Holiday Gift Guide (and a giveaway)

holiday gift guide 2015 giveaway insolence + wine

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As I am sitting here recovering from a food coma, I’m looking ahead to gift-buying and meal-planning for Hanukah and Christmas. A few years ago, I took over the majority of the cooking for family holidays (from my grandmother) and I have yet to really re-live my first attempt at my Grandmother's Prime Rib and Yorkshire pudding recipe. I've always been more confident with desserts (a few of my favorites will be popping up in the upcoming newsletter, so sign up if you haven't already!) Growing up, we always opened presents on Christmas Eve (a German tradition) and enjoyed our big fancy dinner on Christmas Day. I guess I never realized how hard that roast was, and my confidence ended up biting me you-know-where. Lesson learned. I'll always remember the year I figured out that Santa wasn't real. (Sorry dad, you ruined it for me!) 

In years past, I’ve gone the easy route: clothes, gift cards and tickets to sporting events or concerts. This year, I’m doing my best to give friends and family things that they actually need (and want), but perhaps wouldn’t buy for themselves. After last year, the one thing I learned is that people always seem to enjoy anything from Sur La Table and gifts of wine.

Before I go into our first ever gift guide, I thought I'd use this opportunity to announce an upcoming giveaway celebrating the upcoming holiday season. Simply leave us a comment in this post, sharing your favorite holiday traditions or memories or what you're looking forward to most this year. You get bonus points for leaving us a comment on Facebook, telling us all about your worst holiday disaster. The winner will be able to choose between a set of four stemless or stemmed-glasses!

holiday presents wine glass giveaway insolence + wine

The Cook

I always find that the cooks in the family are the easiest (and most expensive) to shop for. The Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circulator (currently $149, normally $200) is probably the one item that I'm most excited about, and you should be, too. Without having to use the stovetop, simply attach this neat gadget to the side of your pot, select a setting, drop your food into the water (in a plastic bag) and let it work it's magic. Rumor has it that it cooks perfectly every time, which means this would be a perfect gift for the novice cook still gaining confidence in their cooking ability. Le Creuset is a brand of cookware that belongs in every kitchen ($999). A great set of knives is always appreciated and the past year, I've fallen in love with our Shun knives ($279).

Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circulator
Le Creuset Signature Cherry 10-Piece Set
Shun Classic 3�Piece Set

The Entertainer

If you have a friend or family member who loves to host dinners, these cheese markers are affordable, easy to read and eye-catching ($16). One can never have too many serving platters, and these ones nest inside one another, which makes storage a breeze ($25). Attractive serving pieces always photograph well, and this Olivewood serving board is quite unusual, sure to please just about anyone ($17).

Wooden Cheese Markers
Blanc Rectangular Platters
Olivewood Slice Serving Board

For Wine Lovers

Does your sister serve her wine in plastic cups? Buy her a set of wine glasses ($30). Does your best friend love wine so much that she’d swoon over wine bottle-shaped cookies ($1.95)? Or does your uncle Bob think that decanting wine is wasteful? This carafe is easy to use, simply attach it to the open bottle, decant and aerate it into the carafe ($50). He can then decide if he wants to serve the wine from the bottle or from the carafe (which also safely stores wine over night!)

Stemless Wine Glasses
Wine Bottle Cookie Cutter
Menu Wine Breather Carafe

Wine Clubs: four years ago, I received a wine club membership for Christmas from one of my (then) favorite wineries and it’s because of that first six-bottle shipment that this very blog exists today. If you’re purchasing a wine club membership for someone else, consider how adventurous the recipient is when it comes to trying new wine. If you only see them drinking Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, your money will be better spent elsewhere. 

The Passport wine club gives the lucky recipient flexibility to choose to receive three, six or twelve bottles monthly from wineries around the world. Curious about wines from South Africa or have you heard them say they wanted to try another wine from South America that isn’t a Malbec? 

Similar to the Passport Wine Club, the Cellar Treasures Club offers the flexibility of three, six or twelve bottles per shipment. The Treasures Club however offers wine that comes from very small lots or has been discontinued (sold out vintage)—a great way to build up a wine collection with unique wines.

If you don’t want to splurge on a wine club, consider the Mystery Cellar Treasures bundle, which also offers small lot and discontinued wines. I've purchased two of these packs and have been very happy with the quality of the wines I've tried. Normally priced at $250, swoop up on this gem now for only $150—that's right, a $100 dollar savings plus free shipping.

Recently, Sur La Table launched their very own wine club and unlike Williams-Sonoma wine club, they’re exclusively shipping wines from DeLille Cellars in Washington State. DeLille Cellars is one of my personal favorite wineries outside of California after visiting years ago. Four Flags is one of my favorite wines—it combines four Cabernet Sauvignon’s from different vineyards in the same AVA (we have a piece coming soon explaining exactly what AVA means if you’re sitting there scratching your head with confusion). It’s unlike anything we’ve ever tasted and it’s something that most wine drinkers would enjoy having in their cellar. This wine club from Sur La Table and DeLille Cellars offers three separate wine clubs: Admirer, a two bottle club shipment twice a year (average shipment is $80); Enthusiast Club, a four bottle shipment twice a year (average shipment is $160); Collector Club, a six bottle shipment twice a year, including reserve wines (average shipment is $364).

If you don’t want to commit to a wine club, they also offer two bottle bundles (whites {$68}, reds {$81} and mixed {$78.}

The Beauty Guru

It's no secret that I love Caudalie products, and if you know someone who is dying to try some of their groundbreaking products, consider the mask trio ($39) or the Premier Cru Anti Aging Set ($99).

caudalie mask trio
caudalie premier cru set

Which of these products are you writing down on your holiday wish list? What do you think of the Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circular? Do you know anyone who would love getting that this year?