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Given my financial bent, I subscribe to and read the Wall Street Journal.  The Journal has two writers, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, who cover wines.  Their Tastings column is a regular in the Friday Personal section of the Journal.  Their book, Love by the Glass, is a recommended read for a story of how two ordinary people gradually acquire a world-class taste for wines.

In the December 6, 2002, Tastings column, Gaiter and Brecher write about 12 top gift ideas.  Some of them are their ideas and some are ideas of others in the wine world.  The selections are listed below.  Note how similar some are to the Wino Wally gift ideas (and I don’t even get paid for this).

  1. A personalized corkscrew – Kevin Zraly, former wine director of Windows on the World and instructor and mentor to Wino Bob, gave these out to all of his captains at the restaurant.

  1. Everyday glasses – Ed McCarthy, author of many books in the “Dummies” series, made this recommendation.  I’ll add to it by saying that Crate and Barrel sells some nice, inexpensive glasses.

  1. Wine classes – Call a good wine store where the recipient lives and ask about wine classes.

  1. Cheese – Andrea Immer’s second-favorite present of all time was “a giant wheel of Vella Bear Flag Dry Jack from Sonoma ($36 at”  Andrea’s favorite present of all time was the restraining order the judge issued on our own Winos Bob and John.

  1. A glass drainer – A stem mat that allows wine glasses to dry before they’re put away.  $11.95 at  The second most favorite recommendation as noted by follow-up letters from readers of Gaiter and Brecher.

  1. Label savers, photo book, and cellar diary – Someone gave one of these to Gaiter and Brecher and it started their wine writing saga.  I’d only recommend providing one of these to the more serious wino.  If you really want to write about wines, send us an article and we’ll publish it under the Lunatic Fringe column.

  1. A good book, maybe an old book – Hugh Johnson’s book is recommended by many.  Andrea Immer’s book is recommended by Wino Bob (remember that restraining order, Bob).

  1. The Worldwide Sampler – A suggested case of inexpensive wines from around the world.  The ones suggested are (and I expect a sequential review to be forthcoming from our Bob):

    1. Moscato d’Asti from Italy ($14)

    2. Gewurztraminer from Alsace ($14-18)

    3. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($10-17)

    4. Australian Semillon ($7)

    5. Vinho Verde from Portugal ($5-7)

    6. German Riesling ($13-19)

    7. Spanish Rose – ($6-10)

    8. Pinotage from South Africa ($9-13)

    9. Malbec from Argentina ($8-12)

    10. Merlot from Chile ($7)

    11. Barbera d’Alba from Italy ($13-22)

    12. Crozes-Hermitage from France ($13-20)

  1. An insulated bag for wine – Great for taking a chilled bottle of wine over to someone’s house for dinner.

  1. A wine rack – Forget fancy and cute racks.  Get an understated rack that will hold a dozen bottles (maybe the sampler).  Price about $15 at Ikea.

  1. A wine saver – VacuVin’s finest (and on Wino Wally’s must list for all winos).  $7-10.

  1. One great bottle – Too many to choose from.  Winos John, Wally, and Bob are always available for advice on this one.

Credits for these selections should go to Gaiter and Brecher.  I saved the article and finally found the time to summarize it and submit it for my reporting.

Wino Wally
Baltimore, MD
February 9, 2002


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