I need some advice on a gift. I want to give my friends a nice bottle of red wine, something in the $40 range retail. Any ideas? I know *nothing* about wine. Please help!
Wide-open field...If you have a wine seller you trust, my best advice would be to consult with him/her. If 100 Chowhounds give you a suggestion, you'll have 100 different (albeit excellent) suggestions, with no guarantee that you can actually lay hands on a given bottle. If you go to your local wine shop, the wine's right there...you might even get a taste.
I've received gifts of wine from Windsor Vineyards. I know fairly little about wine (I'm learning), but was directed to Windsor by my father.
I (and every one of my dinner guests) have consistently enjoyed everything I've opened from them, and their customer service is good.
Two thoughts. You can probably find a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape for around $40 which would be appreciated. For yourself, if there's a Trader Joe's around, you can pick up a couple of bottles of Black Mountain Meritage 2000 for about $5.99 @. Not too complex but very drinkable and as such a pretty good value.