"I want a Chuck Berry record, and a picture of Elvis, too…"

by Katie Pizzuto on December 8, 2009

in holiday gifts

It’s that time of year again, when I feel compelled to make a few gift-giving suggestions to the holiday-purchase challenged. I can only speak for myself here, but we can only store so many funky corkscrews and display so many reindeer bottle toppers before our home starts looking like some sort of weird S&M Christmas Den. In fact, this may be the one post you ask your loved ones to read so that no more “store them in the attic until they come to visit” gifts work their way to you. Wine would, of course, be the easiest and most logical of gifts to give, but being on the receiving end of a critter label gift pack is about as gratitude inducing as a pair of pink wool socks. Few people are daring enough to ask for wine as a gift, and fewer yet are ballsy enough to go ahead and actually attempt to buy for the family wine snob—I’m sorry, I mean aficionado. That being said, here are a few cool items I came across this year:

Gallo Be Thy Name (by Jerome Tuccille) – If you’re tired of listening to the wine dweeb in the family, waxing eloquent about the ethereal qualities of pinot noir or droning on about why they don’t like oaked chardonnay, this is the book to get them. Gallo is a dynasty stained by murder, crime, mob connections, abuse, painful secrets, tragedy, union mayhem and an unshakeable determination to dominate the wine market at any and all costs. Tuccille tells the immigrant story of a family that rose from abject poverty to absolute power. A family that survived Prohibition by selling “Dago Red” to Al Capone, only to conquer the US market with brands like Thunderbird, Ripple and Boone’s Farm all the while with a rushing undercurrent of greed and ruthlessness. It’s an epic tale of the elusive pursuit of success in the “Land of Opportunity.” Buy Here

Funky Chunks Gourmet Wine & Chocolate Soap Gift Box – The only thing better than smelling like a fudgy brownie might just be smelling like a vineyard of ripe syrah grapes. Funky Chunks specializes in Bastille soap chunks made with 70% olive oil…no synthetic detergents and preservatives that can irritate and dry out your skin. They use recycled paper and cardboards for their packaging, and also use recycled and reclaimed items in production in an effort to consciously reduce their carbon footprint. They are also 100% vegan friendly. This gift box contains two chunks of soap and a bath scrubbie. The “Syrah Vin Savon” carries the scent of wine grapes with hints of boysenberry, blackberry and chocolate; the “Fudgy Brownie” smells of decadent bittersweet chocolate, blended together with warm vanilla and sweet cream, then topped off with smooth fudge sauce. Buy Here

Uncorked Gifts – I’m in the midst of getting one of these custom-made with the Gonzo Gastronomy art, so I thought I’d pass the idea along. Must be a Jersey Girl sort of holiday because both Funky Chunks and Uncorked reside in my home state. Uncorked makes bookmarkers, necklaces, earrings and other gadgets with imprinted recycled corks. They all ship in a cool test tube and as I said, if you have your own artwork or writing you want put on the cork, custom orders are no problem. Buy Here

7 Deadly Glasses – This one speaks to the überdork in all of us, and though most will probably find these gifts outside their holiday budget, I just couldn’t resist. Each of these wine glasses is based on one of the 7 deadly sins. Which is which? That is revealed only through the ritual of drinking, something not likely to happen with either “wrath” or “envy” if you take a close look at how they are designed. Each is handmade and thus obviously a limited edition, but damn, aren’t these things amazing?! The thought of having these all to set up on display makes this wine geek more than a little lustful. Buy Here

Liddabit Sweets – These aren’t as much for the wino as they are for the foodie, but a few of their decadent caramels are made with local craft brews…can’t go wrong there, can you? I fell in love with the two ladies that run this company when I first met them at the New Amsterdam Market in NYC. Much like the restaurants out there focusing on seasonal cuisine, Liddabit does the same by sourcing only sustainably produced, fresh, superior-quality ingredients. They also support local growers and producers (they’re in Brooklyn) and make all their sweets by hand. My favorite (and many others’ apparently since it has a cult-like following) is without question the Beer & Pretzel Caramel. Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale and East India Pale Ale are reduced and then stirred into the caramel with chunks of Martin’s pretzels. You get sweet, salty, bitter, crunchy and gooey all in one glorious bite. Hell, even the wrapper you hastily tear into to get to that ultimate caramel smells like heaven. Buy Here

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linsey December 8, 2009

sorry Katie – I have bought urs already lol


2 Elle December 9, 2009

Love these ideas! I can vouch for Funky Chunks–their soaps are wonderful!


3 castello December 9, 2009

Gallo is still buying up wineries all over the world. UGH.


4 The Wine Commonsewer December 10, 2009

Gallo is no longer numero uno, however.


5 Katie Pizzuto December 10, 2009

Does it really matter who’s numero uno at this point? Where one giant falters another giant takes the throne. A great read though, wouldn’t you say, Mike?!


6 Linsey December 10, 2009

i love that glass – i clicked on the site to see the others – do wonder how you drink out of some though


7 Anthony December 10, 2009

This is a little something, a poem if u will, after a long time of knowing and interacting with Katie

Here it goes.

More and more I read
Almost as a feed
Finding my way through
A writers undying love

Realizing a passions gift
Never lost or adrift
Indeed, wonderous and free
For all a must see

Katie that was wriiten for you. I was reading and some words came to my mind and wanted share it with all the readers here.

Love Anthony


8 Katie Pizzuto December 10, 2009

@Linsey…they’re really more works of art than they are drinking vessels. Being both an artist and a wine geek, I’m doubly envious 🙂

@Anthony…that has truly made my day, you’ve no idea. Eternal thanks for the beautiful words.


9 Anthony December 12, 2009

Those “7 deadly sins” glasses are awesome! I like the greed one the best. Keep up the good work, your blogs are fun to read!

Have you by chance heard of St. James Winery at all? It’s my local winery, and they are started to get recognized and receiving awards at every competition they have been to. Anyway, if you want to check them out, here’s a link:



10 Linsey December 13, 2009

I like the ‘pride’ one best personally i love the way the glass is separate from the base.

Not so keen on the ‘envy’ one though I dont like the bubble effect.

Even though I am not a wine drinker I still love a nice glass. You just cant beat drinking out of a good quality glass.

Anthony – do you remember the glass you loved in Haworth, England – that was an elegant wine glass.


11 Katie Pizzuto December 14, 2009

Thanks for the link, Anthony. I’ve yet to try any midwest wines (where exactly are you out of?)…but looking forward to it as many more states are deserving of attention!

@Lin…I like lust myself…very ironic.


12 Anthony December 15, 2009

@ Linsey: Yes I remember the glass very well in Haworth England. I loved it so much that the owner of the restaraunt wouldnt let it go. I offered money and a purchase of an entire bottle of wine. They told me NOOOOOOOO We also ate there and the food was extremely good.


13 Linsey December 15, 2009

Yeah nice meal – not as nice as that small place up the hill though – boring decoration – but the food mmmmmmmmmmmm so good!


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