Santa's naughty little helper.

Dear Santa . . . You've done it again—you've pissed away the entire month. And here it is, the eleventh freaking hour. Well, judging by the e-mail I received from last week's column, you're not alone; people are desperate for wine gifts. DEAR SANTA, My husband wants to learn more about wine, but he's not much of a reader. Any recommendations? MARIA MARIA, If you can pry him away from ESPN for a split second, he might enjoy PBS' wonderful video series Wine 101. This three-video set ($90) is narrated by David Hyde Pierce of TV's Frasier. You get background on all the major wine regions of the world, plus instruction on how to taste wine and what to look for. DEAR SANTA, Every time my boyfriend pours red wine, he drips a little on the table. Is there anything to prevent that? JILL JILL, It's far too late for prevention, but you might consider penicillin to stop that nasty dripping problem. How embarrassed your guests must be! Or you could invest in a set of Drip Savers. These handy little rings slip around the neck of the bottle, soaking up the wine that drips down ($20 for a set of two). DEAR SANTA, My father-in-law is just starting to enjoy wine. Is there anything I can do to make him happy? MARK MARK, You can quit posting pictures of his daughter on alt.binaries.erot-ic.blonds.spatula. If, by some odd coincidence, you're referring to wine, consider the New Bacchanales Tasting Kit ($95). This handy little chemistry set for grown-ups features a number of separate wine components (tannin, acid, oak, etc.) your dad-in-law can use to learn to identify the flavors in wine. DEAR SANTA, I know it's irrational, but I've harbored this secret fear for years that someday I'm going to open a bottle of champagne and the cork will fly out and hit me in the eye. Any remedies out there? CLAUDIA CLAUDIA, You mean, aside from the obvious suggestions of Jungian therapy or a hockey mask? Sure, Claudia, there's the handy, dandy Champagne Key ($15). This device looks like a nutcracker and makes it safe and easy to twist the under-pressure cork right out of the bottle. Fill my message box with holiday cheer! E-mail:

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