Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Wine and related holiday gift ideas

Depending upon your budget, the sky is virtually the limit when it comes to finding a wine to give (or receive from) that special person. Today, I’ll provide you with a listing of some of my favorite cabernet sauvignons from the exceptional 2007 vintage (note to my friends: please feel free to pass this along to my wife).

However, before I get to the wine recommendations, here are some wine-related gift ideas, including a stocking stuffer or two , for the wine-stained person in your life.

Wine ReferenceI’ve noted it before, but in my opinion, the absolute best wine reference book is the “World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson. It is a compendium of everything you need to know about wine, including information on specific grapes, wines and regions, as well as label descriptions, and the culture and history of wine. Check for it at your local bookshop or online.

Wine Buying ClubsJoining a wine-buying club is a unique way to explore a variety of wines from around the world with the convenience of regular door-to-door shipping or shopping. There are clubs geared for a variety of wine lovers from beginners to collectors. Talk to your local wine retailer about offerings they may have or go to: to find the best club and price for you.

Wine StorageFinding a place to store your special wine is always a challenge. One pretty neat option is the Wine Enthusiast Six -Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator. This adjustable, temperature- controlled wine refrigerator is a great gift for those who don’t have a lot of storage space, but want a reliable place to keep their special bottles. Check it out at: $100 with free shipping.

GlasswareThe aesthetics of sipping wine in crystal is oftentimes a very expensive proposition. However, the good folks at Masterpiece Crystal in Jane Lew, WV craft about the best reasonably priced wine vessels around. The hand-made lead free crystal glasses and carafes come in various shapes and sizes. Go to and check out these works of art or call 1-800-624-3114 to order direct from the factory.

Stocking StuffersFor the manual dexterity challenged wine drinkers in your life, you might slip a container of “Wine Away” in that Christmas stocking. Wine Away is a red wine strain remover that cleans up a clears out those stains that so often appear on your clothes or carpet when people like me are attempting to sip and speak at the same time. Shop for it locally or simply Google “Wine Away” and find it online for about $10.

If you are like me, I like to keep track of the truly special wines I have consumed. Using “Label Off” is one of the best ways to remove and collect those special wine labels. “Label Off” splits the printed surface of the paper from the adhesive backing leaving a laminated label to place into your wine catalog. $10.

Special WinesThe 2007 vintage for cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley may go down as one of the best in decades. The wines are opulent, full-bodied, rich and balanced and should age well for years. Here are some 2007 cabernets you might wish to buy for that special person in your life. They range in price from about $35 to $100 a bottle.

Caymus Special Selection; Joseph Phelps Insignia; Shafer Stags Leap; Newton Napa Valley; Clos Du Val; Vineyard 29; Franciscan Napa Valley; Anderson’s Conn Valley; Robert Mondavi Napa Valley; Rudd Mount Veeder; Beaulieu Georges De Latour Private Reserve; and Cliff Lede Vineyards Stags Leap.

Happy Holidays!

Storing your special wines
Some tasteful holiday gift ideas