No matter how many times I try to tell people that there is no “right” wine to buy, for some reason no one believes me. Add to that the pressure of picking the right gift, and the prospects become positively terrifying. At the end of the day, however, wine choices, like most other gifts, are a matter of individual preference and often highly subjective. With that caveat, the following are some wine-related gift ideas that are almost fail-safe:
The worst part about wineglasses is that they are fragile and breakable. The best part of about wineglasses is that they are fragile and breakable and are therefore always a lovely gift to receive. My favorite in the luxe category are the glasses from the Riedel Sommelier series, but there are others that are just as sophisticated in both appearance and touch, while being somewhat kinder to your wallet and a bit sturdier in the sink, such as Schott and Spiegelau. Alternatively, you can opt for the stemware without stems and get those Riedel O glasses, which I love to use for casual events or as elegant water glasses at more formal gatherings.
What to get for that wine lover who already has a cellar full of high-end bottles and a cabinet full of crystal stemware and decanters? A high-end corkscrew, of course. Laguiole makes corkscrews that sommeliers covet. (Be aware, however, they do not come cheap.)
Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Sekt, or Schramsberg (my bias showing here; Schramsberg is my favorite California sparkler). Any one of these would make a wine lover giggle with pleasure. My favorites are the smaller grower-producer Champagnes (designated as RM at the corner of the label, as opposed to NM for the large houses), such as Rene Geoffroy or Pierre Gimmonet, but every sparkler is born to be festive. If you fear selecting a clunker, wrap it alongside a bottle of Naked Juice Orange Juice. Everyone loves mimosas, even wine snobs.
Did you know that all 50 states make wine? Even if the wine itself may not be the best thing anyone has tasted, wine lovers are "experience collectors", and consequently yearn for things they have not tried before. I may not want cases of pineapple Chardonnay from Hawaii or Sangiovese from Texas, but I will always crave a taste of something new. Interesting, unusual wine makes for an interesting, unusual gift.
Artisanal beer, single malt scotch, blue agave anejo tequila, or a daiginjo sake. Wine lovers are quite democratic when it comes to other forms of alcohol, particularly tasty ones.