My general standby no-fail gifts for the wine lover in your life, regardless of whether that person happens to be a beginner, intermediate or advanced wine geek, are always sparkling wine (Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Cremant, Sekt, California, New Mexico, or Virginia) and Riedel stemware (stem optional). Having said that, if you decide you would like to focus more narrowly into that person’s individual preferences, here are some suggestions to consider on both ends of the cost spectrum. My rule of thumb is that wine novices will generally love the expensive label, whereas experienced wine drinkers – although they too will love the luxe selections – are more likely to revel in discovering hidden gems, particularly those with a bargain price tag.
For the Pinot Noir Fan
If money is no object, go for the 2006 Domaine de la Romanée Conti (“DRC”) Richebourg Grand Cru for $900 (available at K&L Wine Merchants, 415-896-1734, www.klwines.com). If you are considering this option, you must be desperately in love or desperate to impress. Either way, I am envious of the recipient already. Alternatively, try the 2008 Domaine Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru “Clos St. Jean” for $30. Both options will deliver the mineral elegance of Burgurdian Pinot Noir.
For the Cabernet Devotee
If you are willing to splurge, go for the 1961 Lafite Rothschild for $1,000. In the past few years, I have gotten a little fatigued of big red wines, but for this one, I will make an exception. Alternatively, you could be just as impressive with the newer style, robust Bordeaux and opt for a 2007 Château Margaux or a 2007 Mouton-Rothschild, each for $400. I would also be quite happy to receive a Talbot, Château Palmer, or Clerc-Milon from any decent Bordeaux vintage, which can run anywhere from about $50-$200, depending on the selected vintage.
For the Sweet Tooth Addict
If you are in the mood to be extravagant, go for the 2001 Château d’Yquem for $1,000. You cannot go wrong with the king of Sauternes, and this one will keep for decades. Or you can still be luxurious without breaking the bank with a 2007 JJ Christoffel Riesling Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese for $70. If your lucky gift recipient is patient, he or she can wait until the wine starts accumulating that classic Riesling petrol perfume, which is literally intoxicating. I would honestly be thrilled to receive either one as a gift.
For the White Wine Enthusiast
If you win the lottery and want to be really nice to your best friend the wine lover, you might go for the 2002 DRC Montrachet for a whopping $5,400. For the rest of us mere mortals, the 2006 Domaine Louis Carillon & Fils Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Perrières” for $80 is a truly beautiful example of what the Chardonnay grape can be.
For the Adventurous
This category is the most fun because there are so many choices, and most are not outrageously priced. The first of the two gift recommendations for the adventurous wine lover is the 2006 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd M, which, if you can find it, runs about $70. The concentrated stone fruit, butterscotch, cashew nuts, and pineapple flavors of this wine will make you forget that you ever considered Grüner Veltliner to be a thin, watery varietal. Alternatively, go for the most recent vintage of Born Muroka Nama Genshu Junmai Daiginjo sake (bright blue bottle with gold lettering), which runs about $45. The Born namazake has a very unique milk chocolate finish while retaining all of the crisp refreshing tropical fruit notes characteristic of a daiginjo sake and pairs with sushi, pork belly, caviar, and even turkey.