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Gift baskets are perfect for sending a nice surprise with a delivery full of goodies.
You can pick unique boxes to send, including a salami or ice cream basket.
If you’d rather not send food, there are plenty of other subscription boxes to choose from.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
A gift basket is a common and easy gift to give to a client, host, or in-laws, but all too often, they’re filled with uninspiring, bland items.
A great gift basket includes a large quantity of high-quality items that have been curated around your giftee’s interests and tastes. Whether you’re planning to gift food, coffee, or seasoning-filled baskets, you’ll want to make sure they’ll use every item. We’ve gathered 24 unique gift baskets, including a salami bouquet, a bucket of candy, and even ice cream. Many of our picks contain perishable items, which means they ship quickly.
However, we recommend checking the estimated delivery date closely before purchasing to ensure they’ll arrive in time for your purposes. Check out our other gift guides here if you’re looking for more ideas.
Here are 24 gift baskets to treat your loved ones:
Perfect for a hot summer day, the Spoonful of Sunshine box will light up the recipient. This lemon-filled basket comes with sparkling lemonade, lemon cookies, two mason jars with straws, and a serving tray shaped like a lemon.
A truly unique gift for someone in your life who enjoys trying wild flavor concoctions, these bitters can be used in cooking, baking, or cocktail creations. The set of three comes in floral maple, aromatic maple, and orange maple flavors.
This box of spicy pickles is perfect for someone who likes a good amount of spice added to their food. There are five jars of hot pickles included in this gift set, including chile, jalapeño, and spicy dill.
We love snacking on the savory and sweet popcorn from Popcornopolis. The delicious popcorn comes in five flavors (zebra, caramel, cheddar cheese, cinnamon toast, and kettle) and is wrapped up in distinctive striped cones.
It’s usually hard to gift ice cream without it showing up at the door as a melted mess. Thankfully, Goldbelly packs all its gift kits with dry ice. Your recipient can enjoy this sundae kit of four ice cream pints and four toppings including, chocolate candies, rainbow and chocolate sprinkles, and gummy bears. You can choose four flavors from the 21 types of ice cream available.
This salami arrangement will likely be one of the most unique gifts they’ve ever received. The pork salami comes from Oregon and will help them craft extravagant charcuterie boards. Your bouquet can include three or six salamis.
A coffee sampler of best-sellers and customer favorites
East Coast coffee shop favorite La Colombe offers coffee enthusiasts unique blends of coffee in multiple grind options. If they don’t live in one of the six states with La Colombe locations or if you just want to treat them to a coffee shop experience right at home, gifting them this sampler will help them easily choose their new favorites.
If they choose wines based on what they’re eating and love to try new flavors, In Good Taste’s Wild Child Flight will be the perfect gift as it offers non-traditional wine flavors such as black currant, pineapple, fig, and black cherry. Each flight includes eight tasting bottles and every purchase comes with a complimentary interactive virtual wine tasting.
A variety bucket filled with sour flavored candies
This giant bucket is the perfect gift for those that never grew out of their sweet tooth and includes sour belts, sour gummy bears and worms, and more. The retailer also offers other fun options such as its movie night-themed gift basket.
This gift box contains everything they’ll need to craft the perfect cocktail. The set includes two engraved glasses, premium cocktail cherries, metal straws, and most importantly a pair of round ice molds so your recipient can avoid watered-down, bland drinks.
If they’re always looking for ways to add new flavors to their meals, this seasoning starter pack is a great place to start. This set includes unique blends of savory, tingly, and spicy seasoned salts as well as chili crunch, and restaurant-grade tamari and soy sauces.
Bokksu works directly with snack makers in Japan, so your recipient won’t be able to find these unique and delicious treats here. Every month’s box has a different theme and contains 20 to 25 snacks, as well as a tea pairing. The first box is called, “Seasons of Japan” and will feature snacks from every season of the year.
It’ll be hard to decide what to eat first from this trio of Milk Bar favorites — will it be the moist birthday cake truffles, buttery Milk Bar pie, or the chewy cookies in creative flavors like Blueberry & Cream?
Expand their charcuterie horizons with this box of dried and cured duck meats, including duck rillettes, duck prosciutto, smoked duck breast, and duck saucisson sec. There’s also a rich black truffle foie gras, which goes well with some bread.
They’ll definitely want to reuse this spacious woven tote, which contains savory and sweet spreads (like artichoke lemon pesto), crackers and flatbread, and an olive wood knife. It’s a gourmet splurge, but a beautifully packaged one at that.
If they crave a mild cheese, there’s a manchego. For a sharper edge, try the cheddar. There’s also an aged gruyere and creamy mini brie. To go along with this sampler of Murray’s Cheese’s popular varieties, there are cherry preserves, crackers, and almonds in the box as well.
Tea Drops are tea leaves that come in fun shapes such as hearts, flowers, and stars. As the name suggests, simply drop the packed tea leaves into boiling water to create a cup of tea. The tea kit contains both caffeinated and non-caffeinated varieties.
Your favorite food stand from the mall offers a box of 48 bite-sized cookies, 30 brownie bites, and eight regular cookies that arrives right at their door. It wouldn’t be a “Sunshine” box without four frosted sun cookies.
A snack box that travels to a different country every month
If you know that they’re open to treats from all over the world, gift a box from Universal Yums. They can travel the world and sample sweet and savory snacks from countries such as Greece, Indonesia, Colombia, and Italy.
If you have a taste for 100-year-old champagne – and a bit of cash to spare – you may be in luck.
877 bottles of champagne and burgundy wine with vintages dating between 1911 and 1943 are being auctioned by Acker, the largest wine auction house in the world, on Wednesday and Thursday, CNBC first reported.
There are more than 900 separate lots of the rare bubbly being sold, which is expected to sell for a whopping $10 million. The variations of champagne include “323 magnums, 10 Jeroboams, two Methuselahs and 30 half-bottles,” CNBC reported.
In total, the collection could go for over $10 million.
“The bottles offered in this sale are truly the cream of this collection,” Acker Chairman, John Kapon, told CNBC. “To offer such depth and breadth of Salon, Krug, Bollinger, Louis Roederer, Pol Roger and Pommery back to the 1920s, and Moet & Chandon back to the 1910s, is truly a rare privilege for myself as an auctioneer.”
The auctioneer told CNBC that there was “a significant effort” put into the vetting of the 100-year-old collection of wines. Kapon said, “any bottles deemed to have suboptimal color or conditions were removed.”
With the right equipment, making your own cocktails at home is easier than you’d think.
If you’re making a cocktail with citrus juice, egg whites, or cream, you’ll need a cocktail shaker to fully combine all the ingredients. “Ultimately, shaking lightens a drink – both through dilution and aeration – so it works better for fresher, brighter drinks (sours, fizzes),” said Ryan Chetiyawardana, the Global Bar Innovator of international hospitality company Lore Group and founder of cocktail bar Silver Lyan.
Cocktail shakers come in two forms. A Boston shaker is what you see professional bartenders slinging at your favorite cocktail bar. It’s made up of two metal tins that are jammed together to create a natural seal, and you usually have to buy the measuring jigger and strainer separately. A cobbler shaker, on the other hand, has three pieces: a metal tin (sometimes with interior measuring lines), cap, and built-in strainer.
The bartenders we spoke to unequivocally recommend Boston shakers because they’re light, durable, and chill their contents quickly. After testing, we also prefer Boston shakers, but some people like cobbler shakers for their built-in parts and attractive look so we’ve included both styles to give you the full range of options.
As for how to shake, everyone develops their own style – just don’t be shy about shaking aggressively, and shake long enough (usually about 15 seconds) for the tin to frost up. According to Jarrett Holborough of 12 Cocktail Bar, “you can shake your cocktail any way as long as your ice is hitting all four sides of the tin.” Find more cocktail shaking tips and cocktail shaker FAQs answered here and learn how to use a shaker in this 5-minute video below:
To test the best cocktail shakers, we made daiquiris (a standard test for bartenders) and blood orange whiskey sours with each contender, comparing cocktail smoothness, temperature, and volume. We also evaluated the ease of use, seal tightness, and durability of each shaker. See our full testing methodology here. After many cocktails made and enjoyed, we determined the top four cocktail shakers for home bartending.
We made one daiquiri and one blood orange whiskey sour (recipes below) in each cocktail shaker. For each cocktail, we noted and compared the following:
Taste, consistency, and smoothness: Whether the ingredients were incorporated evenly and if the cocktail tasted balanced.
Temperature: How cold the cocktail was after shaking.
Volume: The final volume after shaking, to see the effect of the shaker on ice melt and dilution.
An example of our test results:
OXO Steel Cocktail Shaker
Cold, didn’t seem to mix all the ingredients super evenly – some sips were very rum-y while others were more citrusy
Volume: ⅝ cup
Really thick (too thick) and even foam, smooth, cold, again didn’t seem to mix all ingredients super evenly
Volume: 1 cup (lot of dilution?)
To test seal strength and overall durability, we filled each shaker with 5 oz. water and ½ cup of ice, created a tight seal or closed the lid (depending on whether it was a Boston or cobbler shaker), and dropped it on concrete ground from shoulder height three times. We noted if the seal broke, scratches and dings to the shaker, and other durability issues.
To test ease of use, we noted the size, weight, feel, comfort, and any leakage of each shaker.
Daiquiri recipe used:
2 ounces light rum (Bacardi)
1 ounce lime juice (fresh-squeezed)
¾ ounces simple syrup
½ cup ice
Blood orange whiskey sour recipe used:
2 ounces whiskey (Kikori)
1.5 ounces blood orange juice (Stirrings)
0.5 ounces lemon juice (fresh-squeezed)
1 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
½ cup ice
The best cocktail shaker overall
Beloved by bartenders everywhere, Cocktail Kingdom’s no-frills Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins create consistently smooth and cold cocktails. The tins fit together well to create a leak-free seal and they’re comfortable to hold and shake.
Pros: Doesn’t leak, light and sturdy construction, frosts up quickly, practical size, affordable
Cons: Strainer and jigger not included, exterior may get uncomfortably cold
The Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins look deceptively simple, but as is the case with many of the best products out there, straightforward, thoughtful design and durable construction lead to top results.
In our cocktail making tests, the tins evenly mixed all the ingredients, taking the harsh edge off liquor and bringing out the subtle brightness of citrus juices. The final daiquiri and whiskey sour were mellow, balanced, and delicious.
The two tins fit well together with little effort, no aggressive jamming necessary. They never leaked while shaking, and even after I dropped them a few times from shoulder height, their seal stayed intact. These drops led to light scuffing and tiny dings, but nothing substantial. The tins were also the easiest to pop open after shaking.
It only takes a couple seconds of shaking for the tins to frost up, and the contents get really cold: it made the coldest daiquiri and the second-coldest whiskey sour of all the contenders. The tins themselves are lightweight and comfortable to shake, but they can get uncomfortably cold since there’s no added insulation.
If you’re looking for efficiency and ease of use, Koriko’s tins deliver. Keep in mind that you still need to buy a strainer and jigger separately. They also come in gold-plated, copper-plated, and matte black versions if you like those styles, but they’re not dishwasher-safe.
The best cobbler cocktail shaker
The sturdy BrüMate Shaker is triple-insulated to provide a condensation-free shaking experience and keep your cocktail cold in case you don’t drink it right away. It also doubles as a tumbler and comes with a lid for convenient enjoyment.
Pros: Doubles as drinking vessel, triple-insulated, built-in strainer, variety of colors
Cons: Doesn’t come with jigger, strainer doesn’t always catch small pieces of citrus and ice
The Brümate Shaker and Tumbler was the most durable and substantial cobbler shaker we tried that also didn’t leak. It gets its contents really cold and decently integrated (though not as much as our Boston shaker picks).
I loved that the triple-insulated walls kept the exterior comfortably dry as I shook the shaker. Usually, frost is an immediate indication of whether the drink is getting cold enough. It’s hard to tell by feel alone with the Brümate, but in our temperature tests, it got just as cold as drinks made in non-insulated shakers.
Unfortunately, the cap doesn’t double as a jigger, like with some cobbler shakers, but there is a built-in strainer. All the parts fit together well and don’t leak during shaking or pouring. For my whiskey sour test, the strainer didn’t catch the smallest pieces of lemon and ice. It’s not the biggest deal breaker if you don’t need the most perfect drink every time; just know your cocktail may have stray ice or citrus from time to time.
This shaker is great for casual or outdoor drinking if you want to drink directly from the vessel rather than pouring it out into a new glass. Because of the insulation, it’ll stay cold, and it comes with a lid to protect your drink. The bottom is reinforced with a non-slip grip material to prevent spills whether it’s set on a kitchen countertop or outdoor deck.
If you drop the shaker while shaking, it will break apart and spill the contents on the floor. However, the actual parts are strong and won’t suffer any damage.
The best cocktail shaker on a budget
Low-cost materials and a flawed jigger design prevent the OXO Good Grips Cocktail Shaker from reaching full effectiveness. It makes a cold, integrated cocktail, but we’d only recommend it if you don’t want to spend more than $10 or don’t make cocktails often.
Pros: Affordable, lightweight, easy to shake, double-insulated, built-in strainer
Cons: Materials aren’t durable, strainer doesn’t always catch small pieces of citrus and ice, jigger design is messy and doesn’t include useful measurements
It can be pricey to build a bar cart of equipment and ingredients. Whether you’re a casual entertainer who doesn’t anticipate daily happy hours at home or you’re new to cocktail making and don’t want to splurge right away, OXO’s Good Grips Shaker is a solid, budget-friendly option. If you’re more serious about home bartending, we recommend investing in one of our other picks.
The shaker is comfortable to hold and the top section is coated with a non-slip material, making it even more difficult for your hands to lose their grip as you’re shaking. Since it’s made from plastic instead of the usual stainless steel, it’s light and easy to shake.
Surprisingly, this shaker, despite being made of plastic, also got the contents really cold. The final cocktails didn’t taste as smooth or balanced, and that’s likely because there isn’t enough space for all the ice and ingredients to move around in the small shaker. Still, they didn’t taste bad at all.
The cap has handy (in theory) measurement markings for ¾ oz., 1 oz., and 1.5 oz. I would’ve found it even more useful if it had a ½ oz. marking, which is also common in recipes. In addition, the 1.5 oz. mark sits too closely to the top edge of the conical cap, meaning you have to be extra careful and slow as you pour ingredients in or they risk spilling out. Lastly, if you do choose to use the cap as a jigger, it could make the rest of the shaker slightly sticky once you flip it over and reattach it as a cap.
The best cocktail shaker for beginners
Enter the world of cocktail making confidently with the Crafthouse by Fortessa Boston Shaker Set, which is designed by a professional bartender with typical user pain points in mind. It comes with an effective Hawthorne strainer, which means less shopping around for individual parts.
Pros: Designed by an expert, doesn’t leak, frosts up quickly, sturdy construction, includes strainer
Cons: Jigger not included, harder to pop open than the Koriko
For the uninitiated, the Crafthouse tins feel approachable since they’re a little smaller than average, ergonomic, and conveniently include a well-made strainer.
Like the Koriko tins, this Crafthouse set helps make consistently smooth, cold, and delicious cocktails. It’s a little heavier and thicker than the Koriko, but I liked that the bottoms have ridges to provide a better grip while shaking. The tins fit into each other well but were slightly harder to release from each other than the Koriko set.
The tins frost up within a couple seconds of shaking and get really cold, in fact yielding the coldest whiskey sour of all the contenders (29°F). It also produced a nice, even layer of foam that wasn’t too thin. While shaking, there was no leakage, and the tins didn’t break apart in my drop tests.
The included Hawthorne strainer was also excellent: the coils fit inside and the wings fit over the large tin comfortably, and all the tiny holes strained the contents completely. You can complete the set with the jigger, which is two-sided and has all the appropriate and common measurements.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
Barfly Basics Cocktail Shaker Set: We loved the look and sturdy construction of this complete Boston shaker set (includes a jigger, bar spoon, and strainer), though the shaker tins are less flexible and more difficult to pop open. They made smooth and cold drinks that tasted a bit brighter and citrus-forward than other contenders and didn’t leak during shaking or pouring.
Huckberry Elevated Cocktail Shaker: This 25-oz. cobbler shaker is large, rugged, and able to make up to four drinks at a time. Its measuring cap only measures in 1 oz. increments, and it was the only cobbler shaker we tried that had a screw-on top, which guaranteed against leakage. Though it mixed drinks evenly, we think it’s ultimately best for travel or group situations due to the design.
What we don’t recommend and why
OXO Steel Cocktail Shaker: OXO’s sturdier steel shaker option leaks a lot during both shaking and pouring, unless you hold it closely and carefully at the seam. It’s too much of a sticky mess to deal with when you can get more versatile, leak-proof options at the same price — like the Brumate.
What we’re testing next
Cresimo Boston Cocktail Shaker Set: The Cresimo set is popular on Amazon and looks like it could be a Koriko dupe thanks to the similar specs and design. Adding even more value, it comes with a jigger and strainer.
Rabbit Twist-to-Lock Cocktail Shaker: We’re interested in taking a closer look at the twist-to-lock function, which solves the leakage issues of most cobbler shakers. It’s made from double-walled stainless steel that should keep the outside condensation-free while making an icy-cold drink inside.
Cocktail shaker and home bartending FAQs
Why do you need a cocktail shaker in the first place? Can’t you just stir the drink?
“As a general rule of thumb, cocktails that contain only spirits are stirred,” said Charles Joly, a Diageo World Class bartending champion, official bartender for the Oscars and Emmys, and founder of Crafthouse Cocktails. “Stirring chills, dillutes, combines ingredients, and adds texture, but that last point is the big difference. Stirring doesn’t aerate the cocktail like shaking does.”
Stir: Cocktails containing only spirits, like a Negroni, Manhattan, or martini (“Yes, James Bond was wrong, you do not shake a martini,” emphasized Ivy Mix, partner at FIASCO! Wine and Spirits and head bartender and co-owner of cocktail bar Leyenda).
Shake: Cocktails containing citrus, egg white, and other non-alcoholic ingredients, like a daiquiri, whiskey sour, or Cosmopolitan.
What’s the difference between a Boston shaker and a cobbler shaker? Which one is better?
A Boston shaker has two parts — two tins that you push together to create a natural seal. The measuring jigger and strainer are distinct parts and may be sold separately or as part of a larger Boston shaker set. A cobbler shaker has three parts — one large tin, a much smaller top piece that is screwed on or placed on top and contains a built-in strainer, and a cap. Sometimes the cap or smaller top piece has interior measurement markings so it can double as a jigger.
Functionally, cobbler shakers are more likely to leak and they’re smaller, making it harder to shake and “whip in sufficient amounts of air,” according to Chetiyawardana. But because they have a built-in strainer and you don’t need to learn how to create a natural seal, they may be more approachable and convenient to use for some people.
Boston shakers could have a learning curve because you must place one tin in the other at the correct angle in order to create a tight seal. However, well-designed and sized Boston shaker tins should fit perfectly in each other and are also easy to release. They’re also really durable, and in our durability tests, they suffered the least damage. When dropped on the ground, they hold all the contents in. Even if you have a too-vigorous shaking session and the shaker slips from your hands, your cocktail will still be safe. Like most professional bartenders, we prefer the Boston shaker.
How do you shop for a cocktail shaker? What are the most important features?
Material: Stainless steel is the standard. It’s durable and relatively lightweight, and when shaken with ice, it helps get your drink very cold, very quickly. It’s also easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
Size: Consider how many people you’re making cocktails for in one session. The average Boston shaker tin holds 28 ounces and the average cobbler shaker holds 18-20 ounces to serve one drink. If you regularly entertain, it could be worth looking for a shaker with a larger capacity. And, if you have small hands, look for more narrow tins.
Included accessories: To make a cocktail, you need a shaker, jigger, and strainer. Does the set you’re buying have all three parts? Are you comfortable shopping for a jigger and strainer separately, or would you prefer if they came in the set? A cobbler shaker partly solves this problem because it has a built-in strainer and sometimes the cap has measurement lines.
How do you shake a cocktail shaker? How long do you shake it?
Be vigorous. “The key is you want to shake it awake, not rock it to sleep…I recommend channeling your inner quarterback and really getting some movement in there, being sure to put a hand on the top and the bottom of the shaker so nothing explodes,” said Mix.
Our experts recommended anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds and explained that the exact duration can depend on the ingredients, amount of ice, and specific cocktail. The biggest thing to remember is that you need to shake until the outside frosts up.
For a Boston shaker, insert the small tin into the larger tin at an angle so that you create a flat line on one side. Apply some pressure to seal, and hold the shaker with two hands. “I like to keep my pointer and index finger on the top of the outside tin and my thumb over the top of the tin closest to me,” said Joly.
What brands do bartenders like and use?
“Cocktail Kingdom is tried and true and I also love Charles Joly’s Fortessa Shaker,” said Mix. Holborough also cited Cocktail Kingdom, while Joly recommended Eric Lorinz’ Birdy shaker. Chetiyawardana favors Japanese and German brands in general.
Some final tips and tricks
If using a Boston shaker, shake with the small tin facing you. In case of any leakage, the liquid will land on you instead of your audience.
If you want to make a cocktail but don’t have a shaker on hand, you can always use Tupperware or a jam jar, said Chetiyawardana. “A shaker simply gives you comfort and control.”
Dry shake: Shaking cocktail ingredients together without ice, typically done for cocktails containing egg white or cream. The higher temperature lets the ingredients mix together better and create more aeration, resulting in a thicker foam.
Wet shake: Shaking cocktail ingredients together with ice, which help dilute and chill the drink.
Jigger: A small, usually two-sided measuring cup that you use to measure and pour liquid ingredients. The standard size is 1.5 ounces on one side and 0.75 ounces on the other. There may be additional, smaller markings inside.
Hawthorne strainer: A common type of strainer that is flat and has small holes, a spring on one side, a finger tab or indentation on the other side, and sometimes side wings. It’s placed spring side down over the opening of the shaker.
Muddler: A tool used to mash fruits, herbs, or spices to bring out their flavors. Drinks like mojitos and mint juleps require muddling.
18/8 stainless steel: A type of stainless steel that is made up of 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s extremely resistant to corrosion and commonly used in commercial food processing equipment.
Check out more of our home entertaining guides and stories, including cocktail recipes and where to buy alcohol online
If buying unique wines at wholesale prices and having them delivered to your doorstep sounds ideal, you should check out Nakedwines.com.
The 12-year-old company invests in over 150 indie winemakers around the world and uses a lean business model to bring unique, high-end wines to market for cheap.
For shoppers, Nakedwines.com is a relatively inexpensive way to get good, unique wines sent to their door. For winemakers, it’s kind of like a “Shark Tank” for their industry: They propose a wine, it gets approved, and Nakedwines.com gives them an advance to make it happen. Part of how the company has the funds to operate this way is through over 100,000 voluntary “Angel” customers who act as investors.
Once accepted into the program (and I’d wager every “applicant” is), Angel members invest $40 every month into their Naked Wine piggy bank. This pool of crowdfunded money helps Naked Wine invest in its winemakers, but it’s also never lost to Angel members; the $40 in the virtual piggy bank can be used on their individual wine orders whenever they like – in other words, it’s pretty much like a wine bank account.
If all goes to plan, it’s good for the company, the consumers, and the winemakers – like Carmen Stevens, reportedly South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in wine-making (funded by 2,000 Angel members and $200,000 in eight hours).
To be clear, what you’re getting is not quite a wine subscription in the traditional sense. You can just buy wine directly from the site as you would anywhere else (though you need to order six bottles to ship), but the site’s Angel members get special perks. They save 40-60% on all their orders and get a ton of freebies and perks like samples of other wines included in their deliveries, a bottle of Angel-funded wine worth $20 or more each month they order a case of wine, access to Angel-only wines, invites to wine tastings to meet the winemakers, and access to an exclusive priority hotline for any needed support.
I’d wager most people wind up on the site thanks to a suspiciously generous $100 voucher for new customers – I received mine inside the box of a Bloomingdale’s purchase. Using the voucher, I got a Discovery Case with 12 bottles of wine across a wide spectrum of offerings from the site. With the $100 voucher – which you can also get by clicking the top right-hand button that says “voucher” and entering your email – the case was $79.99, instead of its current sale price of $179.99 (its traditional cost is listed at $264). This promo varies a bit depending on how many bottles are in the box – my colleague redeemed a $50 voucher for six bottles of wine.
In-person, the wines are good. I was satisfied and even a little surprised by their quality given the fact that I received $100 off lots of wine. The affordable bottles were what you’d call “easy drinking” wines – none that were bold and weird and revelatory – but perfect for casual drinking. Nakedwines.com hit the “weekday wine” niche perfectly.
Shipping is also inexpensive. For orders under $100, Nakedwines.com typically charges $10. For orders $100 and more, delivery is free – except for New Jersey, Hawaii, and Alaska, (you can find rates for these states here). Wines will be delivered in four to seven business days (Monday-Friday or Tuesday-Saturday) during regular business hours, but make sure that there is someone over 21 years old who can sign for the package.
One thing I would stress is that if you have any difficulty with your shipment, or you don’t like a wine, you should contact Nakedwines.com for help. My experiences with them were as a consumer rather than a reporter, and I was impressed by their easygoing willingness to make sure I had a positive experience, even when it wasn’t to their immediate advantage. This means that if you really hated a wine, they’ll refund you. The site has a “cast-iron, no questions asked, 100% guarantee.”
What makes Nakedwines.com even more appealing is that it’s also pretty social. Winemakers and members interact with each other. Winemakers get feedback directly from customers, and customers can ask them questions. Indirectly, members can rate and recommend wines to each other.
This communication creates an optional whirlpool of discovery and self-improvement, which is baked into the business from the top down to the granular level of your account; if you don’t like a wine, give it a thumbs down in your Naked Me account. From then on, they’ll help steer you away from wines that taste similar to the ones you didn’t enjoy. Nakedwines.com also uses this as an indirect polling system, helping them determine which winemakers are doing the best job of making wines people really love.
The bottom line
All in all, Nakedwines.com has good wine for an accessible price, with the opportunity to be as involved as you want to be. It’s also easy to cancel right in your online account if you change your mind as opposed to calling or emailing customer service.
If you use Naked as a casual wine drinker, you’ll discover great and affordable wines (even if you don’t take advantage of the $100 off coupon) through an interesting system that makes you feel more involved than just ordering another case of wine online.
You’ve heard of Omaha Steaks. It’s the mail order meat company that sent your boss some filet mignon as a thank you from his boss. Or maybe your uncle has been talking about it ever since he got that one box of steaks back in 1998. Or it’s possible that you saw it advertised in some in-flight magazine.
If you’re like many folks out there, you probably think the company sells quality meats but at prices that put their foods outside of your comfort zone. If you only focus on Omaha Steaks’ packages, like the $299 Butcher’s Backyard Basics or the $159 Build Your Own Holiday Feast complete with pork loin roast, savory sides, and sweet desserts, then yeah, you’d be right. On the other hand, you can also order a box of food from Omaha Steaks for less than $40.
What you get from Omaha Steaks
Try a package of four 5-ounce top sirloin steaks (seasoning included). In other words, you get a fine meal for four people at $12.50 per person. And that, friends, is better pricing than you would find for dinner at most restaurants.
The fact is, until you get into the larger packages or the choicest cuts of meat (Filet mignon costs a lot of money, okay?), ordering food from Omaha Steaks isn’t all that much more expensive than getting it from the grocery store, and the selection and quality are better than what most supermarkets offer.
And ordering your steaks, pork chops, burgers, lobster tails, and all sorts of other meats and sides from this hundred-year-old company is a whole lot cheaper than dining at a steakhouse. With all the variety Omaha Steaks offers, from entrees and sides to desserts and even wine, it can easily become a one-stop online shop for most of your dinner-making needs.
What the food from Omaha Steaks is like
Insider Reviews contributor Steven John tried out a combo called The Best of Omaha Steaks ($60, temporarily sold out), which came with two four-ounce filet mignons, two four-ounce top sirloins, four pork chops, four jumbo franks, four apple tarts, and a seasoning packet for the meats.
He says, “One night, when my brother and his wife and kids were visiting, I cooked up all the steaks and chops, serving three adults (my wife is a vegetarian) and three kids (four were present, but being five months old, my daughter isn’t really eating steak yet). So six people ate, and I still had the hot dogs and tarts for another time. Assuming those would create the centerpiece of another meal for four, we’re talking about 10 servings of food for $60, or $6 a person. Not bad at all.”
Other members of the Insider Reviews team have tried a variety of meat, sides, and desserts from the company. We loved the taste, not to mention the excuse to indulge in dishes like bacon-wrapped sirloin, crispy steakhouse hash browns, and red velvet cake.
Some of the best deals on the site currently are the Stock-Up Packages and Free Shipping Combos, which will help you get all the protein and sides you need to feed your house for a while – all delivered straight to your door.
Convenience and prep
Beyond the value of ordering from Omaha Steaks, there’s plenty to be said for ease of prep.
Everything you get from Omaha Steaks comes carefully wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic, making freezer storage simple and allowing you to choose the exact portions you want each time. On the back of each box, the company provides step-by-step preparation and cooking instructions, which helped Steven grill some of the best steaks he had cooked in months.
Standard shipping costs range from $17.99 to $21.99 depending on your cart total, and there are expedited shipping options available as well. Right now, you can expect your order to be delivered within eight to nine days with standard shipping.
The bottom line
If you don’t have access to a butcher shop, which will generally be the best place to get your meat locally, consider Omaha Steaks. And if you need a great gift idea for an uncle or your boss, a box of meat is always a fine option.
Beyond the recipes, a cookbook is equal parts instruction manual, personal history, and story book. Barbecue reminds us of backyard parties and bonding over burgers, so it’s no surprise that barbecue and grilling cookbooks tend to be personal for the author.
Whether you’re planning your next dinner party, slow cooking your first brisket, or just looking for some new grilling recipes, these cookbooks will help turn any home cook into a grill master. Here are 16 cookbooks that celebrate regional flavors and offer personal tips for ensuring your best barbecue yet.
For expanding flavor horizons
“Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked over Charcoal” by Leela Punyaratabandhu, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Leela Punyaratabandhu celebrates the open-air grilling traditions of Southeast Asia in this cookbook. The more than 60 recipes are organized by type of meat and highlight the region’s signature flavors and spice blends. Punyaratabandhu selected recipes that could be replicated with cuts of meat and ingredients common in the U.S., bringing meals from her childhood in Thailand to her adult life in Chicago.
For the eternal optimist
“Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Everyday is a Good Day” by Rodney Scott, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Equal parts inspiring and instructional, this book is a guide to James Beard award winning chef Rodney Scott’s barbecue. The first part of the book chronicles Scott’s journey from his family owned barbecue joint to his restaurant in Charleston and every fire pit in between. Later, he explains how to build your own barbecue pit and roast a whole hog. You’ll also find easy to manage recipes like loaded nachos and grilled chicken wings, too.
For bringing vegans to barbecue
“VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook” by Nadine Horn and Jorg Mayer, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Vegans don’t have to be an afterthought at your next backyard party. The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook has more than 80 recipes using vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. You even get a crash course in choosing the right grill and how to avoid common mistakes when cooking vegan dishes.
For those looking to slow down
“Mallmann on Fire: 100 Inspired Recipes to Grill Anytime Anywhere” by Francis Mallmann, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
To the celebrated Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, known for live fire cooking, the environment is just as important as the meal. His belief in enjoying the process of cooking in nature is the backbone of this cookbook, with recipes developed in Paris and the remote Patagonia region of Argentina. On every page, from the charcoal explainers to a recipe for coal roasted squash, Mallmann brings an attitude of wonder back to cooking.
This book centers Black barbecuers through their historical and present contributions to the American food scene. Each chapter tells a different part of the African American connection to barbecue, from the relationship between grilling and church culture, to the history of sauce. Recipes are interspersed throughout, so you can cook up some ribs to go along with your knowledge.
Inspired by his training and Korean roots, Bill Kim created this cookbook, which details his approach to Korean BBQ through the flavor profiles of seven master sauces and three spice rubs. Flexibility is at the core of each recipe so any chef can experiment with the flavors depending on what they have available.
For those who like wine with dinner
“Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings” by Mary Cressler and Sean Martin, available on Amazon and Walmart
In this book, married couple Sean Martin and Mary Cressler combine their areas of expertise as a pitmaster and sommelier, respectively, to pair barbecue with bottles of wine. The regional distinctions of wine are like those of barbecue, and this book honors the two philosophies. Pacific Northwest flavors are prominent in the book, but Martin and Cressler explore multiple flavor profiles in their 75 recipes.
The author of the Barbecue Bible, Steven Raichlen focuses on the intricacies of smoking in this book. Whether it’s with your brand new Big Green Egg or a trusty grill, Raichlen walks you through the setup and technique needed to impart smokey flavor to your food. He treats smoke as an ingredient, using it to elevate basics like salmon and pork, as well as new creations like smoked cheesecake.
For a good laugh and a good meal
“Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling” by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
A blend of scientific exploration and humor, “Meathead” is a practical approach to barbecue. Author and chef Meathead Goldwyn offers definitive dos and don’ts with myth busting asides, promising you’ll leave this book with perfectly roasted ribs in your future. Like any good barbecue chef, Goldwyn includes a chapter just on brines, rubs, and sauces.
For getting the most out of veggies
“Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue” by Genevieve Taylor, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Genevieve Taylor is out to counter the idea of grilling being all about man versus meat. As a lover of vegetables, Taylor created over 70 original recipes for “Charred.” The same flavor-intensifying, sugar-caramelizing magic that happens with meat can happen with vegetables. Some of the recipes can be replicated on a griddle pan or in the oven, but all of them are meant for open flames.
For the true beginner
“How to Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food” by Mark Bittman, available on Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble
If you’re new to grilling, don’t be overwhelmed by the 1,000 recipes and variations inside “How to Grill Everything.” Bittman strips down the basics of cooking over fire so that beginners can follow every step to smokey perfection. Before you invent your own recipes, get the basics down and impress everyone at your barbecue.
This book is a treasure trove of grilling and smoking recipes, from mustard and rosemary-crusted pork shoulder to caramelized apple sauce. Champion pitmaster Tuffy Stone offers readers every tip and trick he’s learned from years on the barbecue competition circuit. Trained by a French chef before he found his way to the open flames, Stone has precise recipes and a plethora of complimentary flavors.
For the Big Green Egg-head
“Mastering the Big Green Egg by Big Green Craig: An Operator’s Manual and Cookbook” by Greg Tabor, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
The Big Green Egg has become synonymous with outdoor cooking in recent years, and this is the perfect cookbook if you have one of these grills in your backyard. Greg Tabor honed his BGE expertise while cooking for his family, and developed his signature style through attending grilling competitions known as Egg Fests. If you’re new to the world of the Big Green Egg, this book prepares you for common problems, encourages experimentation, and provides fail-proof recipes.
For a new regional taste
“Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace” by Michael Symon, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble
When Michael Symon opened his barbecue restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, he wanted to cultivate a regional style of barbecue, instead of imitating other delicious other traditions. This book documents the results of his tour of American barbecue, with original recipes that have a distinctive Cleveland flair.
For a tour of American barbecue
“Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom” by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
If you’re looking for a barbecue anthology, this book covers almost all of American barbecue’s standards. The book is divided into six sections: backyard barbecue, North Carolina, Kansas City, Texas, the North, and competition barbecue. Each section has guest pitmasters, like Steven Raichlen and Tuffy Stone, as expert guides for the recipes and techniques.
For the DIY barbecuer
“Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
This book offers advice on do-it-yourself barbecue from one of the most popular barbecue chefs. There are fewer recipes here than in traditional cookbooks. Instead, Franklin and Mackay use the space to consider wood type and describe the gradations of fire and smoke. For the cook who considers barbecue a personal and delicious art form, this book will help them create their own recipes and signature style.
There’s only one thing between you and a delicious glass of wine, and that’s the cork. If you’ve ever spent too much time wrangling a bottle with a flimsy wine opener, now’s your chance to get a strong and reliable replacement.
We spoke to sommeliers, winemakers, and beverage directors, and they all agreed that a double-hinged wine key (also known as a waiter’s corkscrew) is the best kind of wine opener. It provides excellent leverage and also comes with a small blade to cut the foil off your bottle.
“The classic double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew is the gold standard that people should master. It is probably one of the most common types in the wine world,” said Peter Mondavi, Jr., co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley.
If you’re new to wine, don’t feel intimidated. We have plenty of expert-backed tips and tricks at the end of this guide, as well as photos and videos throughout to show you exactly how to use each wine opener.
The Le Creuset Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew is a beautiful wine key that’s comfortable to hold and provides the leverage to pull corks out with little resistance. Its foil cutter is sharp and easy to use, while its nonstick screw inserts smoothly into natural and synthetic corks alike.
Wine pros love wine keys because they’re compact and easy to carry around, and they have everything you need to pull a stubborn cork out, including a smart, simple leverage system and a built-in foil cutter.
Le Creuset’s wine key is functional and beautiful to boot. Made from sturdy stainless steel, with a wooden handle, it feels substantial, looks great, and was the most comfortable to grasp of all the wine keys we tried. The sharp, serrated foil cutter cuts through foil easily. The screw, which is coated in a nonstick material, works well on a variety of corks and doesn’t leave a mess once inserted or removed.
The hinges throughout the wine key have just the right amount of give — they’re not too tight or loose — and the two boot lever notches (the parts that rest on the lip on the bottle) sit comfortably on the bottle opening. They won’t slip off as you’re pulling the cork out. There’s even a helpful “push” etching to remind you of how to use these levers.
Pros: Soft grips on the wings and top handle, fits securely over bottle opening, strong wings, dishwasher-safe
Cons: Wings may loosen after long-term use
Most of my bad experiences with wine openers come from winged corkscrews. The wings break, they’re not strong enough to pull the cork out, or the screw doesn’t insert securely into the cork. KitchenAid’s contender gave me hope in the maligned winged corkscrew again.
It feels thick and substantial, and it has a non-slip grip material on the top handle, wings, and bottom to help prevent the bottle from moving. The screw inserts into corks smoothly, while the wings pull them out effectively.
We recommend being patient and pushing down on the wings slowly from the top. There can be a little resistance depending on the kind of cork you use, but consistent pressure should pop the cork out successfully in the end. It’s also easy to push the cork back out by turning the handle counterclockwise.
While this was the most comfortable and efficient winged corkscrew we tried, we also know that winged openers often break after a lot of use, so we’re continuing to test this corkscrew for long-term durability.
The best lever corkscrew
Featuring stainless steel construction and a comfortable, textured grip, the Rabbit Vertical Lever Corkscrew makes removing corks easy with a single pulling motion.
Pros: Textured handle grip, comes with a foil cutter, durable
Cons: Struggles with synthetic cork, hard to see whether it’s inserted in the middle of the cork
Using a lever corkscrew is only a matter of two steps: place the corkscrew into the cork, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
It might not be the best design for visual people, since the cylindrical opener covers the entire bottle top and it can be hard to tell when the cork has been removed if you’re a beginner.
Still, Rabbit makes using a vertical lever corkscrew nearly foolproof. Even if you don’t insert the screw right in the middle, it pulls the cork out smoothly, and the lever feels sturdy and durable. It does struggle more with synthetic corks, though, and you might experience some resistance while pulling.
In addition to the smooth operation, the cushioned and textured grip on the handle was a standout feature. This made pulling on the handle much more comfortable and gave me confidence that my hand wouldn’t slip.
The best wine opener on a budget
It’s not the most comfortable to hold, but the Truetap Double-Hinged Corkscrew removes corks smoothly and effectively. It comes in many different colors so you can find one that fits your personal style.
Pros: Good value, nonstick screw inserts easily, provides strong leverage to remove cork, comes in many colors
Cons: Foil cutter is difficult to get out, less comfortable to grip than the Le Creuset
The Truetap corkscrew is metal all around. It’s slim and light, with a thinner grip than the Le Creuset corkscrew. Because of this design, I found it less comfortable to hold as I removed the cork. I also had trouble pulling out the foil cutter, which was frustrating.
However, the overall effectiveness of the corkscrew is still there. All the hinges operate smoothly and aren’t too tight or loose. The boot lever notches sit securely on the bottle lip and the screw is coated in a nonstick material, letting me pull out both synthetic and natural corks with no problem.
It’s hard to find a corkscrew that’s both this affordable and effective, plus it comes in more than two dozen colors. You could easily stock up on a few of these openers and they’d still cost less than a nice bottle of wine.
The best electric wine opener
The sleek, fast-charging, and cordless Secura Electric Wine Opener can pull out 30 corks on one charge. All you do is push a button and it does the work for you.
Pros: Cordless, rechargeable, requires much less physical effort, comes with a foil cutter, has a viewing window
Cons: Bulkier than other types of openers, must be charged
Most kinds of wine openers require some physical effort and hand mobility. An electric wine opener is much more accessible. To use Secura’s wine opener, all you need to do is press and hold the “down” button and it will insert the screw into the cork and take it out of the bottle. When you press the “up” button, it pushes the cork off the screw.
One tip is to hold the bottle as the opener does the work, or else the bottle will also spin. Other than that, the opener is user-friendly and efficient. There’s a clear plastic section on the bottom so you can watch the screw enter the cork and make sure it’s removing the cork effectively. And, the included foil cutter is very sharp.
It takes eight hours to charge, and the accompanying charging base is compact and unassuming. Since it’s made mostly from stainless steel, the opener looks sleeker and feels a lot more substantial then another top competitor, Oster’s electric opener.
Our testing methodology
I tested each wine opener on four bottles of wine: two bottles of Barefoot Wine, which uses synthetic cork, and two bottles of Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw (aka “Two-Buck Chuck”), which uses natural cork. In this initial round of testing, I opened 36 bottles of wine. I rated each opener on how smoothly and easily it pulled out the cork, while noting the comfort, compactness, and design features that added or detracted from its use.
I also washed each opener to evaluate the ease and comfort of washing and any specific care instructions. Finally, I dropped each opener from hip level onto the ground five times to test durability.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
OXO Winged Corkscrew with Removable Foil Cutter: I loved that this model has a clever, removable foil cutter that detaches from the bottom. It’s comfortable to hold and removes corks smoothly. The main drawback is that it feels less substantial and sturdy than our top KitchenAid pick.
Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener: The Oster removes all kinds of corks effectively. Personally, I found the style less attractive, and the construction felt cheaper than our top Secura pick. Still, its actual cork removal performance is great and it charges in eight hours to remove 30 corks on one charge.
What we don’t recommend and why
Viski Winged Corkscrew: This winged corkscrew is made completely of metal, which means it’s brittle and uncomfortable to use. It was especially uncomfortable and felt tight when pulling out synthetic corks.
OXO Vertical Corkscrew: This vertical lever corkscrew has inconsistent performance and only pulled synthetic corks out completely. It was also difficult to insert the screw.
Pulltap’s openers sold on Amazon: Pulltap’s was the brand most referenced and recommended by wine experts. To buy one of their wine openers online, you have to order it from Spain and pay an expensive shipping fee. As many reviewers (including Wirecutter) have discovered, Amazon is full of imitations and fakes, and they’re poorly made. If you’re willing to deal with international shipping, order it from the official site. In our next update, we’ll be ordering one from Amazon and one from the brand site to compare them side-by-side.
What we’re testing next
Pulltap’s Classic Corkscrew: We plan on ordering a Pulltap’s opener from the official site to see if all the extra shipping and international payment hurdles are worth the effort. The Classic Corkscrew has a double-hinged design, with two boot levers, a Teflon-coated screw, and a built-in serrated foil cutter.
Laguiole En Aubrac Waiter’s Corkscrew: We were sold by beverage director Jordan Salcito’s glowing review of the brand. She told Insider Reviews, “Their selection — in terms of style and price point -— is extraordinary and if you’re looking for a gift (for a wine lover or yourself), they engrave and also work with some incredible materials such as fossilized wooly mammoth tusk or wood from trees planted at Versaille by Marie Antoinette. They also offer a lifetime guarantee. If anything goes awry you can mail in your wine key and they’ll fix it, then send it back as good as new.”
Wine opener FAQs
What’s the best wine opener for beginners?
All our experts recommend the double-hinged wine key. Once you learn how to use it, it’s a breeze: “The two-step hinged wine key is great for beginners because it’s pretty straight-forward — you basically insert the screw into the cork, then twist and use the bottle as a leverage point to remove the cork easily and, most importantly, in one piece,” said Alison Rodriguez, a winemaker for The Hess Collection.
Help! The cork is stubborn and won’t come out. How do you get it out?
Take it slow and be firm with it. “Good old careful muscle is the best way to get out a stubborn cork,” said Jordan Salcito, founder of wine brand Ramona and former beverage director at Momofuku.
The screw placement is also important. It needs to be centered and deep in the cork. “I hold the screw at an angle to the bottle and poke the tip into the cork and then move the screw vertical before screwing it in,” said Mondavi, Jr.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take the task to the ground (really!). Mondavi, Jr. said, “Though not very graceful, it’s functional for very stubborn corks: place the bottle on the ground between your feet. Firmly hold the neck of the bottle down and pull straight up on the corkscrew handle. Once the cork is ‘broken loose,’ you can bring it up to the table to finish the job.”
How do you remove a delicate or old cork?
An Ah-So opener is the best type to tackle an old, delicate cork. “If you suspect from the start that you are working with a tricky cork, I’d go straight to the Ah-So opener. You may want to keep a decanter close by just in case you encounter a bit of crumbling along the way,” said Katie Griesbeck, the vice president of sales and marketing at Cakebread Cellars. An Ah-So wine opener has two thin prongs, which you wiggle in between the cork and lip of the bottle. Then, you twist the opener to remove the cork.
“You could also use a Durand which has both a corkscrew and the prongs on the side,” said Conor McKee, a partner and buyer at FIASCO! Wine and Spirits. “These are a little pricey ($125), but if you’re opening something special, or frequently opening older bottles, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.”
Types of wine openers
Wine key: Also known as a waiter’s corkscrew. It’s typically double hinged and contains a foil cutter and handle on one side, a screw in the middle, and two notched pieces on the other side. To use it, open up both sides and insert the screw. Bring the side with the notched pieces down vertically and push the top piece inwards to rest on the lip of the bottle. Pull the handle on the other side to bring the cork out halfway. The notched piece should provide enough leverage. Once there’s enough space, switch to and move the bottom notched piece to the lip of the bottle and continue pulling the handle to completely remove the cork.
Winged corkscrew: A wine opener with a wing on each side and a top handle that’s connected to a screw in the middle. Insert the screw and twist the handle to push the screw deeper. As you’re pushing the screw in, the wings on each side should lift up. Once the screw is deep enough, hold and push down the outer wings to remove the cork.
Lever corkscrew: A wine opener with a lever on one side. To use it, insert the screw, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
Electric opener: A wine opener that’s usually rechargeable. It inserts the screw and removes the cork for you. Typically, it’s operated with simple up and down buttons.
Ah-So opener: A wine opener with one long prong and one shorter prong. It’s used to remove delicate or old corks. To use it, wiggle the long prong in between the cork and bottle. Then wiggle the shorter prong in, and twist the handle slowly to remove the cork.
And, here are two wine opener terms you should know:
Foil cutter: A utensil used to cut the foil off the top of a wine bottle. It can come in the form of a small serrated knife, or as a circular accessory that has two blades. For the latter, you place the accessory over the top of the bottle, squeeze, and turn it to cut through the foil.
Screw: Also known as a worm. The coiled part of a wine opener that is sharp on one end and inserted into the cork to remove it.
The sparkling seltzer market has tons of options, but Spindrift stands alone as the first sparkling water made with real squeezed fruit juice.
If you haven’t tried Spindrift before, this hint of juice adds a deeper flavor than you’ll find from most seltzer brands. It also comes in refreshing flavors like cucumber, cranberry raspberry, orange mango, and more.
Its unique flavor has drawn a fervent fan base and sales have exploded over the last few years, growing 800% between 2016 and 2018, according to Bevnet. Once local to only New England, you can now find Spindrift nationwide at major retailers such as Target and Trader Joe’s.
The wild success of its non-alcoholic seltzers has resulted in even more hype for it’s most recent launch: Spindrift Spiked Seltzer.
Being both a Spindrift fan and hard seltzer enthusiast, I knew I had to get my hands on a pack of the new spiked seltzer. I tried all four flavors of Spindrift Spiked Seltzer to see how it stacks up against a saturated hard seltzer market ahead of the summer.
What’s in Spindrift Spiked Seltzer?
There are four flavors of Spindrift Spiked Seltzer: pineapple, mango, lime, and half and half (half tea, half lemonade). Compared to popular hard seltzers, Spindrift has a slightly lower ABV than Truly, White Claw, and Bon & Viv, at just 4%. All four flavors are under 100 calories per can, too, lower than most competitors.
The biggest difference between Spindrift and competing seltzers is the 4% to 10% fruit juice in its hard seltzers. Despite the juice, the Spindrift seltzers somehow boast only zero to three grams of sugar per can and fewer carbohydrates than competitors.
Each can of Spindrift Spiked Seltzer has a thin design similar to White Claw and minimal branding. I paired my first seltzer, a half and half-inspired mix of black tea and lemonade, with a batch of hot wings hoping it would cool off my tongue.
Seconds after I cracked open the can and took my first sip, I noticed how non-alcoholic the drink tastes. It was akin to a watered down Arnold Palmer, but much more fizzy and bubbly.
This provided an immediate cooling sensation and I could sense the fresh, cane sugary taste of the lemon and tea.
Next, I tried the pineapple flavor. The fruity taste was a bit more apparent than the half and half flavor, and the alcohol stood out more, too. I liked the smooth, tropical flavor more and more as I sipped on it. I felt similarly about Spindrift’s mango flavor.
I saved lime for last since it’s often one of my least favorite flavors of seltzer. Yet, the second I cracked open the can, I could smell just how genuine the taste was compared to other lime-flavored food and drinks I’ve had. This was easily the most enjoyable flavor of the pack and reminded me of a quality, crisp sour ale.
The bottom line
After polishing off the cans from my taste test, I immediately looked up where I could find Spindrift Spiked Seltzer. It’s one of the best alcoholic seltzers I’ve ever tried. The fresh hint of juice fused well with the bubbly effects of the seltzer, and the alcohol subtly blended into the beverage. It’s a crisp, refreshing drink that would be perfectly at home in a beach cooler or at a summer cookout.
The low 4% ABV means it will likely take more than one drink for you to feel its effects. This could be a plus or a negative for some people, depending on the setting or occasion for drinking the seltzer. Still, it feels more refreshing than higher-alcohol competitors.
For now, the seltzer is just entering U.S. markets which means it could take awhile before it hits your local convenience or grocery store. (You can buy it online and have it shipped, however.)
Pros: Real juice taste, crisp bubbly effect, standout lime flavor
Cons: Hard to find in stores, will require more than one or two drinks to feel a buzz
The Dominican and South Korean cultural backgrounds of husband-wife team Roger and Julia Choi Rodriguez shine through in this collection of carefully crafted bonbons. Flavors include Té Gengibre (Ginger Tea), Morir Soñando (Orange Creamsicle), Yuja (Yuzu), and Daanpaat (Sweet Red Bean). If your mom prefers bars to bonbons, we love the complex Vegan Matcha Oat bar.
Go beyond a simple bag of beans and gift Mom a coffee tasting session along with it. Taught by a certified coffee cupper, the class will give her a fresh appreciation for coffee brewing. The kit comes with a bag of Bean & Bean’s Downtown Blend, a Mr. Clever Brewer, a box of filters, and a bonus steeped bag.
New York City’s latest dessert craze revolves around oat milk, more specifically, oat milk ice cream. The plant-based, dairy-free desserts are now available on Goldbelly, where you can pick from flavors like Cinnamon Apple Crisp and Mint Chocolate Cookie.
In case you haven’t heard, tinned seafood is the delicacy you shouldn’t sleep on. Scout’s delicious “Seacuterie” spread includes Atlantic Canadian lobster, PEI mussels in a smoked paprika and fennel tomato sauce, and Ontario trout with dill, a memorable departure from the usual charcuterie board.
Occo sells tiny portions of organic, ethically sourced spices — just the right amount you need for the new recipe you want to try tonight. Depending on what your mom typically likes to cook, you can buy spices for specific recipes, like this themed collection of Caribbean-Creole dishes, or explore a particular spice family, like the cinnamon varieties above.
The bakery’s famous hot chocolate and Champurrado (a thick chocolate drink made with masa harina) draw visitors from all over Los Angeles. You and Mom can make both at home, with the help of a traditional Molinillo whisk. And, the bakery donates 1% of all sales to conservation efforts like butterfly habit conservation in Mexico.
It’s pretty much impossible to eat just one of these bite-sized cupcakes, especially when they come in flavors like Midnight Munchies (it’s chocolate cake stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with a potato chip and pretzel brittle) and Sugar Cookie Dough. This limited-edition gift box also comes with a card for you to add a personalized message.
A box of craft beers she might not be able to find locally
We’re big fans of the fun variety that Tavour offers, from milkshake-inspired IPAs to strong sours. She’ll need to clear some fridge space for this one. Gift cards are also available if she’d prefer to build her own box.
Online healthy food startup Daily Harvest can feed her from breakfast to dinner with its bowls, bites, lattes, and smoothies. It even offers almond milk and “ice cream.” She’ll be able to fill her custom box with any nine items she wants. Prep is as easy as popping the bowl into a microwave or dumping the ingredients into a blender.
The favorite cereal flavors of childhoods past are back in less sugary, more nutritious, and just as delicious forms. The high-protein, gluten-free cereals from Magic Spoon leave healthy, boring “adult” brands in the dust and are perfect for the kid at heart who eats a big bowl of cereal for breakfast every day.
This Brooklyn-based indie purveyor bestowed its gift of spicy, Meyer Lemon, and salted honeys to the world, and ice cream, cornbread, and even pizza have never tasted so good. Personally, I can’t imagine going back to regular honey after using this honey, which offers just the right amount of kick to bring out the flavors of your dish.
Bokksu’s curations of creative Japanese snacks has delighted food lovers in countries all over the world. The snacks are sourced directly from artisan makers in Japan and each box revolves around a different theme each month. She’ll get to enjoy 20 to 25 snacks, along with a tea pairing, and learn about each product’s origin.
Chocolate covered this and that, green M&Ms, gold M&Ms, a 1950s vintage collection, a ’70s one — the list is endless. You just have to choose the size: snack ($35), economy ($50), family ($75), or candy crazy ($100) and call it a day.
Shari’s Berries doesn’t settle for simple chocolate strawberries. It dips the fruit in a layer of white or milk chocolate, then tops on additional chocolate drizzle, ground coffee, and mini chocolate chips.
Conjuring memories of PB&J-making sessions and sunny picnics, this set of rich, gourmet jams and jellies is sure to be devoured quickly. She’ll get a whole array of flavors, from a bright apricot-orange to a multi-faceted cherry rosehip hibiscus.
Don’t know much about wine but still want to impress your mom? SommSelect takes care of the bottle picks and curation for you, so you can simply sit back and listen to her rave about her new favorite wine. The wine varieties in this collection hail from all over the world, from the Finger Lakes in New York to Swartland, South Africa.
Experience the unique coffee of three different countries through an Atlas Coffee Club subscription. Whether she’s a whole bean, ground, light roast, or dark roast type of gal, she’ll get a cool world tour of coffee she’s never tried before.
Another underrated ingredient that can make a big difference is flavored salt. She’ll proudly display these salts — PureFlake, black pepper, black garlic, pino noir, habanero, and rosemary — in the included wooden stand and receive suggested pairings for each salt. After sampling this diverse array, she can order the full size online.
Matcha is about the ritual of preparation as much as it is about the flavor and antioxidant benefits. This set contains all the tools and instructions she needs to make a cup of matcha at home — no more overpaying at the trendy shop in the city.
The healthy-eating program she’s been wanting to try
The Sakara Life clean eating program is all the buzz in the health and fitness worlds, but does it really live up to the hype? Give Mom an opportunity to see for herself by gifting a one-week trial. It’s not cheap, but the meals are made from fresh and organic ingredients, taste great, and will be delivered right to her door.
Pastries like muffins and brownies usually get all the glory. Seven Sisters Scones, however, focuses exclusively on the humble scone, and does it justice. Often maligned for being dry and crumbly, the scones from this Georgia-based bakery come in a variety of sweet and savory flavors to enjoy for breakfast or with a warm beverage.
The CDC has now declared travel within the US safe for those who are fully vaccinated, and many wineries have reopened with new safety measures in place. For those seeking an in-person wine getaway, consider a stay at some of the best Airbnbs near wineries. However, for those who aren’t yet vaccinated, aren’t ready to gather in a tasting room, or are simply seeking a fun, at-home evening activity, virtual wine tastings are a great option.
Many places are bringing tastings, classes, and events directly to living rooms instead so you can uncork a favorite bottle of wine with friends, coworkers, or loved ones via Zoom instead. Best of all, many of the tastings are free to join, and some will send wine directly to your door as part of the package. For those that require buying your own bottles, it’s easier than ever to order wines directly from vineyards or from a local alcohol delivery service.
I tried a virtual wine tasting myself on Coursehorse myself. I’m no stranger to in-person tastings thanks to my background as a travel editor, and I remember the days of drinking Chianti in Tuscany, throwing back cava in Catalonia, and sipping Chardonnay in Sonoma. I was hesitant at first about doing a virtual class since wine tastings are such sensorial experiences. However, after ordering wines on Drizly with a few old college friends and joining the class via Zoom, it turned out to be a blast. I even I discovered a new favorite Sauvignon Blanc I’ll definitely be drinking again in the future.
In fact, I had so much fun I ended up signing up for a second virtual tasting via Bouchaine wineries with my family. If you want to follow suit, read on for some of the best virtual wine tastings below.
Here are 24 virtual wine tastings to try at home:
Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis on Coursera
For those who want to seriously up their wine tasting skills while quarantining, Coursera offers a free class from UC Davis to turn beginner sippers into pro sommeliers. The class takes roughly 14 hours to complete. Throughout the class, students build sensory vocabulary to describe wine, learn to identify various faults in different varietals, discover classic wine types of the world, delve into food pairings, and more. The course culminates in a peer review project using all the knowledge developed throughout the course to assess a specific wine.
Starting price: Free
Wine included? No. Students will need to purchase the necessary wines on their own. Coursera anticipates that the total cost of the wines through the class is $150 to $250.
The oldest Napa Valley winery, Charles Krug has been making wine for almost 160 years. Currently, they offer multiple options for sipping from the comfort of your own home. Beginners can try three customized bottles while learning about the family’s history, while foodies can pair current release Charles Krug wines with curated charcuterie. For those who already have Charles Krug wines at home, you can also have an expert lead you through a tasting of what’s in your cellar.
The winery has also partnered with The Laugh Cellar for a virtual comedy series. Tickets are $99 and include two bottles of wine and access to the wine tasting and comedy virtual event.
Starting price: Tastings can be customized and range from $85 to $250 depending on the wines.
Owned by award-winning Latina winemaker Cecilia Enriquez, Enriquez Estate Wines is a family-operated winery in Sonoma, California. With the holidays quickly approaching, the winery realizes that spending time with family may be virtual for many this year and they’re aiming to help make that time special still.
Enriquez Estate Wines’ Virtual Holiday Party Pack is an excellent way to virtually celebrate and safely reconnect with family, friends, or colleagues this season. Cecilia will lead a private guided virtual tasting experience as tasters enjoy a two-pack of premium Brisa and Tempranillo wines and a Cheese & Charcuterie Nosh Box.
The popular wine website is tapping winemakers, wine critics, and other pros for a series of free virtual wine and spirit tastings. Join Invivo X creators Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Cameron, and Tim Lightbourne for a tasting of their inaugural New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Provencal Rosé, or get to know the trailblazers of the Oregon wine scene as they share stories about winemaking, artistry, and entrepreneurship.
Virtual Wine Tasting 101 is ideal for beginner tasters interested in learning basic wine terms, how to properly taste wine, and trying different varieties to decide what wines most appeal to your palette. The two-hour, interactive class begins with a brief introduction to how wine is made and teaches wine newbies to speak confidently about acidity, legs, body, and more fundamentals through five different wines. It can be booked as part of a regular group lesson or as a private event.
Starting price: $25 per person
Wine included? No. Participants will need to buy the specific wines themselves ahead of time, but all of the wines are easily accessible at most wine shops and through alcohol delivery services.
How to join: Sign up on Coursehorse here. A Zoom link and PowerPoint will be emailed out just before the tasting begins.
Virtual with Us
Alex Schrecengost recently launched Virtual with Us when she saw a need during the pandemic for colleagues to connect safely and remotely in a way that still cultivated a fun, business-casual social environment. While it was originally created with businesses in mind, groups of eight or more friends and family can sign up for virtual tastings, too.
The company works with sommeliers and wine professionals to curate top wines and has helped put together special events for groups ranging from a murder mystery party to a gala fundraiser.
Starting price: $200 per person
Wine included? Yes. While this tasting is pricier than some other options on our list, it includes premium wines, sommelier fees, event planning fees, and all shipping/taxes.
Started by sommelier Michael Bottigliero, Bottles Nation has transitioned their usual in-person tasting events to online offerings due to COVID-19. Bottles Nation is not associated with any specific wineries so the sommeliers don’t push specific brands and instead focus on sharing their true favorite bottles.
The company runs tastings for individuals, as well as accommodating events and parties and multiple people can join in from up to six different locations for the same starting flat fee.
For those in the mood for something other than wine, Bottles Nation also has beer and mixology tasting options.
Starting price: $150 for one hour
Wine included? No. You can purchase wines yourself or order directly from Bottles Nation when you sign up.
How to join: Sign up on Bottles Nation here. After signing up, they will contact you directly to set up a time for a Zoom call.
Corkbuzz is offering a series of virtual one-hour wine classes taught by varying experts and broken down by region. Taste your way through Napa Valley or learn the basics of Burgundy. Classes discuss everything from the geography and soil to the winemaking techniques and popular varietals of each specific region. The classes are fairly informal and participants are encouraged to sip along with any theme-relevant bottle.
Starting price: $10 per person
Wine included? No. You can buy any wine from that region to enjoy while following along.
How to join: Sign up on Corkbuzz here. Zoom links are sent the morning of the class and follow-up notes are sent the next day.
A personal favorite winery in Napa, Bouchaine is offering customized 50-minute virtual tastings to bring California wine country right to your couch. Select from three different options depending on your knowledge and experience: Winemaker 101, 201, or 301.
Predictably, 101 is best for casual wine sippers who want to learn basics like how wine gets its color and how the same grapes can be made into completely different wines. Meanwhile, Winemaker 301 focuses on clones (different grape vines that are grafted together) and delves into topics like differences in aroma and flavor in Pinot Noir clones. Every class is with a live host overlooking the stunning estate vineyards. Once you purchase your wines, you’ll be able to set up a private time that works with your schedule for the wine tasting.
Starting price: $59
Wine included? Yes. Classes include two, three, or four wines from the vineyard depending on the level and are shipped directly to your door.
How to join: Select your experience here. Once you’ve purchased, you can schedule a private tasting session via phone or email.
You definitely want a taste of Matthiason, a six-time James Beard Award nominee and Winemaker of the Year according to “Food & Wine Magazine.” Luckily for wine enthusiasts everywhere, the winemaker is offering complimentary private tastings online to everyone who purchases a Tasting Pack or a Wine Club Membership.
Get an inside look at the stories behind the wines and all your wine questions answered. If you do decide to join the wine club, you’ll also enjoy priority access to member-only and limited production wines, as well as 15% savings on all wine purchases.
Starting price: Free with purchase of a Tasting Pack or Wine Club Membership. Tasting Packs start at $249 for 6 bottles. Wine Club Membership starts at $315 for 6 bottles.
Wine included? Wine must be purchased to participate in a tasting.
To enjoy a 45-minute Zoom tasting, purchase a Virtual Tasting Pack to be delivered to your door, then sign up for a time slot that works for you online. An employee will guide you through each of the wines and give an update of what’s happening at the ranch. If you want the tasting to be a private event for just you and friends, call ahead of time to arrange it.
Starting price: Virtual Tasting Packs start at $124. Tune in to Social Hour on Instagram for free.
Wine included? Yes. You must buy the wines first to sign up for a virtual tasting.
These fun and free tastings are hosted by Caroline, a British-American sommelier living in France. She typically hosts small group wine workshops in her gorgeous loft apartment in Lyon’s Croix-Rousse, but has moved her tasting experiences online. Join others from around the world for a free virtual happy hour via Zoom. If you’d like something a little more structured, you can also sign up for a private wine tasting either for yourself or a group.
Starting price: Free to join the virtual happy hour. Private tastings start at €150, or around $164.
Wine included? No. Buy whatever wine suits you ahead of time and email the host what you’ll be drinking so she can answer any questions you might have about it.
The United Sommeliers Foundation has teamed up with Benchmark Wine Group for weekly virtual wine tastings. Every Thursday, wine lovers are invited to take part in exclusive virtual tastings guided by celebrity sommeliers. Participants can buy bottles from Benchmark for the event, or just crack open a bottle of whatever is handy. If you want to support the foundation, you can donate to participate on-screen and ask questions throughout. Alternatively, you can register and watch without participating for free.
Starting price: Free to register and watch. A $50 minimum donation to The United Sommeliers Foundation is required to participate on-screen.
Join America’s oldest wine shop for your next virtual cheers. Every Wednesday Acker Wines offers virtual vintage tastings and private tastings for both wine and spirits can also be arranged. Group sizes can be tailored and tastings are led by a sommelier. Just be sure to book your tasting at least two weeks in advance.
Starting price: $75 for two bottles
Wine included? Yes.
How to join: Register for private virtual wine tastings here.
The Supper Share
The Supper Share was created in March 2020 specifically to help sommeliers, chefs, and restaurant professionals find new opportunities to share their expertise and talent while many people continue to shelter in place due to the novel coronavirus. Fill out a simple form, choose a wine theme, and they take care of the rest. Within 48 hours, they’ll connect you with a sommelier, provide a retail link to order your wines, send a custom invite for everyone in the group to use to connect virtually. You can also set up customized virtual dinner parties, cocktail classes, and more.
Starting price: Packages start at $75 per person.
Wine included? Yes. Participants will receive a link to order wines after signing up. The package price includes the cost of two to three wines.
How to join: Fill out a simple form with your date, party size, price range, and other details here.
Willamette Valley Wine
Willamette Valley Wine regularly adds and curates new virtual wine tastings, happy hours, and events with vineyards and winemakers across the region. Every tasting is a little different, but past events have ranged from blind tastings of Pinot noirs to a chardonnay tasting that included a mini cooking lesson.
Starting price: Free
Wine included? No. Buy wines from the specific winery or sip along with whatever you have on your bar cart.
How to join: Depends on the event. Many are held on the vineyards’ individual Facebook pages or via Instagram live. You can see all the upcoming events and how to join here.
Book a Guided Virtual Group Tasting at Ponzi Vineyards and virtually connect with friends, family, or work colleagues over a bottle. After placing an order, a Ponzi team member will gather each participant’s delivery address and send a package to each person. Packages can be entirely and you can even get custom Ponzi wine glasses included.
Each experience is led by an experienced Ponzi Wine Ambassador who will walk your group through the wines.
Starting price: $200 for four people
Wine included? Yes. Bottles are sent directly to every participant.
Chateau Montelena is hosting virtual holiday celebrations for gatherings of family, friends, or even corporate groups who want to connect this holiday season. The winery will offer a variety of completely customizable, fun, and educational experiences that can be customized to any group’s preferences.
Options range from a standard wine tasting package that can be tailored to group size and budget to enhanced virtual experiences with culinary pairings and cooking tutorials.
Starting price: Free for the tasting, wines starting from $35.
Wine included? Yes. Choose from a range of different bottles and package options that can be delivered for tailored tastings. Single bottles start at $35 and curated collections start from $135.
How to join: Explore curated collections here and see a menu of special holiday options with food partners here. When you’re ready to book a virtual tasting experience call 1-800-222-7288.
Kosherwine.com has teamed up with the Israeli Wine Producers Association for a weekly virtual wine series. Novices and oenophiles alike can enjoy the free live-streamed events now through July 5. Each event focuses on a different Israeli wine producer whose notable products are widely distributed across the US and beyond.
Participants are encouraged to submit questions for the expert prior to these sessions, and one lucky winner will receive a free bottle of wine and a VIP winery tour for each live event.
Starting price: Free to live stream
Wine included? No. Viewers can purchase Sampler Sets from each winery at a discounted price to taste along with the experts or enjoy afterward.
Kendall-Jackson recently launched a new series called At Home with Kendall-Jackson, a virtual cooking series featuring weekly hands-on demonstrations hosted by the winery’s culinary team on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET. Viewers can learn firsthand how to cook wine country fare and how to wine pair from the comfort of their homes.
Starting price: Free to join on Zoom
Wine included? No. BYOB your favorite Kendall-Jackson wine or whatever you have handy.
Champagne lovers can enjoy learning about the iconic bubbles from the source. Discover the Champagne region in France via a virtual experience with A la Francaise Champagne.
Guests can join a one-hour virtual Zoom tour with a local expert and pop their open bottle of Champagne to enjoy during the experience. The tour is available to join every day of the week at four different times to best accommodate a range of time zones.
For a more intimate and immersive experience, you can also arrange for a private tour with Champagne sent to your doorstep ahead of time.
Starting price: ~$17.50 (€15) for the standard tour; ~$116 (€100) for a private tour
Wine included? No, but it can be arranged for private tours.
How to join: Sign up for a virtual Zoom tour here.
Far Niente Family of Wineries and Vineyards
Started in 2020, Far Niente’s Hosted at Home wine subscription offers pre-scheduled virtual wine happy hours, hosted by senior wine educators. Discover new wines each month sent directly to your doorstep, and enjoy special appearances from the Far Niente Family winemakers, wine experts, chefs, and more.
As an added bonus for those seeking ways to connect with other wine lovers amidst the pandemic, Hosted at Home allows you to connect with other members from around the country during the virtual experiences.
Starting price: $200 per month
Wine included? Yes.
How to join: You can purchase a Hosted at Home membership here.
Larmkead Vineyards is a world-class, family-owned wine estate in the Napa Valley. For those who enjoy savoring a truly high-end bottle, they offer a yearly membership at three different bottles so you can choose from receiving 10 bottles all the way up to 36 bottles shipped right to you. As part of the price, members also get access to virtual tastings to celebrating the release of new wines. And for those who happen to live nearby, members also have access to four annual visits with complimentary tastings (up to four guests per visit).
Specializing mainly in bigger corporate events, treat your coworkers and colleagues to a virtual tasting with Bluemont Vineyard. Tastings are personalized to meet your team’s size and needs. An event manager will help you every step of the way and virtual event boxes are shipped to each participant in advance.
Starting price: $45 per person
Wine included? Yes.
How to join: Sign up for a virtual tasting event here. Guests will join the event via zoom video chat.