Wine's almost always a welcome gift at holiday time. Even if the giftee isn't a partaker, he or she can always serve it to guests or — one suspects — regift it to someone who will appreciate it.
There are a couple of things to consider in giving wine. The first is price. In a perfect world, giving a really excellent wine would be the only criterion. But the world isn't perfect. So first you have to consider the appropriate price range, then look for the best wine in it.
Give your boss a $5 wine, and you might stall your career. Give her or him a too-expensive wine, and there may seem no reason to give you a raise in 2013. So choose appropriately.
Second, we're getting closer to the time when one can give a screw-cap wine as a gift. Some of the finest sauvignon blancs from New Zealand come that way. Even Napa's 2009 Cade Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon comes in a screw cap, in a $300 boxed set with a regular corked bottle.
Still, screw-cap gift wines even today probably must be limited to giftees who will understand their value, and not think you a piker.
Anyway, here are some holiday wine-gift suggestions in various price ranges.
2011 Pali Wine Company "Alphabets" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley: crisp and bright, with black cherry and espresso flavors; $21.
2010 William Hill Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley: hint of oak, ripe pear flavors, rich and full and dry; $25.
2012 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc: light and lean, with gunflint and grassy notes in the Loire Valley style; $15.
2010 Yarden Kosher Chardonnay, Golan Heights, Israel: aromas and flavors of peaches, mangos and pineapples, crisp and full-bodied; $19.
2010 Kendall-Jackson "Vintner's Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County: soft and mellow, with aromas and flavors of black plums and licorice; $19.
$30 to $49:
2010 Laguna Chardonnay, Russian River Valley: golden apple and cinnamon aromas and flavors, rich and crisp; $35.
2009 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, "Stagecoach Vineyard," Napa Valley: rich and full and dry, with aromas and flavors of black raspberries and espresso; $45.
2009 Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel, Napa Valley: hint of oak, full-bodied and rich, with black raspberry and mocha flavors; $35.
2010 Gallo Signature Series Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands: hint of oak, floral aromas, powerful flavors of black raspberries and licorice; $35.
$50 and over:
2006 Murphy-Goode "Homefront Cuvee" Merlot, Howell Mountain, North Coast: Made to honor America's troops, it is rich and mellow and smoky, with black cherry flavors; $55.
2007 Dolce Late Harvest Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc white dessert wine: crisp and sweet and opulent and creamy, with aromas and flavors of peaches and pineapples; $85 per half bottle.
2010 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley: big and powerful and complex, with ripe flavors of oranges and lemons and a tart finish; $50.
2009 Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled, Napa Valley: big and rich and hearty, with aromas and flavors of black plums and mocha, powerful; $75.