A few ideas for the wine drinkers on your list. Some general pointers:
? Don’t forget the wine gift-giving guidelines: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them wine they will like.”
? The Champagne and sparkling wine glossary to make sense of cava and cremant and all the rest.
? Most gadgets never get used after the first couple of times. My rule of thumb: Is the gadget worth its price in quality $10 wine; that is, is a $40 gadget worth four bottles of wine?
Suggestions after the jump:
? A wine opener. I prefer the traditional waiter ?s corkscrew, but if you aren ?t quite confident enough to use it, there is the Metrokane Rabbit ($50). It ?s a gear-and-lever opener, and seems to last a little longer than most (and the 10-year warranty isn ?t bad, either).
? Wine. The blog ?s expensive wine category is a good place to start. One wine that I haven ?t reviewed, but saved for this post: the 2008 Allegrini Pallazo della Torre ($20, sample), with an almost raisiny aroma, red fruit, and a note of herbs and cooking spices. Also consider helping someone upgrade their palate. If they like a certain $15 cabernet sauvignon, buy them a more expensive version of that wine, and not necessarily from the same region.
? Regional wine. Anyone can give a bottle of California wine, no? Follow the same guidelines as for any other wine gift ? don ?t buy someone sweet wine who doesn ?t like it, and vice versa. And a special recommendation for the new version of the pocket-sized ?Texas Wineries ? ($7.50), written by Barry Shlachter and Amy Culbertson. Amy, of course, was the food editor at the Star-Telegram newspaper in Fort Worth who named me the Wine Curmudgeon.
? Sparkling wine. You don ?t have to buy the same brand names year after year, not when there are so many terrific bubblies out there (as you ?ll find in the blog ?s sparkling wine category). If you insist on the latter, don ?t overlook Delamotte and Pol Roger, both of which are more interesting than the Champagne that everyone else buys.