? The Napa Valley Register: The Wine Curmudgeon was stunned by these suggestions — New York riesling from Dr. Frank and Todd Kliman's "The Wild Vine," about as regional as wine gifts get. Several other good ideas, including a mini-vertical or mini-horizontal from your favorite wine or region. The former is the same wine from a couple of different vintages; the latter is the same vintage from a couple of different producers.
? Northwest Wine: The advice focuses on the Pacific Northwest, but the approach makes sense no matter where you live. Chocolate wine, anyone?
? The Guardian: The English newspaper includes a reciple for mulled wine, making it worthwhile just for that. The point here is not whether the suggested wines are available (though some are), but, again, the approach to take. There is good advice on buying pricy gifts, as well as one of my my favorites, buying wine at the local convenience store.
Want to buy Mom wine for Mother's Day? Or serve something she'll enjoy for brunch? The Wine Curmudgeon is ready, willing, and able. Keep in mind our wine gift-giving guidelines ("Don't buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like"), as well as these suggestions:
? Naked Grape Pinot Grigio 2009 ($8, sample): Pleasant pinot grigio, which isn't easy to do for less than $10. This California white has more lemon fruit than Italian versions, and is missing the off-flavors that frequently crop up.
? Robert Mondavi Private Selection Meritage 2009 ($11, sample): All in all, a well made $11 red blend. It has California-style black fruit, but not overdone, plus better balanced tannins than one usually finds at this price. There is even oak for people who like that sort of thing.
? $10 wine: Volteo, five Spanish wines that combine quality, value and approachability. I especially liked the tempranillo and a white blend made with viura, viognier and sauvignon blanc (which I haven't reviewed yet, and might be better than the tempranillo). These wines will likely end up in the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame.
? Regional wine: Have someone on your list who likes wine, but can be difficult to buy for? Then think regional. There is New York riesling, Texas viognier, Virginia red blends, Missouri norton, New Mexican sparkling, and Pennsylvania chambourcin — to name just a few.
? A top-flight corkscrew: The best corkscrews are double-hinged — the part of the corkscrew that rests against the top of the bottle has two parts, which makes pulling the cork that much easier. Best yet, they cost as little as $10.
? Expensive wine: My standby is Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet, a $50 wine that offers depth and complexity. It's white Burgundy, which means chardonnay, but not like chardonnay that most of us have ever had. My red wine choice is HDV's Belle Cousine, a $60 merlot blend from Napa made by Burgundy native Stephane Vivier.
Wine makes a wonderful present, and I say this not just because the Wine Curmudgeon likes to get wine as a gift (white Burgundy, if anyone is reading). That’s 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 — or anyone else, for any holiday or event, when it comes to it:
• 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.