27 April, 2010
A gift of wine.
Gift giving can be a challenge and I often turn to wine. But picking the right bottle (or bottles) can still be tricky business. Here are some hints that help.
Set a budget.
It doesn't take long to over spend on a bottle (or bottles) of wine. And it doesn't always make sense to overspend when your wine is going to be served along side hot dogs and hamburgers (in that case, I'd give a great craft brew, but that's another story). On the other hand, you don't want to bring Two Buck Chuck to a dinner party, unless you know it's the recipient's favorite. There are no hard and fast rules about what to spend. However, I typically spend at least as much as I would spend on myself. If the the receiver is particularly into wine, I'll increase that amount and spend as much as I would on a special occasion wine for myself. If you're still not sure, spend about $20. You'll get better than average bottle.
You don't need to know a lot about wine to pick something that fits the recipient's personality or taste. It could be as simple as knowing they prefer red, white or sparkling. Or there could be something about the wine name or label that reminds you of the recipient. At a recent bridal shower for one of the members of my wine club, we were asked to bring a wine that reminded us of the bride. There were two predominant themes: Malbec and bubbly. We all knew the bride loved the blue fruit flavors of Malbec and she received several bottles of various brands. Others thought of the bride's bubbly and joyous personality and brought something that sparkled. Either way, each gift giver had a way to connect the wine to the bride.
Tell a story.
Give the wine a purpose. I recently gave a friend and her future husband a few bottles for their first year of married life. I matched each wine to an occasion which they could open it. For example: a malbec for the first time they fire up the grill, a pinot noir for their first Thanksgiving, and a sparkling wine for their first anniversary. At the bridal shower for me and my husband, everyone knew we were going to Italy on our honeymoon so they all chipped in and bought us an Italian wine tasting. In both instances, the gift wasn't just a bottle of wine, it was an experience.
Whet the appetite.
Or in this case the palate. Even if you're unsure of the bottle you've purchased, you can create excitement for the bottle with some tasting notes. For the gift I gave to the friend and her future husband I found tasting notes online for each of the bottles. Some well written notes gets the receiver excited and adds to the experience. It's an extra step that takes little time and brings a special touch to your gift.
When all else fails.
Buy Champagne. Or any sparkling wine for that matter (only sparkling wine from the region of Champagne can carry this name.) In my opinion, we don't drink enough sparkling wine. All too often we only associate it with special occasions yet it is one of the most versatile wines there is. It goes with almost any food and any occasion.
I'm sure there are more guidelines out there. What are yours? Have you ever received a memorable wine gift? What made it memorable?
(Photo credit: theogeo)