‘Tis the season to eat, drink, shop and make merry. What better way to do that than with some of my favorite items of 2014. From wearable wine-related fashion statements and accessories to bites to savor, these selections make ideal gifts (treat yourself to one or two, as well).
Wine Wardrobe: Create your own style with these beautiful wine-themed wearable art items
Olive and Poppy – Cheers to the Sweet Life Necklace $74
I’m a jewelry lover and when I first saw these beautiful pieces with a northern California wine country feel, I was impressed. The quality is top notch and the designs unique. The company was founded by Napa Valley residents, Anne Siegel and Nicole Hughes, and as they tell it “The name Olive and Poppy is inspired by the vibrant, visual representations of the two parts of nature that are synonymous with wine countries throughout the world. Come spring, there are always thousands of colorful poppies growing right alongside the groves of olive trees that line winery driveways.” Cheers.
Crawford Denim for Robert Mondavi Private Selection – Vintners Shirt $135
Everyone needs a high-quality denim piece in his or her wardrobe and this shirt fits the bill. Created by artisan producer, Crawford Denim, the richly-textured shirt can be worn belted over leggings or open in a coat style. The collar and accompanying bandana gains its deep purple hue from using Robert Mondavi Private Selection’s blend, Heritage Red, as a dye. Go ahead and splurge…you deserve it.
Whether you know the classic band, The Grateful Dead, I bet you’ve heard of the band’s icon, Jerry Garcia. He was a musician, wine lover, and artist who made his home in northern California’s wine country (and at one point even had his own wine label). Now, two inventive ladies named, The Grateful Girls, have taken Garcia’s art to a line of scarves. They’re festive and affordable making an ideal gift for friends and family.
Delicious Bites from Sweet to Spicy: These mouthwatering treats will impress for less
Chateau Bakery – Clair de Lune Cookies
Large container $28 or 4 Small Containers for $16
I’m not a big chocolate or dessert eater, but you put some butter cookies in front of me and I melt. These are the best I’ve ever tasted. Chateau Bakery makes the Clair de Lune cookies with an original family recipe dating to their European family bakery started in 1989. Today, owner and baker Esther Buss, continues the tradition with these melt-in-your mouth bites. Only five ingredients are used to make the cookies: cane sugar, flour, butter, sea salt and vanilla. Purity pays off and you will fall in love. (You can kiss me later!)
Maille Old Style Mustard – $5.00
Dijon mustard is my go-to condiment. I put it on everything from cheese to chicken as it’s so food-friendly, adding a dash of acidity to dishes making most pair much better with wine. Maille (pronounced My) mustard is a French classic started in 1747 by Antoine Maille. He went on to supply the European Royal courts with mustard and vinegar. Though I consider the “Old Style” whole grain Dijon a staple, the company has not been stuck in the past, launching delicious new styles like the Honey Dijon and Honey Dijon with Modena Balsamic. Amazing.
Paulie’s Pickling – Spicy Green Beans $8.00
I discovered this small San Francisco spot when shooting my show, Check Please! Owners Liz and Paul Ashby are East Coast transplants that have created a pickling business and sandwich shop that will have you making pilgrimages to the city to find their fare. The spicy green beans are just that – packing a serious pickle punch. Try them in Bloody Mary’s with a dash of their homemade horseradish.
Piment d’Ville – 1.2 oz tin $15.00
Next to my stove I have four items: olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and Piment d’Ville. I discovered the spicy treat while dining in Boonville, California at the Boonville Hotel’s Table 128 restaurant. Locally grown from seed and hand harvested in Boonville, it’s from a pepper known as piment d’espelette from the Basque region of southern France. It’s fiery yet sweet and oh so delicious.
Wine Whimsy: the affordable accessories add flair to any gift bag
Capa Bubbles – $15.95
Capabunga is a product I use daily. What is it? As winemaker owners and inventors Máire Murphy and Walt Averill describe it, “Capabunga is a reusable silicone cap that reseals a bottle of wine after you remove the cork. Once you remove the cork and re-seal the bottle, it is liquid tight and the bottle can rest on its side or even upside down without leaking.” They have recently added a CapaBubbles topper and fun glass tags called GlassWhere by CapaBunga ($11.95) to their lineup. Stock up on all their useful items for yourself, too.
I buy a stash of these whimsical bells with the saying “Ring for a Drink”. Given with a bottle of wine, it makes a clever and inexpensive gift.
Wine Glass Writers –$9.95
The proliferation of wine charms – rings that look like jewelry and that hook on wine glass stems — has always confused me. Many of them are pretty, but as soon as you have a few glasses you tend to forget if your glass was the one with the cork charm or the cheese slice charm. Have no fear, use these pens to write your names on the glass then simply wash off with a sponge.