People who love wine do not want wine gifts. Ignore all aerators, corkscrew-and-stopper sets, mini-racks, hydraulic preserver systems, argon preserver systems, floaty-plastic preserver systems, vacuum-principle preserver systems, cutesy signs about drinking habits or sofas made out of corks. If you need to stuff a stocking, a classic, manual waiter’s friend opener will do – that, or a candy bar.

People who love wine want wine. A well-chosen book, or a beautiful and expensive pair of glasses are the main exceptions. Otherwise, give actual wine.

With that affirmed, we must turn to the central problem a gift giver who is not a wine lover faces in presenting wine to a wine lover: the prospect of failing to appreciate and penetrate the recipient’s level of geekiness.

Like all sorts of obsessives, wine lovers are particular, fussy, self-circumscribed. Most of the time we don’t know our loved ones’ desires quite well enough, so the speaker cable for the audiophile, or the lens for the manual photographer, or the ink for the pen nut ends up a dismal miss. He will count your thought, yes, but he will sigh a bit inside and wish without grace that he’d received a bundle of cash so he could have bought the right thing.

A fervidly materialist society such as ours leads to such pettiness. But wine holds enough variety, and enough inherent provision of pleasure, that our chances for getting a loved or liked oenophile a bottle she will genuinely appreciate are a bit better than for aficionados of other fanatic-attracting pursuits.

The trick, I’ve found, is to find some slender facet of the recipient’s wine interest and appeal to it from a different angle. If a gal is really into Bordeaux, the Bordeaux you get her will likely fail to meet some criterion or other. Instead, get her a top-tier “Bordeaux blend” from Argentina, which uses the same building blocks as the original – cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot – grown in a drier climate with more diurnal temperature fluctuation due to higher-altitude vineyards.

In this vein, I’m especially taken by the wines from Weinert and Alma Negra, and with price no object, the Terrazas Cheval des Andes, but there are other options as well.

If a guy is fascinated with zinfandel, the very first paragraph of Wikipedia will tell you that this echt-American grape is actually descended from the Croatian tribidrag. So, hop online and find a tribidrag wine (alas, none are yet available in Maine), tell a bit of the story (again: Wikipedia) and watch your friend’s eyes light up.

Someone who’s “into cabs” likely adores wines of cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley, California. Offer instead a firm, captivating cabernet from South Africa. The Stark-Condé from Stellenbosch is lovely, just pricey enough to be special (it’s around $23), serious but immediately inviting. Boekenhoutskloof, in the Franschhoek Valley, makes a cabernet sauvignon ($50) that is way more of … everything; elegant and deeply savory, a 100 percent new-oak cab that will – actually, must – age magnificently.

Wines with age always have the best chance of satisfying a demanding wino. Great old wines can be hard to find, but most retailers have something good lying around, maybe in a box in the basement. There’s got to be a great German spätlese riesling they couldn’t sell, two random bottles of Brunello di Montalcino that fell off the radar, some fantastic Douro red from Portugal that no one bought when it was released four years ago because too many customers think Portugal is only about low-priced wine.

Trust me: Shopkeepers, always squeezed for shelf space and pained to see wines they love get passed over month after month, are thrilled if you ask what they finally placed in “the box” in the basement.

If you can’t lay hands on a reliable old wine, buy a wine that is meant to get old. For dry reds, I can’t think of a better category than Sagrantino di Montefalco, the great but fiercely tannic deep red of central Italy’s Umbria. I’ve never enjoyed a 100 percent sagrantino less than 20 years old, but the three I’ve had past that point were revelations. Milziade’s 2009 expression ($60) is monumentally resonant, suggestive of true greatness; Colpetrone’s 2008 ($21) is more straightforward, but still structured and massive.

For whites to age, JJ Prum’s rieslings are famously firm and slow to develop. So are wines from Savennières, the Loire’s infamously befuddling region for austere, compacted chenin blanc; buy Closel’s Jalousie 2013 ($27) or anything else you can find.

All of Donnhoff’s rieslings touch the mystical: an Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spätlese 2013 ($53) will bring tears 15 to 30 years from now; his dry Grosses Gewachs wines (the 2011s are currently available, from various single vineyards, for $70 each) could go that long, too, but will convince nonbelievers as well as the devout in as few as eight or so years.

Finally, it’s funny but the wines with possibly the least chance of failing as gifts lie in those categories most often disregarded: dessert-level sweet wines and Champagne. For the latter, ask your shopkeeper for wines made by the grape-growers.

Grower-produced Champagne is necessarily made on a small scale, and reflects individual parcels of land in Champagne in a way that will thrill the object of your holiday affection, even at the Brut level.

The bigger brands – or Grandes Marques – of Champagne, such as Dom Perignon, Krug, Delamotte and Billecart-Salmon produce a more uniform product that will likely be less well appreciated as gifts, but vintage wines or other more select offerings from those producers are extraordinary and basically fail-proof.

Sweet wines are delicious, luxurious, offbeat and age tremendously well. What more could a wine lover want? Tokaji, the great Hungarian wine region, produces some of the most exquisite wines on earth; I can’t imagine someone receiving something like the Királyudvar Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($77) without joy.

Sweet sherry is another easy grand slam; try the Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial for $17. Madeira, too, is bombproof, either through the replica-style route of the Rare Wine Co.’s Historic Series ($52, for a variety of extraordinary expressions of this magical wine) or the super-old (in some cases more than 100 years old) vintage wines of D’Oliveira.

There’s an additional benefit to giving wine that comes from an unexpected angle. Your loved one will recognize that you did a little more work than would have been required of someone picking something from a top 10 list or Amazon-suggested page.

This will potentially break open your friend’s self-imposed wine solipsism, the whole I’m-the-only-one-who-gets-it-at-this-level thing, and he will see that he can share.

And so the bottle you give might just turn out to be something you get to try, and love, yourself.

Joe Appel is the wine buyer at Rosemont Market. He can be reached at:

[email protected]

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