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By Amy Simmons · October 26th, 2005 · Uncorked!

Although I'm a big fan of Halloween, I won't be giving you the finer points this week about great wine pairings with candy corn. In fact, I think it's time to begin to think about the holidays, replete with traditions, great food ... and wine. The search for the perfect gifts for the wine wonks in your life can be lots of fun. It's never too early to be thinking about great gifts. Given the plethora of gift ideas, I start my list in January for the end of the year. With much enthusiasm, I offer my Uncorked 2005 gift-giving guide for wine wonks.

Books are perhaps the wonk's favorite gift. As wine's popularity continues to grow, an increasing number of helpful guides and tutorials about wine and the various nuances within should be considered. Looking for something for a beginner? Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine Course (2006 edition), Great Wines Made Simple by Andrea Immer and The Wine Bible by Karen McNeil are great choices. For more advanced oenophiles, look for Elin McCoy's biography of Robert Parker in The Emperor of Wine or the offerings of Parker on wines of Bordeaux or the Rhone Valley.

If you know someone who's looking for a tool for shopping, Hugh Johnson's annual Pocket Wine Book is one of a number of handy books for trips to the wine store. For those who are more tech-savvy, The Wine Spectator offers a paid subscription service that can be downloaded to a cell phone.

Think about wine accoutrements, too -- the customized collections of wine stemware, corkscrews, themed clothing and housewares, and stocking stuffers like wine tags and label removers. Less is more when it comes to these items. One of my favorite gifts to give and receive are the cool neoprene wine bags from Built NY for those BYO occasions. These and other handy gift ideas can be found at wineenthusiast.com. Quality stemware is another, especially a couple of Spiegelau or Riedel glasses.

Finally, if you are completely stumped, don't overlook the simple gift of wine itself. What wine lover doesn't have a "wish list" of wines they'd love to try -- or let age for drinking on a special occasion? Next time you're in a wine store together, pay attention to what catches her or his eye. Make note of a few of these choices, and you'll be cherished. In case you're wondering, my lengthy list includes champagnes from 1990 and 1996. Happy shopping!

CONTACT AMY SIMMONS: letters(at)citybeat.com


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