Wine Ink: The gift of wine and a few other things |

Wine Ink: The gift of wine and a few other things

‘Tis the season, and with scant few days remaining until Christmas you may be wondering what to gift the wine-lover in your life. We all know wine-lovers are generous and jolly souls who are deserving of something special. It may simply be a bottle of a wine they truly love, or if you are so inclined, something that is a bit more out of the box, as they say.

The key is to come up with a concept or gift that generates a smile, maybe a hug and, if you are really good, a tear. Because aside from generous and jolly, those who love wine are generally an emotional lot.

If the wine-lover in your life prizes both purity and entrepreneurial hutzpah, then the “Üllo” Wine Purifier sulfite filtering system covers both bases. Sulfites are present in the majority of wines and are there to keep wine fresh by preventing oxidation, a process where oxygen changes the chemical components and flavors in a wine. But once the bottle is open, the sulfites serve no further purpose. And here is the rub: sulfites are a known allergen and there are those who swear sulfites in wines give them headaches.

Sensing a problem in need of a solution, James Kornacki, a then-Northwestern University doctorate candidate in chemistry, invented a proprietary filtration system he calls Selective Sulfite Capture, which purifies wine as it is poured from the bottle. Kornacki launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised $250,000 to produce a line of products around a polymer cup that has a sulfite capture filter through which wine is poured. The Üllo fits over a glass or a decanter and not only removes the sulfites, but aerates the wines, as well. Joanne Hrabovsky at the Kitchen Loft in Aspen’s Miners Building says wine-lovers love the “Üllo.”

“People come in looking for a gift and wind up buying the decanter system for themselves,” she enthuses.

The purifier costs $79 and replacement filters come 10 to a box for $40 each. The Üllo won a prestigious “Good Design Gold Award” at Australia’s Good Design Awards this year at the Sydney Opera House. At the very least, gifting an Üllo will get you a smile.

Another gadget that solves a problem, albeit most assuredly a first-world problem, is the Coravin wine-opening system. The problem? You want to taste a glass of wine from a bottle, but you don’t, for whatever reason, want to drink the whole bottle. The solution: a Coravin wine system that uses a medical-grade needle to penetrate the cork and, using a shot of argon gas, delivers just the amount of wine you want into your glass before resealing the cork. They are one of the great wine gadgets of all time and carry prices to match. The Coravin, which was introduced to the sommelier and tasting room community less than a decade ago, has morphed into a high-end “gotta have it” item for those who collect fine wines. The Coravin starts at $199 for the Coravin Model 1 Wine System and go up to as much as a grand for the Coravin Model 11, which comes with a leather carrying case, a half-dozen argon capsules (good for about 90 glasses of wine) and six screw caps. Anyone who gets one of these will surely be good for a hug.

And a tear? Well for me, there are few wine gifts that would make me cry, but one would be a set, or even a single stem, of a Zalto hand-blown wineglass. These gems, these works of art, these splendid vessels are as close to perfection as, I don’t know, a Ferrari?

Does wine taste better in a Zalto? I think so, because the glasses are so delicate and balanced they encourage a drinker to pay attention to all senses as they drink wine. The result is that you see the wine more clearly, you spend more time with your nose buried beneath the rim inhaling the aroma and, ultimately, you sip with greater satisfaction. All of the glasses in the Zalto line (there are six shapes for different styles of wine and a seventh “universal” glass) are designed at the specific angles of 24, 48 and 72 degrees, which correspond to the tilt angles of the earth and create a “cosmic parallel” that enhances the wine. The glasses are $60 a bowl and worth each and every penny.

While gadgets and glasses are great, let’s not forget the joy a bottle, or a case, of wine can bring. Stop in your local shop and talk with the folks behind the counter. Let them know how much you’d like to spend and a little bit about who you’re gifting the wine to. The customized selections will surely generate a smile, a hug or a tear, as well as a heart-felt toast.

No matter what you choose to give, remember it’s the thought that counts. Happy holidays.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at

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