A Guide To Buying + Gifting Napa Valley Wine

Perfect Match

Wine buying, like dating, can be a daunting prospect. Do ratings really matter? How much information is too much information? And how do you know when to really commit? Fortunately, Napa Valley wines offer a full spectrum of sure things, from the casual checkout purchase to the well-researched cellar dweller. But don’t just take our word for it. We tapped the impeccable taste of ACME Fine Wines owner Karen Williams, who kindly shared a few sage insider tips, as well as her bestsellers and personal favorites. Read on for our cheatsheet to buying and gifting Napa wines – it should help narrow the field to the very best fish in the sea at every price.

The Wines

Here For A Good Time: The Steal ($29 & Under)

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Dry, effervescent and pretty in pink, the Mumm Rosé is always an excellent party guest – and great to have on-hand for impromptu celebrations. (Buying by the case isn’t a bad idea!)

More Steals We Love:

Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon (*Karen’s Pick), Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Blackbird Arriviste Rosé, Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

Great Gift For:

The Hostess   •   The Co-Workers   •   The Social Drinker

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Whirlwind Romance: The Deal ($55 & Under)


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, year after year, the ‘Ol’ Pa’s Cuvée’ is our ‘Friday night in’ wine of choice. A tasty and reliable red blend, you’ll want to gift it to someone you like. A lot.

More Deals We Love:

Rafael et Fils Cabernet Sauvignon (*Karen’s Pick)D Cubed Brown Vineyard Zinfandel, Teeter Totter Cabernet SauvignonMi Sueño ‘El Llano’ Red WineLeviathan Red Wine

Great Gift For:

The Favorite Couple  •  The Manager  •  The Weekend Wino

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Wine Buying Tips from ACME Fine Wines

Karen Williams’ St. Helena shop is the kind of place we love to visit: beautifully curated, easy to navigate and staffed by knowledgeable wine lovers. Perhaps our favorite feature though, is the focus deservedly heaped on the winemakers. These are the Napa Valley rockstars, and no one does a better job of helping her clients connect palate and preference to makers and styles quite like ACME.

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Going Steady: The Mid-Range ($75 & Under)


When it comes to reds, Rudius winemaker Jeff Ames speaks our language. You can’t go wrong with any of his wines, but this is one of our favorites.

More Mid-Ranges We Love:

Apsara Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (*Karen’s Pick)Matthiasson Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Ladera Pillow Road Pinot Noir ‘S’Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 

Great Gift For:

The Good Friend  •  The Wine Student  •  The Boss

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We’re Exclusive: The Splurge ($125 & Under)


Winemaker Mike Smith’s exceptional vintages are picks you can take to the bank. In addition to charging less than he could for a famed Beckstoffer vineyard designation, he’s never made a wine we didn’t love.

More Exclusives We Love:

Orin Swift Cellars Mercury Head Cabernet, Gemstone Vineyard Estate Red Wine, Larkmead Cabernet SauvignonOdette Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 

Great Gift For:

The Best Friend  •  The Parents  •  The Collector

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ACME Fine Wines On Collecting

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Just Married: The Investment ($250+)


Expensive, exclusive and tough to track down, Abreu’s vintages check all the “cult wine” boxes. But the pure artistry involved in the tending and creation of these wines make them special occasion, cellar and investment-worthy. The best we’ve ever tasted, bar none.

More Investments We Love:

Crane Assembly Cabernet Sauvignon (*Karen’s Pick), Lail Vineyards J. Daniel Cuvée, BOND VecinaLokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 

Great Gift For:

The Better Half  •  The Person You Owe BIG TIME  •  The Master Somm-To-Be

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Shop More Wine Gifts…

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© Perfect Match: A Napa Wine Buying Guide | Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.