Single Bottle Splurges: For reds (from most expensive to least), think Stag's Leap Cabernet, Argyle Pinot Noir or Silver Oak Cabernet. White wine lovers will drool over the likes of Kistler Vineyards Chardonnay, Mer de Soleil or Landmark Chardonnay. Some of the best bubblies come from Veuve Clicquot, Roederer, Schramsberg and Mumm Cuvee Napa. $20 and up.
Case o' Cheap but Good Wine: For a combo of quality and quantity, put together a mixed case of value wines from reliable wineries like Canyon Road, Bonny Doon, Fetzer, Rosemount and Cline.
Vino by Mail: Unlike many wine websites, Viansa winery (www.viansa.com; 800-995-4740) can legally ship wine to any state in the U.S. That's because Viansa's dee-licious wines are sold only at the winery. $11 and up. Visit www.wine.com to see if it ships to your gift-destination state (they only ship wine accessories to Georgia).
Winemaking Kit: Know someone who thinks he's the next Robert Mondavi? Home brewing shops and websites (www.beer-wine.com) offer do-it-yourself kits for about $50.
These are the things wine geeks long for, but seldom buy for themselves (available at www.wineenthusiast.com, www.iwawine.com and www.wine.com.) Decent Wine Glasses: Riedel makes some great (but pricey) ones, which are scientifically designed to make even bad wine taste better ($20-$85 per glass). For cheaper stemware, check out the Wine Enthusiast catalog's affordable knock-off versions.
Glass Charms: These nifty little ornaments fit around wine glass stems to help absent-minded drinkers keep track of their glasses at parties. $19.99-$24.95 a set.
Palm Software: Spare your favorite wino the hassle of lugging around a dog-eared wine book to every shop in town. WineScore's cool Palm device software lets ratings freaks tap into thousands of wine scores in the grocery store, wine shop or wherever. $25.
From any given crowd, there always emerges a jabbering wine idiot spewing half-truths about French appellation this, and single vineyard that. Do us all a favor and give the gift of knowledge.
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course 2002, Kevin Zraly, Sterling Publications. Kevin Zraly, wine educator at the ill-fated Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center, reigns as one of this country's gifted wine gurus. The book is fun, down-to-earth and free of pretension. Zraly makes wine look easy. $24.95.
Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine, Second Edition, Philip Seldon, Alpha Books. OK, the "idiot" thing is a bit hokey, but Seldon really knows his wine. The book starts with the complete basics and moves to higher-level wine peculiarities. Great starting point for the downright novice. $18.95.
101 Essential Wine Tips, Tom Stevenson, DK Publishing. Succinct and compact, this little book covers more detail than you might imagine. It walks you through the winemaking process, the different wine-producing areas, and how to buy wine. For the price, you can't go wrong. $4.95.
More wine education
For hands-on (or should we say "mouth-on") learning, sign your wine-loving friend up for a wine class or tasting event. For the scoop on what's happening across the country, visit www.localwine events.com or www.winebrats.org.
Taylor Eason is a regionally based wino who studied the juice in France and Italy. Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, write to Corkscrew, 1310 E. Ninth Ave., Tampa, FL 33605 or call 1-800-341-LOAF.