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How do you enjoy your wine? From a glass with dinner to a bottle with friends, there are lots of wine accessories out there that help make a bottle taste a little better. One example that’s perfect for entertaining is wine bottle holders. Ceramic wine bottle holders in particular keep chilled bottles cool longer (without all the drips of ice) and add a decorative note to the table.

wine bottle holder

Of course, to fully enjoy wine you need to get it open. There are so many corkscrews out there to choose from, but I think the classic waiter style is the best in terms of ease and size.

corkscrew

Once you have the bottle open, cork wine stoppers with fanciful designs are another excellent wine accessory. Instead of trying to cram the original cork back in, these fit easily but still keep an open bottle tasting great for days after. A trick to keep wine longer is to store open bottles of both red and white in the refrigerator; just let the red come up to room temperature before serving.Wine Corks

Other must-haves for wine are the right glasses. Aficionados use a variety of glass shapes depending on the grape, but generally you’re ok with large wine glasses for reds, more tapered glasses for whites, and flutes for champagne and sparkling wine.

white wine glass

red wine glass

Love big bold red wines? A decanter is definitely wise. These let wine breathe and allow the flavors to really open up. An aerator performs a similar task while you pour the wine, but in a matter of minutes (perfect for causal dinners).

Wine is a great way to be prepared for impromptu parties or unexpected guests. I love this simple list from Kris Schoels of Young Married Chic as to what you should always have on hand to be prepared for a last-minute get-together:

1. A great bottle of champagne.
2. Bread, cheese, fresh fruit.
3. Chocolate and extra desserts.

So simple, yet so perfect. Are you prepared?

chocolate assortment

Wine certainly makes everything more festive. Check out our Pinterest board on everything wine for more ideas, then let us know you favorite wine accessories from wine bottle holders to glasses by leaving a comment below.

Corkscrew image courtesy of YannGarPhoto.wordpress.com.

White wine glass image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.

Red wine glass image courtesy of yashima.

Bread image courtesy of designsponge.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

Chocolates image courtesy of aalphotos.

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There are few things that are more delicious than the pairing of cheese and wine, so it’s no wonder that this duo is the star of so many parties. You don’t need to be an expert to love the idea of wine and cheese, or to throw a fabulous wine and cheese party. Some plates, bowls, glasses, and bottles and you’re already well on your way.

Here are six ideas to make your cheese and wine party a success:

1. Leave out the snobbery. Experts can clearly articulate what makes up a wine’s “nose,” but many of us casual wine drinkers prefer to just enjoy the wine, regardless of its subtle nuances of aroma and taste. The look, swirl, smell, taste method is classic, but encourage people to share what they think using their own vocabulary. One trick I’ve seen is to cover all the bottle labels with a wine bottle holder or paper and only mark the grape (or just a number) so that people can form their own opinions without being swayed as to the wine’s region or brand.
2. Share the work. My favorite cheese and wine parties involve the guests bringing a bottle and a cheese based on a theme. It could be as simple as “red” or “Sauvignon Blanc” or get more complicated with a night dedicated to Spanish reds, New Zealand whites, Californian Wines, or bottles from 2008 only. This ad hoc approach can create some interesting (and delicious) cheese plates as well.wine tasting party idea
3. Arrange your plates in threes. Construct an appealing cheese plate with this simple rule. Have at least three things on your plate (more if it’s big) – two cheeses and one fruit, three cheeses, one cheese with some nuts and honey, you get the idea. Make sure to have a separate knife for each cheese on the plate to prevent mixing.4. Bring on the extras. Fill plates and bowls around the room with fruits, nuts, crackers, bread, and other accompaniments for your cheese and wine. Sliced apples, grapes, and dried fruits are a good starting point and can lead to some complex pairings. Some chèvre and grapes on a plate and a large bowl of fresh sliced baguette always appeals.

5. Let guests know what things are. Clearly label everything from your cheese plate to your non-alcoholic options to help people find their favorites (and know the real name of that amazingly stinky cheese). If you’re providing the wine and cheese yourself, use chalkboard contact paper as a runner to construct a clearly marked table before guests arrive. This tip from Rock UR Party also lets you draw arrows to what foods pair best with which bottles – it’s smart and fun.
6. Label your glasses. From wine charms to ribbons, even using a sharpie (it should wash off) or chalkboard paint to label the glass, there are plenty of ways to help everyone keep track of their own glasses. Pick your favorite (and make sure you have a few extra glasses in case a few end up lost regardless).

Do you have any wine and cheese party tips? Favorite plates you use? Leave a comment and let us know (and enjoy that glass of vino)!

Wine bottles and glasses image courtesy of .craig.

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Know any oenophiles? An oenophile is a lover of wine, oenophilia the love of wine, and oenology the study of wine and wine making. Others prefer the term wine connoisseur, aficionado, or the more general, wine lover.

So what do you get an oenophile? It sounds like an easy question – wine. But what kind? From where? If you’re like me and don’t know a lot about wine yourself, picking out wine for an expert can be daunting.

However, help is on the way. Here are a few great wine gift ideas to fit any budget and occasion. I hope they help you fill your oenophile gift needs!

  • A tasting trip: When you want to celebrate something truly special, like an engagement or important wedding anniversary, why not treat your wine aficionado to a tasting in a region they love? A trip to taste Bordeaux in France or Malbec in Argentina would definitely be memorable. If that’s a stretch, investigate regional possibilities; there are more and more wineries throughout the US that produce delicious bottles (not just Napa Valley either). You can make this gift extra lux with overnight stays, dinners, and guided tours along with tasting opportunities.
  • A home tasting package: Brix26 has saved me on more than one occasion with a great selection of California wines. I love their wine gifts: you can buy 2, 4, 6, or 12 bottles and they’ll ship their latest discoveries direct to your wine loving friend. It’s a great way to try new bottles that have been recommended by an expert.
  • Useful wine accessories: Here you have a range of choices. A ceramic wine bottle holder is stylish and practical, keeping whites cool on the table with ease. I also like how ceramic wine bottle holders complete a table’s look when it comes time for a dinner party. Also consider decorative wine corks, an aerator (it helps wine breathe quickly), or charms/tags for wine glasses.

Of course the easiest way to learn more about wine for yourself is to taste. Why not organize a home tasting with some friends? Everyone can bring a different bottle (perhaps based on a theme or region) and talk about what they have in their glass. Ceramic wine bottle holders easily mask labels for blind tasting possibilities, letting you discover what you truly enjoy… and have fun while you do it.

Wine bottles image (top) courtesy of Procsilas Moscas.

Wine gift image courtesy of Brix26.

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Summer brings with it many things: long sun-filled days, picnics, trips to the beach, and barbeques. It also seems to bring out the white wine drinker in all of us – on a hot day there’s nothing like a cool glass of crisp pinot grigio or chardonnay before and during a leisurely dinner.

But with the heat comes another age-old problem: how to keep things cool? Icy champagne buckets are heavy and messy. Not only does the bottle drip all over the place, the ice becomes just a pool of water by evening’s end. But keeping the bottle in the fridge means multiple trips back and forth to replenish glasses, which is inconvenient whether you’re sitting outside or in. However, I’ve come across another solution for this quandary: try a ceramic wine bottle holder. It keeps a chilled bottle cold on the table, there’s no mess, and it looks great the whole time!

I wrote about giving a ceramic wine bottle holder as a gift, along with a special bottle of wine back in May. They make a great gift because bottle holders fall in that category of items that you may not think to buy, but use constantly once you have.

What makes a ceramic wine bottle holder so handy? It gives instant charm to any table setting, whether a romantic dinner for two or a full-scale dinner party. Even plain table wine seems a little more special when presented thoughtfully. The ceramic wine bottle holders above from Ceramiche Bartoloni give a delicious touch to your place setting, with hand-painted grapes, lemons and olives. Choose whichever fits your (or your friend’s) décor best.

Of course, a ceramic wine bottle holder can do more than just hold wine. Use it for cooking utensils like spoons and spatulas near the stove. Or add flowers to this ceramic wine bottle holder by Talavera Vazquez with its bold black and white chevron pattern.

Whether it’s a gift for your wine-enthusiast friend or for yourself, a ceramic wine bottle holder is a practical way to add elegance to the table throughout the year. Care for another glass?

Wine glass image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.

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