Still searching for that perfect Mother's Day gift? If the recipient is into wine, you're in luck: There's a near-endless list of readily available options. You can go general (a nice Champagne or glassware) or really personalize it.
That doesn't mean brands such as "Mommy's Time Out" or "Bitch." It does mean stuff like this:
If she's fond of mimosas: "Upgrade" her to Bellinis, a blend of Prosecco and white peach juice or nectar. The Mionetto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore drinks way above its $19 price tag, with plenty of crispness and verve.
If she's a longtime chardonnay drinker but is getting tired of it: Go for a blend that includes some chard but also some firm, vibrant, floral white grapes. The Banfi Centine Toscana (with sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio, $12) and the Beringer Alluvium (with sauv blanc, semillon and viognier, $16) are so nicely priced you could consider nabbing one of each.
If she's a nature lover: The sustainable, biodynamic movement is in full force in the wine world, and one of the first and foremost practitioners was Nicolas Joly in France's Loire region. The fabulous N. Joly Savennières Les Clos Sacrés ($53) is filled with vim and vigor, a chenin blanc that embodies the soil from which it sprang. Same goes for any and all of the less spendy wines from California's Tablas Creek or Frog's Leap wineries.
If she's a moscato fan but only buys the cheap stuff: The Saracco Moscato d'Asti ($18) has all of the vivid, pure fruit that the growing legion of moscato devotees adore, but adds some fizzy oomph and sensuous texture. Tasty backup options from Down Under: Two Hands "Brilliant Disguise" and Innocent Bystander.
If she likes big reds from California: Show her what Washington's got. Long Shadows hires a different vintner for each wine, to superlative results. The Pedestal Merlot, Sequel Syrah, Feather Cabernet Sauvignon and Pirouette red blend (all $50 to $55) are rich and rustic, big but elegant and just plain delicious.
If she really enjoys cooking: Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have written two definitive guides to pairing wine and other food: "The Food Lover's Guide to Wine" or "What to Drink With What You Eat" ($35 each).
If she's a jogger/exercise buff: I've always enjoyed the soda-poppy New Age white from Argentina after mowing the lawn. But a better option for the weight-conscious, because of less sugar and it just tastes healthier, is picpoul de pinet. Among several great possibilities in the $10 to $15 range: Foncalieu Cuvee Prestige Languedoc and the Domaine Reine Juliette, both almost impossibly refreshing.
If she loves all things Minnesotan: The state's wine industry might have a ways to go to catch up with California or Washington, but it has made great strides in the past decade. So combine a nice springtime Sunday drive with a winery visit. Swell destinations include Parley Lake in Waconia, Saint Croix Vineyards in Stillwater, Alexis Bailly in Hastings and many others.
If you like your mother-in-law: Show her what all the fuss over Oregon pinot noir is about, with something from Le Cadeau, Domaine Serene or Raptor Ridge -- all owned by former or current Minnesotans.
If you don't like your mother-in-law: Buy yourself some MD 20-20 and quaff away. No, do the same as if you like her, but maybe don't spend as much. The Montoya Monterey pinot is a stone-cold delight at $15.
Bill Ward • firstname.lastname@example.org