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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA

Holiday Gifts

Tis the season to be shopping
Its the holiday season again but what can you buy friends and relatives other than lacquer boxes and matrioshki? Whether youre on a shoestring budget or want to splash out, PASSPORTs hunted down 12 creative gift ideas, all from Russia (and one from Armenia), for the whole family and that crusty old aunt too.

For the man who has enough socks to last a lifetime, how about a bottle of Armenian cognac instead? Armenia has long counted the Nairi and Yerevan brands amongst its most famous exports Churchill is said to have been especially partial to the latter. Choose from a range of cognacs of various age (up to 50 years) and proof
(from 40-57%).
20-year-old 0.5l bottle of Yerevan cognac, 3100 rubles from Stockmann.
3 Smolenskaya Square, 785 2500, 10am-10pm daily.
Alternatively, check out

If youre looking for a tie with a difference, veteran Russian designer Valentin Yudashkins line includes these quirky yet still suitably conservative Faberge egg patterns. The store also sells a range of square silk scarves with a Russian twist two-headed eagles and other insignia in an Italian-inspired design. 
100% silk necktie, 1575 rubles from Valentin Yudashkin.
19 Kutuzovsky Prospect, 785 1052/53/54; 11am-9pm MonSat, 11am-6pm Sun.


You know its time for a new pair when you find a stack of lonely discarded cufflinks whose other halves have long been misplaced. If youre in St. Petersburg over the holidays, check out acclaimed Petersburg jeweler Andrei Ananovs range of Faberge-inspired mens and womens jewelry.
Handmade silver and enamel cufflinks, $1200 from Ananov. 31 Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, (812) 110 55 92, 11am-7pm daily.




Forget Lomonosov porcelain and Ghzel pottery Russian crafts have come of age. Contemporary Russian artists working with glass have created a range of ornaments, lamps, vases, and other decorative pieces that would make someone an unusual and stylish gift.
Prices start from $20. Vase by Vladimir Muratov, $10,000 from Life of Art Glass Gallery. 26 Petrovka Ul., bldg. 2 door 9,
923 0776, noon-7pm Mon-Fri.


If you want something more traditional, consider a gift made of felt a warm and snuggly material made from processed wool and used for clothes, accessories and random knick-knacks. For example, keep little toes warm this winter with a pair of handmade felt tapochki.
Felt  tapochki, 900 rubles from Novodel. 9/1 Bol. Palashevky Per., 926 4538, noon-8pm Mon-Sat.



For the person who already has everything, how about a winter troika ride through one of Moscows parks? If youre feeling extravagant, rent a troika and arrange a personalized ride at your location of choice, starting from $500 for 2 hours. Otherwise, you can find rides out at Tsaritsino for $100 per hour, but their troika is, unfortunately, a one-horse show. 
For more information, ring Sirius at 8926 528 47 03
or go to



Cuddly toys are always guaranteed to go down well with little girls and romantic grown women alike. This burgundy rabbit, handmade from embroidered cushion fabric by designer Tatiana Fedina, has a delightfully absent-minded expression that youll find hard to resist.  
Hand-made toy rabbit, 800 rubles from Tutoviy Angel.
Gostiny Dvor, 4 Ilinka Ul., entrance 6, lower gallery, 364 68 69,
11am-7pm daily.




Instead of usual holiday games like Scrabble or charades, play chess and get rewarded in mouthfuls of confectionery with this chocolate chess set. Winner gets to eat the chocolate base, too.
Chocolate chess set, 3000 rubles from Confael. 18 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ul., 251 1555; 12 Novy Arbat, 7822500. 10am-10pm daily. 


Those with an alternative sense of style will appreciate the range of one-off vintage-style clothing now widely available. This choker, by a student designer, is made from metal buttons that are over half a century old.
Vintage-style choker, 2000 rubles from Podruga Brata.
4th floor Detsky Mir, 11am-9pm daily.



What old Russian collectable can you get someone who already has the requisite badges and coins? Without wanting to encourage voyeurism, this 19th century army telescope is a fun albeit pricey toy. Bear in mind, though, that because of its age, this particular piece cant be taken out of the country.
Antique telescope, 26,000 rubles from Russkaya Usadba.
Central House of Artists, 238 9623, 11am-7pm Tue-Sun.


Heres a timely gift for a loved one who is never punctual, from one of Russias leading watch manufacturers. The factory originally made timepieces for military purposes, including Yuri Gagarins watch on his historical space mission, and now produces a wide range of mens and womens casual and dress watches.
Ladys watch with black leather strap, 1400 rubles from Poljot.
35b Vorontsovskaya bldg.3, 10am-5pm.



Instead of buying yet another stack of babushka shawls for your female relatives, go down to one of the contemporary Russian fashion boutiques springing up all over town. This scarf by designer Lyudmila Mezentseva clearly wont withstand a Russian winter, but would be a great accessory for an evening cocktail party.
Black and orange scarf, 1360 rubles from Boucle Salon.
Arbat 27/47, 291 6624, 11am-9pm daily.

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