Of all the people on your holiday gift list, wine lovers are usually fairly easy to please. Why? Because true fans of the grape appreciate wines in every price range. Don't want to give a bottle? There are also books, wine glasses, corkscrews and other gadgets to choose from. Hate shopping? Go to the Web, pour yourself a glass of wine and make your purchases with a click of the mouse. Books
"Wine Heritage: The Story of Italian-American Vintners,"
by Dick Rosano (The Wine Appreciation Guild, San Francisco, 2000, $29,95,). This new, well-researched hardback book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in American wine history. The author delves deep into the achievements of the Mondavi, Foppiano, Seghesio, Sebastiani and Gallo families (among others), and pays well-deserved homage to the vital role they've played in the growth of the American wine industry. "Wine Lover's Companion: Comprehensive Definitions for More than 3500 Wine-Related Terms,"
by Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst, (Barron's, 1995, $13.95). This paperback guide isn't new, but it is still one of the best resources around for quick hits of information that won't bog you down. Bottles
1993 Champagne Pol Roger Brut, $59
An affordable luxury, this straw-colored elixir has fine bubbles and a pleasing aroma of toast and citrus. Dry, bracing and elegant, it makes a lovely apéritif (or gift). Looking for something a little less pricey? Try the Pol Roger Brut nonvintage, $30. Want a romantic rosé Champagne? Reach for Pol Roger Brut Rosé, $63. With its fine bubbles, faint strawberry nose and creamy bubbles, it's a truly seductive offering. 1989 Pommery Louise, $125
This tˆte de cuvée from the house of Pommery is a sophisticated bubbly blended from pinot noir and chardonnay. Louise has mild aromas of tropical fruits and flowers; on the palate it's full, rich and round with plenty of backbone. Give it (or buy it for your own cellar) to celebrate anything and everything. The white gift box makes a nice presentation, too. Note: If the 1989 Louise is not available at your favorite wine shop, opt for the crisp, dry 1995 Pommery Brut Grand Cru, $ 55
or the festive, but very affordable, Pommery Brut Royal nonvintage, $33
. 1999 Beringer Founder's Estate Chardonnay, $11
Rich, full-bodied and redolent of oak and vanilla, this is what I would describe as "classic California chardonnay." A lovely gift for white wine lovers. 1997 Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyards Merlot, $26
Rich and velvety but not flabby this luscious California red has hints of vanilla, ripe cherry and chocolate. Try it with the holiday roast, if you can't bear to give it away
. 2000 Georges duBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, $8.99
Sometimes Beaujolais Nouveau is thin and acidic, but not this year. The 2000 vintage is bursting with ripe cherry flavors with just enough acidity to make this a tasty match to grilled sausages, pté, baked ham and other holiday buffet offerings. Stuff
Go to www.cutlerytogo.com/lagcor.html
to view a wide range of Laguiole's fine cutlery and corkscrews. The Laguiole Sommeliers corkscrew in olivewood ($140) is a classic. And for the person with everything? A Champagne sabre ($250), for slashing off the top of a bottle of bubbly in dramatic fashion.