Wine makes a wonderful present, and I say this not just because the Wine Curmudgeon likes to have people give him wine. (White Burgundy, if anyone is reading.) It's a fine gift because it requires thought and effort. You just can't pick up the phone and order wine the way you can flowers.
So what does that thought and effort require? Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you want to buy Mom wine. (And, if you need more help, Thursday's wine of the week will be aimed at Mom):
• Remember that the gift is for Mom, and not for you. If she likes white zinfandel, buy her white zinfandel, even if you think it's the equivalent of pink iced tea.
• Keep Mom's wine experience in mind. If she only drinks simple, easily available wines, there's no need to buy her a 1981 Lafitte-Rothschild. This doesn't mean you're cheap; it just means you're taking Mom's palate into account.
• Know Mom's taste in wines. If she likes soft white wines, don't buy her big, tannic reds (and vice-versa). Again, the idea is to buy her something she'll enjoy. And how do you tell what she likes, short of asking her and giving it away? Pay attention to what she orders in restaurants or has around the house.
• Buy Mom something that reminds her of a wonderful time that she once had, whether it was a trip to Italy, a visit to Napa Valley, or a special dinner. Get her a wine she had on the trip, drank on the visit or enjoyed at dinner. One of the great secrets of wine is that we remember wines not because they were especially good, but because of what we were doing and who we were with when we drank them.
• Can't find what Mom likes? Buy something like it, using price and style as a guide. Any $12 California merlot is going to be similar, regardless of producer.