Natalie's Top Ten Gift Wines for Your ...
1. Hairdresser: For the person who combines humor and optimism every time she styles your mop. Go for a light, gulpable wine like a dry rosé. It's versatile and fuss-free—a great quaff for your coif.
2. Psychiatrist: Of course, he'll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that's all about balance. Easy-drinking pinot noir is medium-bodied yet packed with flavor. Surprise him with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Big thinking means big progress for you. This wine also works for psychologists, marriage counselors and bartenders.
3. The Boss: Pick too pricey a wine and your boss will think your last raise was too much; go cheap, and she'll think you lack judgement. Focus on a label with a lot of white space since that makes the bottle look more expensive. A castle in the distance also works, but avoid fluffy animals.
4. Personal Trainer: Think a muscular, robust red would work? Hold that position. Instead, try riesling: this light white wine pairs well with a health-nut diet of salad and seafood, plus it's low in alcohol. You can also give it to Pilates instructors, yoga masters and Tai Chi coaches.
5. Financial Planner: You and he both know it's going to take decades before your portfolio recovers after the crash of 2008. With that long-term view, vintage port makes the perfect gift. This fortified wine from northern Portugal, with its long aging potential, will be around for both of you into your retirements.
6. Travel Agent: She's been everywhere and seen everything, so go local with your choice of wine. Even better, if you live close to the winery, get the bottle signed by the winemaker.
7. Teacher: If you can't find a suitably obscure wine with a Latin name, there's always cream sherry. It's the tipple of Oxford dons, not to mention the centerpiece of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story The Case of the Amontillado.
8. Mail Deliverer: Go for a winery that's consistent year after year in producing a wine that can be enjoyed in snow, rain, sleet or hail. Try an Australian shiraz or Argentine malbec.
9. Mechanic: Yes, there's a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not give a wine made by Mario Andretti in California or Ferrari in Italy?
10. Online Date: So you're on your second or third rendezvous with the person you met on eHarmony or Dating.com. If you're not sure yet whether marriage is a possibility, try something middle-of-the-road, like merlot. Yes, it's the soft jazz of wine, but until you know, play it safe.
And after all that shopping, don't forget yourself: even Santa's little helpers need more than milk and cookies. Try something with high-alcohol like Italian Amarone or Rhone syrah: these big reds easily drown out tone-deaf caroling and pair beautifully with tired feet.
Natalie MacLean is an independent journalist and author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over. More than 115,000 wine and food lovers subscribe to her free monthly e-newsletter. For Google searches on popular terms like "food and wine matching" and "wine newsletter," Natalie's site is often on the first page of the results as it has become a go-to resource for food and wine lovers. Nat was named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. She is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International: