Fraught with peril is not a phrase usually associated with wine or gift giving. But when it comes to giving wine as a holiday gift, it’s an apt description.

Fortunately, help is here, with our more or less annual Holiday Gift Buying Guidelines and Helpful Suggestions. The first thing to know is that wine is not for everyone. A good friend of mine, a dentist, receives wine all of the time from professional colleagues. It usually ends up in his garage, since he prefers beer.

Assuming you know wine is a welcome gift, how can you tell what to buy? This is especially important given the wide range of tastes in wine, from quite sweet to bone dry, from red to white to pink. Compounding this problem is that people who like sweet usually don’t like dry, and vice versa. The obvious solution is to ask them (or their spouse or friends) or to pay careful attention when you see them drinking wine. But if you can’t do that (skulking around looking for wine clues can be a bit awkward), here are several wines that fit many situations:

Conundrum 2002 ($24). This California white wine is for people who don’t like white wine or prefer sweet wine or who think all white wine is Australian chardonnay. It’s a blend of five grapes, including chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, but is much softer than a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. Give it to a good friend, a spouse, or someone who had done you a big favor during the year.

Newton Claret 2001 ($22). This is not just a well-made wine, but a tremendous value. It’s a Bordeaux blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc) made in California that compares favorably to wines that cost one-third as much more. It’s the perfect gift for wine aficionados, who will be impressed with your wine acumen.

Osborne Solaz 2001 ($7). This Spanish wine may be the best red available for less than $10. Plus, it will appeal to wine drinkers of all sophistications. Bring it with you when you’re invited to dinner or give it to someone who has an interest in wine, but isn’t quite sure what they like.

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