Christmas Gift Giving

A bottle of wine may be the go-to gift for any wine-loving friend or difficult relative, but choosing a bottle is not always easy. Here are some suggestions that may be of some help when buying wine as a gift.

Do Your Homework

There are lots of web sites, blogs and educators who can help with recommendations so if you’re feeling lost, do some research before you start shopping. Vintage guides, which are often available at your wine seller, will tell you what is currently available for drinking now or what will make a great addition to someone’s cellar.

Avoid Brand Bias

Selecting famous vintner names may be tempting but you will end up paying a premium. Find something more unique from a region with a similar climate using the same grapes. While wines from France may be supreme, you will typically pay  premium prices for them.  You may get an equally good, but lesser known wine for less cost. For example, a Merlot from Chile will be a great alternative to Bordeaux, while a New Zealand Pinot Noir could be chosen in place of a Burgundy.

Accept Advice

Asking the store clerk for assistance can be most helpful.  They will likely be highly educated and have tasted the full range so can give you the best service and tailor their knowledge to your desires. I have a go-to guy at the store I most often frequent, who I rely on for suggestions and answers to my questions.

Consider Food Pairing

Often people will enjoy a glass of wine alongside a nice meal, so take this into consideration when buying a loved one a bottle of wine for a special occasion. If you know their favourite dish, consider selecting a bottle that will pair nicely with that dish.

Selecting by Appearance

While an appealing label can make an attractive gift, it doesn’t say anything about the wine in the bottle. Be sure to read the fine print as this will reveal the most about what to expect from the wine and the story of its production. Anyone can pay for premium design work but it’s the winemaker who makes a product great.

The Price Point

Don’t be sucked into selecting a wine based on a display setting or sales promotion.  Often these will be items that the merchant is trying to get rid of for various reasons.  Such wines are not necessarily right for you. Don’t be distracted by discount tags and take your time to scour the shelves to find the perfect bottle for the right price.

Who doesn’t like a bargain?  However, a bottle on sale does not necessarily mean that it’s a great deal.  Don’t just automatically go for the best deal; be sure to browse the wine offerings fully to find the right bottle for the right price.

Likewise, the best bottle within your allocated budget might not be the one that reaches the upper limit of your price range. Many factors come into the pricing of wine, including production style, bottling processes, taxes and demand for that type of wine.  As a result, there will be some variation between prices of similar wines. Price does not always correlate with quality, and so, if you select a bottle from a unique region or variety, you may be able to find a wine that is a better value for your money.

Gift Packages

Gift packages may not be a good idea.  They are designed to look appealing but looks can be deceiving.  When buying prepackaged gift sets, it is best if you are familiar with at least the winery, if not the wine itself.  That way you have a better understanding of the quality of the gift you are giving.  Case in point, a few years ago I couldn’t resist buying a Bordeaux set that included 2 bottles of wine and an irresistible wooden case that they were contained in.  As it turned out, it was an expensive box as the wine was mediocre at best.

If the idea of providing a wood box is appealing, I suggest selecting the wine of your choice and purchase a gift container separately.  Your local retailer may have suitable containers for sale.

Too Many Choices

If the number of wine varieties is too many to fathom, making the decision too daunting, rather than being overwhelmed and selecting a bottle at random, maybe take a different approach and choose an accessory for your wine-loving friend, such as a corkscrew or wine stopper.

I wish you great success with your Christmas shopping adventures.  Whatever you decide, it will be the right decision for you.

Sláinte mhaith

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