It is certainly true you don’t need to spend more than $15 or $20 to drink good wine, which is why we focus on those categories all year long. Better wines are made today than in any time in history, with the most dramatic improvement at the lower end of per-bottle costs. That said, there is a time and place for more expensive wines, too, and for many that time is now, because fine wines can offer such a convenient solution for holiday gifting. Not only is wine easy to wrap and just as appropriate for colleagues as for family and friends, but truly special wines can be memorable experiences that spread the warm and social spirit of the season. Though most wine styles can come in such a wide range of prices no one can be sure what price was paid, there are a few “blue chip” categories that make popular gifts because they always cost more and are rarely found under $50. Classic examples include French Champagne and Italian Amarone, but Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon tops the gravitas chart among American wines. Dark, rich, and velvety, top-notch wines like this one make the quality of their ingredients and craftsmanship known with decadent flavors of berries, cherries, and mocha that reverberate on the palate for minutes after each sip. They make a perfect gift for red wine lovers who might not splurge on themselves but who deserve a touch of luxury in their lives.
Clos du Val Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Calif. $43.99 (regularly $49.99; sale price through Dec. 31). PLCB Item #2257.