The best Christmas gift for a wine lover might not be wine

by Jack Chapman

Zalto champane glasses christmas tree

What do I buy for the overly particular wine lover in my life? Is a statement which I expect is issued forth by almost every person in line (all three of them) to buy me a gift, every Christmas. Do you buy them wine? Perhaps. We all love to get it, but it can also be akin to a white-knuckle sensation – the similar cold sweat which breaks out when confronted with a charging herd of cattle, an angry bear, or a traffic warden can bead on ones forehead at the chance of getting it wrong.

So what do you do for someone who fits in this bracket?

My advice – buy them wine ware.

What on earth is wine ware? I hear you ask. Is it some sort of outfit which I have to put on, because that’s really I’m not entirely comfortable with, and shouldn’t it be reserved for Valentine’s day..? No. It’s all the fun things which really improve the experience of enjoying wine.

In particular, if you’re stuck for a gift, then please – from one wine lover to another, buy that person Zalto glasses. It sounds boring, but when I first started in this merry trade, I was introduced to the idea of the Riedel ‘Chardonnay’ glass. A preposterous idea in my mind, that a glass could really change the smell and taste of a wine. What a waste of money. A week later, I’d bought 12…

Riedel Range

Riedel glassware

Browse our Riedel Glass Collection here.

A few years after this, at the wonderfully wine-centric club, 67 Pall Mall, I discovered Zalto. It took me a while to forsake my Riedel Collection (about a month, with a few ‘accidental’ breakages to justify it) – but I was a total convert.

Glassware makes a huge difference to how you enjoy the liquid in it. You may have consciously noticed this, you may not, but you’ll have enjoyed it at some point, and Zalto are the most delicate, wonderful things to drink from – the stem quite literally feels like it’s flexing as you swirl the wine, but it never snaps. Something akin to a suspension cable on a bridge, they feel incredibly fragile, but are remarkably strong (I once watched one fall from a table onto a carpeted floor, then roll to the edge of the room before stopping, intact). Aromas are enhanced by the shape, flavours by the sheer thinness of the glass bulb.

I love Riedel for sort of getting this whole thing going, but Zalto have really knocked them off the top spot. They also come in far more simple shapes, Universal, Burgundy and Bordeaux, rather than having to worry about specifically having your glasses for each grape. Something even I, as a stemware obsessive, found tiresome.

Zalto Glassware

Zalto Glassware

Browse our Zalto Glass Collection here.

So, there it is, the best advice I may give all festive season. Buy a person a bottle of wine and they may have enjoyment for a day, teach them about Zalto glasses and they’ll have greater enjoyment of wine for the rest of their lives.

 If that person already has Zalto glasses, or indeed you’re looking for something else to go with them, then do explore our ‘gifts and gadgets’ page on the L&S website – a Coravin, a WineSave or one of the carefully selected titles in our range of books are all things that any wine lover will be over the moon to receive.