For the Entertainer
There is no such thing as having too much glassware—avoid party breakage and make life easier by choosing dishwasher-safe options that still feel nice. Fusion Classic glasses (about $8.50 per stem) are remarkably sturdy, and we've long been a fan of the slightly more delicate (but still dishwasher-safe) Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Forte
collection. (About $10 per stem)
Compare and Contrast
Buy your favorite wine lover a flight of bottles that will allow them to explore one type of wine more deeply. For example, find a bottle of German riesling (such as something from Selbach-Oster) to compare to an Austrian (perhaps Schloss Gobelsburg) and a domestic option from New York or Washington State (try Sheldrake Point or Poet's Leap.) Or get Cru Beaujolais from France to compare with California's Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly Gamay. And if you really want to be nice, gather three grower Champagnes, one based on Chardonnay, one made with mostly (or all) Pinot Noir, and another based on Pinot Meunier. Be sure to get invited over to taste them, too!
For the Collector
Part of the fun of drinking wine is seeing how it develops with age—but that's only possible with proper storage. There are a wide variety of wine coolers available, but if that's not big enough, consider buying your favorite wine lover offsite temperature-controlled storage. (In New York, we've heard good things about Acker, in the Bay Area, K&L Wine Merchants offers lockers.)
Keep a bottle cool when you're serving it, or chill down a bottle you forgot to stick in the fridge. The Screwpull Wine cooler sleeve ($15) is big enough to fit around wide Champagne bottles, and offers direct contact that chills the wine much faster than the fridge or freezer alone. Or score a vintage Champagne bucket from eBay or Etsy.
For Swirling and Sniffing
Sometimes the best gift is something you wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself—something indulgent and fancy, like these delicate pulled-stem Riedel Vitis
glasses (shown at right next to the Schott Zweisel Forte). In my experience these elegant glasses ($70 for a set of two) are a joy to drink from, enhancing the wine's aroma and flavor. Plus, they're gorgeous—just make sure you have a really tall cabinet to store them in.
For the reader
The new introduction alone makes the paperback edition of importer Terry Theise's Reading Between the Wines worth picking up. This lyrical collection of musings on wine's meaning is a must-read for wine lovers. Alice Feiring's latest, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally
, takes readers behind the scenes of the natural wine movement from France and Spain to California, introducing them to colorful characters (and unusual small-production wines) along the way.