Go With the Accoutrerments
I avoid giving gifts of wine to folks who are serious wine people. This is largely the case because I can’t afford to do it really well. And whether mentioned very often, I think this dilemma surely is noticed by others too.
What kind of a wine to do you give a person who is a confirmed wino? To have any meaning it really must be something that is either coveted though not obtained by the person or altogether unexpected and delightful. The former is likely very expensive because if it is coveted, though not obtained, it’s likely rare. As for the latter, you can rule out any wine that is in common and ample distribution. It doesn’t fall into the category of delightful to this person. And while the recipient my not expect to get a 3 liter bottle of Two Buck Chuck, you still have the "delightful" aspect to deal with.
Wine "buying" is different than "wine sharing". Sharing is in large part the very purpose of keeping wine after you get by the fact that you prefer it to water and soda with food. But "buying" is really a singular pursuit isn’t it. Part of the fun is the chase, the discovery and even the satisfaction with finally taking the step of obtaining that which you’ve coveted or discovered.
It has always seemed to me that to really do a good job of giving wine to a full fledged wine lover one must be willing to spend and spend liberally.
But if the idea is to present your best friends and family with a gift of meaning (and I think this really should be the case) it’s much easier to offer the wine lover something coveted though not obtained or altogether unexpected and delightful without going the wine route. (One note: for those who are simply casual wine drinkers, a good bottle of wine can be a fine gift.)
However, this does not mean that a wine related gift isn’t a good idea for the wine loving friends and family on your list. In fact, it’s a great idea and allows far more creativity on the part of the gift-giver.
Among the wine related gifts I prefer to give are:
Rare or First Edition Wine-Related Books. My favorite online place to look for such edition is Alibris and AbeBooks. Both these sites allow fairly detailed searches that will, I guarantee, turn up volumes of great interest to any wine lover.
Old Wine Paraphanalia. Cork Screws, glasses, funnels, decanters, wine buckets, even framed labels or box ends from early 20th century wines. These are often harder to come by. Online one can find them at Wine Antiuques, Bacchus Antiques, and Butler’s Antiques.
You will be surprised. Though possible to spend serious money in either of these categories, it is quite possible to find a really delightful item that is affordable.
Don’t bother with wine for the wine lover. Go with the accoutrement.