Christmas ideas for wine lovers

This week I spent some time with Cindy Wilkes and Dave Steadman, the owners of The Wine Establishment. The purpose was to collect ideas for my annual Christmas shopping list for wine lovers.

For those who don’t know this store, it is one of the longest-running wine supply operations in Toronto.  The store is found in one of the original loft conversions at the end of The Esplanade in downtown Toronto, where the street meets Berkeley Street, off a courtyard adjacent to the Berkeley Castle building.

This business has been built and maintained by staying true to a sound strategy of properly serving wholesale and retail customers consistently well: good products and good value, professionally delivered.

The main business of The Wine Establishment is custom cellars and supply of storage, glassware and incentive items to the hospitality industry and commercial clients, along with custom cellars for the homes of wine collectors.  These activities support the retail storefront operation which sells all sorts of wine accessories and storage supplies to consumers.  The selection in the store is wide with every major brand and the latest gizmos available.

I went to the store on a rainy, mid-week afternoon when I expected things would be quiet and as a result had a dedicated walk-through of Cindy and Dave’s suggestions

Two things stood out for me.

First, glassware continues to evolve on the foundation built by Reidel over the past several years.  This isn’t to say Reidel isn’t still the leader in glassware innovation but it is to say that other makers are finding niches to exploit.

The second observation is the market is moving up – in price and sophistication, that is.  You can still find stocking-stuffers for under $20.00 but most gift items will easily fall into the major purchase category.

RESIStech wine glasses

This is a new line of stemware available in 4 shapes, including a sparkling wine flute.

RESIStech wine glassware

The rims are thin, the shapes stylish and the glasses are durable.  All these factors, along with an attractive price make these the perfect stemware for parties or every day use. These glasses are warranted for 25 years against discoloration and chipping and are made of lead-free crystal. All four shapes are available in boxes of 4 glasses for $29.95 per box.

Nuance Wine Finer –

Last year I reported on a novel drip-less wine pouring device which featured a filtration and aerating capability in a sleek elongated

Nuance Wine Finer 2011 edition

black and stainless device – this was the first incarnation of the Nuance Finer.  The folks at Nuance have refined last year’s version (which is still available at $29.95) with a stainless steel edition that delivers the same multi-function capabilities of its older sibling in an even more elegant package. This would be a perfect and memorable hostess gift at $39.95.



Code 38 corkscrews –

For years the name French knife-maker, Laguiole, has been the reference for high-quality, precision corkscrews.  These devices come in all price ranges and finishes and the very high-end corkscrews are a delight to use.  They operate with ease, the materials are top-end and, except for the risk of cutting yourself with the sharp knife-edge capsule cutter, they work flawlessly.  Well, there’s a new kid on the block, a kid who looks like he drives a Porsche.  His name is Code 38 and he is made for

Code 38 Stealth

the modern wine lover who lives in a burnished stainless and titanium world. The Code 38 line of corkscrews comprises four models which are price-competitive with the top-of-the-line Laguiole units.  Code 38 prides itself on material, finishes and precision so if you or your spouse/partner is in the market for a new wine toy, this may be the answer. Wine Establishment prices are less than those reported on the Code 38 website and range from $225 for the Origine to $410 for the top-of-the-line Stealth model (shown in the picture). Please note, the Porsche is not included…

Euro Cave V292 Wine Cellar –

Over the years many readers have told me they are building a cellar of collectible wines and they frequently ask me, what is the best cellar maker?  The field of stand-alone cellars has mushroomed over the past 10 years as specialty firms have been met with growing competition from major appliance makers and engineering firms which have entered this market in the meantime. This means there is not a simple answer to the question of which cellar is the best.  I have found it makes good sense to spend some money on the right cellar.  It will pay dividends in piece of mind, reliability and

ACMS sliding shelf

esthetics.  For many, the cellar is a showpiece in their home, often in the kitchen where it is both convenient and shrine-like in its majesty…The Euro Cave model is a single-temperature wine maturing cabinet that sells for C$5495 (plus $275.00 delivery charge) and is a stunning piece of furniture which will hold 168 bottles of 750 ml and 6 magnums. This is a sleek beauty which features a new Euro Cave feature: the ACMS sliding shelf.  This is a proprietary design that seats each bottle in the Hand of the Sommelier bottle support.  This maximizes bottle stability and air flow and ensures even temperature and humidity throughout the cellar.  If you have been thinking about a cellar this would be a model to investigate.

More information on these products can be found at the website for the Wine Establishment.

There is one wine tool I didn’t see on my tour of new items at The Wine Establishment: the Bosch IXO Vino opener.  Check it out here: This is the gift for the wino who has everything…and who may need a device to assemble IKEA furniture from time to time! It even comes with a light and a wooden box for gifting and storage.


Disclaimer: I have no business or financial- interest in The Wine Establishment and I have received no compensation for this article.  I recommend this business because I am a satisfied customer, and have been a satisfied customer for or several years.

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2011.

Author: John Switzer

I am wine writer, educator and tour guide. From 2005 to June 2014 I published a bi-weekly newsletter, the Winesights Vintages Newsletter (WVN). This Newsletter was closed in July 2014 when the Government of Canada put in place the onerous administrative requirements of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation. The legacy of WVN continues on this blog spot where I post wine-related articles as well as reviews of a small selection of best-value wines from each bi-weekly LCBO Vintages release. I hold the WSET Diploma, I am a WSET Certified Educator, I teach in the WSET program at the Independent Wine Education Guild in Toronto where I am the past Director of the WSET Diploma program. Since 2010 I have been a judge at Decanter World Wine Awards on the Rhône panel and I am a member of the Society of Wine Educators.

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