Buy quality gifts for Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 02, 2011
By Sara Moore
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Maybe your guy is sweet, but he buys you crappy gifts for Valentine’s Day or at least not the best quality. Dawn Bryan, author of The Art and Etiquette and Gift Giving, and owner of Qualipedia, LLC offers expert advice on making quality choices. Here are her tips for choosing the best Valentine’s Day gifts, so pass this on to your man.

Dawn Bryan

Chocolate:
1. Chocolate should be purchased from a store or distributor that keeps it at a steady, cool temperature away from sunlight, and that has a high turnover; the chocolate will be fresh.
2. Indicators of quality: appearance, aroma, touch, sound, texture, flavor and after-taste.
3. Real dark chocolate must have chocolate liquor listed as an ingredient.

Champagne:
1. The least expensive sparkling wines are made to “sparkle” by injecting carbon dioxide.
2. True champagne has smaller bubbles that last longer and it will taste creamier.
3. The quality of champagne is judged by its mousse, its perlage, the persistence of bubbles, the mouth feel.
4. Light, heat and excessive dryness are enemies of champagne–so is time.
5. Grand Cru is the highest ranking a French vineyard can receive.
6. Chill in refrigerator the night before or for at least three hours; for last minute chilling, put it in a bucket with water and ice and a little salt for about 30 minutes. It should be chilled to around 50 degrees.

Cashmere:
1.Density: does the sweater snap back into shape after you stretch it a bit? A loosely-knit sweater will not. Manufacturers who knit loosely are trying to save money.
2. Texture: should feel very smooth on your sensitive fingertips, without any prickles.
3. Color: cashmere is white, grey, and brown, with white being the most valuable. When the original cashmere is very white; the less dye the better, as it changes the feel of the finished product. A dark-colored cashmere will often be considerably less soft than a white one.

Caviar:
1. When buying caviar, the point is to try to get it as fresh as possible, as it is highly perishable. Once the importer packages caviar in tins to ship, the product only has 2-3 weeks of shelf life under the very best refrigeration conditions.
2. Purchase from a reputable mail order company that ships overnight. Some of these companies even raise the caviar themselves, making freshness even more likely.
3. Keep caviar in the refrigerator until just 10 to 15 minutes before serving, and don’t open the container until immediately before serving.
4. Use only glass, wood, gold, or mother of pearl spoons and dishes in handling the caviar. Any metal that oxidizes easily will impart a metallic taste to your caviar, so silver and inexpensive stainless steel are definitely out.
5. Keep caviar very cold: at 26-36° F.
–Unopened caviar shelf life:
–Unpasteurized tin: 3 weeks
–Pasteurized tin: 3 or 4 months
–Vacuum-packed containers: read label for shelf-life
6. Once opened, caviar should be consumed within a few days. Put plastic wrap over the unused portion before putting the lid on the tin or jar. Twice a day, rotate the tins or jars to distribute the oils.

Bed Sheets:
Three of the most important considerations in choosing sheets are thread count, fiber quality, and ply.
1. Thread count (cotton and synthetics only)
–The number of threads, vertical and horizontal, per square inch of fabric
–The higher the thread count, the softer and more durable it will be.
–To avoid a scratchy feel, one should go no lower than 200.
–A thread count of 300 to 400 is good quality; often higher thread count is difficult to discern, and may be deceptive advertising.
2. Fiber quality–A high quality fiber with a low thread count will be no better than a low quality fiber with a high thread count.
–Generally, the longer the fiber, the better, stronger and smoother the fabric construction will be.
3. Ply— the number of threads twisted together when a fabric is made.
–Manufacturers sometimes twist threads together to increase the thread count, because it’s easier than making high thread count sheets using single threads (e.g. a two-ply 500 thread count sheet is actually only 250 two-ply threads per inch).
–High-ply sheets are heavier and thicker and not necessarily softer or more durable.
–High-ply sheets are more likely to pill.
–The highest thread count a single-ply sheet can have is 500; a 1000 thread count sheet has to be at least two-ply.


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2 Responses to “Buy quality gifts for Valentine’s Day”

  1. Doe Lang Says:

    Terrifically helpful comments and idea = Ms. Bryan should be your regular columnist- we’re all so deluged with advertising to have a REAL GUIDE TO QUALITY is a huge service!.


  2. Results | Astonish Says:

    […] FUSION MAGAZINE, February 2011: Buy Quality Gifts for Valentine’s Day […]


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