  There is only one style of wine to taste here, and some are disappointed in that as well.

Alternatives

We’ve visited 100 wineries in Napa Valley in the past 10 years, and as such, we’re able to provide recommendations for other wineries in the area should you find the price too high or you are simply not able to get in for a tasting.   

Wineries that allow children

Wineries that specialize in Bordeaux-style blends:

Other Cult Cabs:

Conclusions on Opus One Winery

If you like serene tastings and savoring one wine for 30 minutes or more, go here - you won’t regret it.  Also go if you just want to see what all the fuss is about. We do recommend going during the off-season or in the morning hours before the crowds descend.  We’ve never felt pressured to purchase wines after the tastings.  

If you are looking for a boisterous experience that never gets too serious about wine, don’t go here.  Don’t go here if you are looking for a glass of "cheap" wine or a bar-like experience.

If you are wanting to partake in a library tasting or a cellar tour, contact the winery and check when these tastings will be available again following construction.  

Cheers!

The Best Corkscrews and Wine Openers for Wine Lovers

Pulltap Classic Corkscrew.jpg

When it comes to opening a bottle of wine, there are a lot of products out there that can do the job.  Clever kitchen stores and gift shops market all types of wine openers to wine enthusiasts, either for our own use or as gifts.  Don’t fall prey to all those wine keys marketed to the home wine consumer.  

When selecting a wine opener, consider the intended application to select the best wine opener:

  • Will you be traveling with the corkscrew?

  • Do you want to give the best wine key to a sommelier friend achieving her latest certification? 

  • Are you simply looking for a perfect wine opener, one that won’t fail three months from now

  • Are you wanting a double hinged wine key that will fit in your sister’s small hand? 

  • Have you fallen for older wines (with their troublesome older corks!) and so need a traditional Ah So style cork puller?

Start with these questions before selecting a wine opener or corkscrew.

Opening a bottle of wine

Since the invention of the wine bottle and cork in the late 17th century, mankind has been designing and patenting tools for getting corks out of bottles.  

Fast forward to today, where in the United States, about 80% of wine is purchased for home consumption.  That means a lot of wine openers in American homes and a proliferation of different types of wine openers and names for these wine-freeing devices.

Corkscrew innovations are a lot like other kitchen innovations, over-engineered with cheap parts to appeal to the gadget junkie. They often end up collecting dust in the kitchen drawer.  Alternatively, many corkscrews in the grocery store or hotel room are cheap knock-offs meant to be disposable.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wine corkscrews for all wine consumers. These wine openers will appeal to casual users as well as serious enthusiasts and sommeliers.  

And in case you need an opener for older bottles with fragile corks, we share with you our recommendation for a cork puller. 

Last, we review one electronic wine opener for those with limited hand mobility or weak hands and or wrists.  

Wine Opener Terminology

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

What is a Waiter’s friend?  Wine Key? Sommelier’s Knife?  Butler’s Friend? Waiter’s Corkscrew?

Don’t be intimidated.  These are all the same thing!

Based upon a German innovation dating back to the late 1880s, this device of many names has been a true friend to sommeliers, waiters, butlers, serious enthusiasts, and casual wine consumers alike.  The design of a sommelier’s knife has not diversified too much since its inception.

We continue to return to this kitchen multi-tool as it is reliable, takes up limited space, and fees robust enough to stand up to the task of liberating that great liquid from the bottle. 

The components of the wine key are the worm (metal helix), the handle, the boot-lever, the foil cutter, and optional bottle cap remover to remove the caps off of sodas or beer.

How To Use a Wine Key

Many wine opening devices on the market aim at simplifying the wine opening process.  In practice, however, it is quite simple to use a wine key to open a bottle of wine. Most of us simply have not been trained on how to open a bottle of wine.  

For an introduction (or refresher!) on wine service, including use of the wine key to open the bottle, check out this video.  

Not too bad, huh?  

How To Open a Bottle of Wine with a Fragile Cork

Perhaps you have an older bottle and the cork just doesn’t look like it will hold together if you apply the force of the wine key worm to it. Or, perhaps you’ve used the waiter’s friend and $#*@!, the cork broke in half and now you are wondering how you are going to get the rest of the remaining cork out.

This is where the cork extractor or cork puller (also colloquially referred to as the Ah So cork puller) comes in handy.

Check out this video on removing fragile corks from older wine bottles or retrieving the lodged piece of a broken cork.

When To Use An Electric Wine Opener

While we recommend the waiter’s friend for most wine opening experiences, we understand that they might not be easy to use for all wine enthusiasts.  

We are all differently abled when it comes to manual dexterity.  If you find removing the foil on the bottle, opening or closing the corkscrew, manipulating the worm and/or levering the cork out of the bottle painful or impossible, you may want to consider using an electric wine opener.

For our recommendation on the best electric opener, keep reading!

Our Wine Opener Recommendations

Best Waiter’s Friends

Hugger Waiter ABS Handle Corkscrew with Serrated Blade

Our favorite classic black corkscrew is this Franmara Hugger from Italy.  The worm is nickel-plated with an etched line running down the spiral. The stainless steel serrated knife cuts through foil easily. The ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) handle is solid.  ABS plastic is quite similar to the strong and smooth three-polymer plastic used in LEGO building blocks and computer keyboards.  

 The corkscrew also features a two-step boot lever. The wine opener is built like a tank, and fits in the hand like a comfortable knife.  

This type of wine key is common in restaurants, wineries, and at catered events so home wine enthusiasts can rest assured that it will last a long time and can be replaced easily if lost. The black matte finish of the handle gives it a classic look.  

Pros: 

  • The wine key’s larger size fits well in large hands

  • The serrated knife is large and can double for opening boxes

Cons:

  • Plastic handle might feel industrial to home users

  • The wine key’s larger size might feel too big in smaller hands


Pulltap's Genuine Classic 500 Double-Hinged Lever Waiters Wine Corkscrew Bottle Opener

Next up is Pulltap’s wine corkscrew from Barcelona, Spain.  This one’s strong reputation for durability makes it one of the most replicated corkscrews, so beware of imitations with names similar to Pulltap!

The Pulltap has a solid body and a strong nickel-plated double-hinged lever. This body/handle has a smooth, ergonomic feel to it. The worm is teflon coated, which makes it great for both natural and synthetic corks.  

Pros:

  • Ergonomic handle great for opening a lot of wines at a time

  • Retractable teflon coated worm good for natural and synthetic corks

  • This corkscrew is available in multiple colors including classic and trending colors

Cons:

  • Smaller sized handle not ideal for large or extra-large hands

  • The stainless steel foil cutter blade is a little on the small side


Laguiole en Aubrac Wine Opener with Juniper Handle

If you (or a lucky recipient) wants a handmade corkscrew from France, Laguiole wine openers come with a wide array of handles including bone, stone, and specialty woods. The metal components are forged in France in mills near Thiels.  The craftsmen making these knives typically apprentice between one and three years. 

Each individual knife is handmade by artisans from southern France and each is truly a piece of art.  Laguiole is not a brand name, rather it is a generic name for a knife originating from Laguiole village. There are several markings on these knives that are of interest: a fly (la mouche) engraved on the springhead; a cross (Shepherd's cross) used by shepherds for prayer; and signature engraving on the spine of the knife - unique to the knife-maker.  

Pros:

  • Hand crafted in France by skilled artisans

  • Corkscrew and foil cutter forged from Sandvik brushed stainless steel

Con:

  • Can be a little “stiff” to use when new, making it difficult to use at first if you are opening a lot of bottles in an evening

  • Single pull corkscrew (some people prefer double-stage corkscrew)


Best Key Chain Bottle Opener

Munkees 3-in-1 Mini Keychain Corkscrew & Bottle Opener Tool with Knife

If you are looking for a well made corkscrew to keep on your keychain (ideal for outdoor pursuits), the Munkees Mini Corkscrew might be the best wine key for camping.  With this easy to carry 3-inch mini corkscrew, you will never have to research again “How to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.”

In addition to being a corkscrew on a chain, the device has a bottle cap opener and a sharp knife.  The tip of the corkscrew is secured and covered by the bottle cap opener.   

Pros:

  • Small size 

  • Can carry on keychain

  • 30-day free return

Cons:

  • Does not have double-action or single-action lever - will need to use brute force to pull the cork out with the T-handle.


Best Cork Puller

Monopol Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller with Cover

This cork puller is great when you need to uncork old vintage wine.  These two-prong cork pullers go by many names, including Ah-So cork puller, Butler’s Thief, Butler’s Friend, or Ah-So style Waiter’s Friend.  

To use one of these cork extractors, simply use a knife or foil cutter to remove the foil from the top of the wine bottle.  Hold the neck of the bottle firmly and insert the longest prong onto one side of the cork between the cork and the inside neck of the bottle, followed by the shortest prong.  Wiggle the extractor prongs while pushing downwards on the hand. Once the cork puller prongs are firmly tweezing the cork, slowly turn the cork puller while holding the bottle to extract the cork.  Check out our video here:  


This particular cork puller is made in Germany and comes in an esthetically pleasing little black box with plush interior, making it a great gift.  The steel prongs and die cast metal ergonomic handle and cover means it will likely outlast all of us! It comes with a five-year warranty.  

Pros:

  • Cork is not damaged during extraction, reducing the chances that little bits of cork crumbs fall into the bottle

  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Requires a little wiggling and pulling, which might be difficult for some with carpal tunnel or other wrist dexterity challenges


Best electric wine opener

Electric Wine Opener Rechargeable Automatic Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter & USB Charging Cable Stainless Steel by Flasnake

While at KnowWines we prefer the classic styles of the waiter’s friend and cork extractors, we know that some wine consumers want or need an electric wine opener.  If you suffer from carpal tunnel, wrist pain, a broken arm, or have use of only one hand, classic wine openers won’t suffice.

In an electric wine opener, we looked for ease of use, sleek design aesthetics, noise level, and warranty.

This wine opener is very easy to use.  One simply needs to cut the foil using the included (free!) foil cutter, then use the down and up arrows on the electric wine opener to first insert the screw then retract the cork from the bottle.  We also liked the energy efficiency of the device - one can open up to 80 bottles on one full charge!

Pros:

  • Attractive beige box - great for gift-giving

  • Quiet

  • Contemporary stainless steel housing

  • Pretty blue and red lights light up during operation

  • Takes 100 - 240 V


The Wine Bottle Opener Round-Up

For almost all bottle opening applications, the classic Waiter’s Friend corkscrew will suffice.  

When selecting the best bottle opener, consider the user and the situation(s) in which bottles will be opened.

In the wine bar and restaurant community, you’ll find our first two picks for good reasons. The Hugger has the feel of a good multi-purpose chef’s knife, while the Pulltap feels like a great paring knife.  They are a good balance of cost and quality - if you lose one, it isn’t the end of the world.

For those looking for a gift for a serious wine collector or a sommelier achieving his/her most recent wine award, the Laguiole wine opener is a lifetime investment and celebration of enduring craftsmanship.  

Outdoor enthusiasts and college students will find the Monkees corkscrew and bottle combination with keychain a practical tool.

And for those who love the ease of use of an electronic wine opener, who may be suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis, the Flasnake Electronic Wine Opener is a great choice.

We hope this blog helps you choose just the right corkscrew for yourself or a friend. For more great wine gift ideas, check out our ultimate guide to gifts for wine lovers.

Cheers!

Your Foolproof Formula For Finding Great Wine At The Grocery Store

grocery+store+wine.jpg

KnowWines understands that the wall of wines at the supermarket can be an intimidating place.  Often, people choose wine with a label that catches their eye or they grab a bottle they’ve tried before and know they like well enough (Apothic, Meiomi, Prisoner?). The problem with these approaches? Great labels don’t always mean great wine, and drinking the same Kendall-Jackson all the time can get pretty boring. Still, we understand that you’re busy and don’t always have time for a stop at the bottle shop, where you’re likely to get decent advice on the proper wine for your palate. That’s why we developed this quick checklist to increase your odds of selecting great cheap wines at a grocery or big-box retailer (like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco), where finding knowledgeable staff can be hit (or mostly) miss.

While understanding your palate  and preferences is the best go-to for finding great cheap wine, we know some tricks for zeroing in on the best wines when you’re on your own at Trader Joe’s or Safeway. Here’s what to look for:

best+grocery+store+wine+.jpg
  1. Region. The more the bottle says about where it came from (specific appellation, specific region), the better the wine. Grocery stores know that many American shoppers purchase wine by variety from a specific region. Often, the best cheap wine will be your favorite wine variety from an up and coming region.

  2. Climate. If the climate of the origin of the wine is warm, the wine will likely be fruitier and sweeter. If the climate of origin is cool, the wine will likely be more tart or acidic. (You may need to brush up on your high school geography for this one!).

  3. Price. Ignore sale stickers. Whether or not a wine is on sale is not an indicator of quality or value. Instead, read the back of the bottle and look for descriptors that sound like something you would enjoy or not enjoy. The more it says about winemaking and the less its says about lifestyle, the better the value. In a similar vein, ignore supermarket shelf talkers. These are the colorful tags and other flair hanging below the wine shelf - usually they offer very little in the way of understanding a wine’s actual value.

  4. Labeling. Be aware of trendy gender and generational advertising norms and how they are applied in grocery and big-box wine aisle advertising. If the label is trying to appeal to these assumptions with phrases like “frazzled mom,” “diet-obsessed,” “lumbersexual,” or  “bRose,” chances are it is overpriced. Same goes for a really cool font. There are plenty of good wines and good wine stories that don’t pander to offensive assumptions.

  5. Bulk discounts. To explore a broader variety of wine, take advantage of the bulk discount by buying wine by the case. Most grocery stores like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter offer a discount on 6 or 12 bottles (typically 10% or more) at certain times of year. Perhaps your go-to wine is $9 but you want to try a different sparkling wine that sells for $25 — buying five of the $9 wine and one $25 wine can bring that $25 bottle down to $22.50, and you’ll save almost a dollar on each of your old standbys.

  6. Conversation. Talk to the person stocking the shelves. You might get lucky and find someone passionate and knowledgeable about wines. Show them what you like and ask what they consider a value. If they judge your selection, talk to you in a condescending manner, or simply can’t provide any good answers, just stick with our trusty checklist.

  7. Refunding or Repurposing. If you do buy a wine and it tastes like bandaids or cardboard (yuck!), has no flavor, or looks strange, ask for a refund.  Wine flaws originating within the winery are less and less common due to better sanitation and technological advancements in the vineyard and winery, however it is possible that the wine was mishandled after it left the winemaker. Most retailers like Total Wine, ALDI and Whole Foods would rather give your money back and have you return for another purchase. Also, if the wine is just not to your liking, consider using it for a wine cocktail, sangria, or mulled wine before pouring it down the sink. Then, try again next time! 

Happy wine shopping, friends! We hope this checklist will make it a little bit easier to end up with a great tasting wine on your table tonight. For an in-depth set of wine shopping resources, check out our list of great wine books!

Cheers!