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In a year when we were finally able to sink into restaurant booths again, invite friends around an actual table (rather than raise a glass to yet another screen), and cook a meal for more than our immediate families—things have brightened up considerably. For all the real challenges the food & drinks industry has experienced in these unpredictable times, entrepreneurs have also found opportunities to strike out on their own, as late-night hobbies turned into burgeoning business plans. 

And so, a gift in 2021 can be about celebrating and supporting the hard work and dizzying talent that went into, say, that jar of Persian orange jam, bottle of Brooklyn-distilled gin, book on fermenting traditions from around the world, or trays woven in Cambodia. It’s a connection to the people and places we might not have been able to experience first-hand. As our team assembled this guide—which started out as a wild (and soon unwieldy) spreadsheet peppered with enthusiastic tasting notes and impassioned pitches, as well as recommendations from some of our most trusted contributors and friends—it was clear we needed to edit this package on full stomachs. The through line? We kept returning to the items with a backstory that felt truly special, often thanks to a handmade touch. This holiday season, we wish you moments to savor, and to be near the ones you love—and hopefully enjoy one (or more) of the items on this list!

Our Gifting Experts

Ajiri Aki, Founder, Madame de la Maison; Kate Berry, Chief Content Officer, SAVEUR; Stephanie Burt, Host, The Southern Fork Podcast; Richard Christensen, Founder, Flamingo Estate; Jake Cohen, Cookbook Author; Kat Craddock, Editorial Director Recipes & Service, SAVEUR; Taffy Elrod, Chef and Recipe Tester; Bryan Ford, Cookbook Author and Baker; Ellen Fort, Senior Commerce Editor, SAVEUR; Lani Halliday, Pastry Chef and Founder of Brutus Bakeshop; Benjamin Kemper, SAVEUR Contributor; Katherine Lewin, Founder of Big Night; Hetty McKinnon, Cookbook Author and Food Writer; Shane Mitchell, Editor-at-Large, SAVEUR; Anna Polonsky, Creative Director, Polonsky & Friends; Austin Power, Owner, Accidental Bar; Alex Redgrave, Executive Editor, SAVEUR; Jancis Robinson, Wine Critic and Writer; Fanny Singer, Co-Founder of Permanent Collection and Author; Susan Spungen, Cookbook Author, Food Stylist, and Recipe Writer; Kelvin Uffre, “Sucio Sommelier”; Mozel Watson, Owner of Wines by Mozel; Marquis Williams, Founder of Highly Recommended; Samantha Weiss-Hills, Deputy Commerce Editor, SAVEUR; Maggie Xue, Founder & CEO, Us Two Tea; Megan Zhang, Senior Editor of Culture & Trends, SAVEUR