The Manual For Giving Wine As a Gift
It is the holidays and gift giving is in the air. One question for those living a wine-minded life is how best to give wine as a gift? After all, we wine lovers to like to pass on our obsession, either in writing, in talk or in gift.
Off the bat, let’s agree that a good and proper gift is one that at least demonstrates the giver has thought about the recipient and their nature. This is a low bar to overcome as a gift giver, but it is a bar nonetheless. This means that gift cards from Amazon or Macy’s probably stink as gifts. In fact they stink more than simple cash. But back to wine.
If we are predisposed to giving wine as a gift during this holiday time, then I offer the following plan for doing so by taking account the kind relationship the recipient has with wine.
1. For the Very Occasional Wine Drinker Who Cares Very Little About Wine Other Than it is Wet and Tasty
It’s unlikely this casual wine drinking friend or acquaintance will care much about or even understand a 2000 Ridge Monte Bello or a 2006 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Rather, this person should be given the gift of DAZZLE. Give them something that acknowledges their wine drinking, your interest in wine and the fact that they don’t care about the really good stuff. Give them something cool. MY RECOMMENDATION: A BIG BOTTLE. A MAGNUM OR A DOUBLE MAGNUM WITH A GREAT ETCHED LABEL. They can display this. They can have fun opening it for friends. They can make it the centerpiece of some sort of newly begun wine collection. They can laugh and tell jokes about it. Dazzle Them!
2.For the Wine Novice Who Shows a Heightened Interest in Wine but Isn’t Schooled or Experienced
Dazzle isn’t the right path here. The right gift is one that acknowledges their justified curiosity with wine. MY RECOMMENDATION: GIVE THEM BOTH THEORY AND PRACTICE IN THE FORM OF A BOTTLE OF VINTAGE DATED CHAMPAGNE AND A BOOK ALONG THE LINES OF TOM STEVENSON’S “WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING WINE”. Of course, it might be a bottle of Napa Cab and a book on Napa or a bottle of Pinot and a book about Pinot. The point is to slake their obvious interests and give them reason to focus.
3. For the Wine Lover That’s Isn’t a Hoarder of Wine
This category of recipient is actually the tougher type for whom to give a wine gift. Nearly anything will work and indicating that you’ve given thought to the person and their circumstances demands you really do. The key however is that they love wine. What you need to know is what kind of wine do they love most. This type of wine lover will almost always have a favorite. MY RECOMMENDATION: ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF WINE THEY LIKE MOST, FIND A GOOD WINERY THAT MAKES THAT WINE AND SIGN THEM UP FOR 3 OR 4 WINE CLUB SHIPMENTS; BUT INCLUDE A WINEMAKER-SIGNED SINGLE BOTTLE OF THAT WINE AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE GIFT. I guarantee they will love this because it will be absolutely evident to them that you have given thought to them and their situation and that’s the real gift behind a gift.
4. For the Wine Collector Who Can Afford to and Does Collect the Good Stuff
You can satisfy this person by getting them a really good, really coveted, really hard to find, really low production bottle of wine. But this merely acknowledges that they like good wine and like it a lot. You can do better for this person by giving something a little extra special and by acknowledging that they admire their own palate. MY RECOMMENDATION: GIVE THEM A THREE VINTAGE VERTICAL OF A SINGLE WINE THAT LET’S THEM PLAY WITH AND EXAMINE THEIR OWN PALATE AS WELL AS THE SUBTLE DIFFERENCES IN DIFFERENT VINTAGES THAT EXIST. This gives the collector something that lets them do what they love to do–taste and talk about what they tasted; plus it acknowledges their commitment to wine collecting as well as their tasting abilities.
5. For the Person Who Works in the Wine Business
At the risk of sounding the cynical call of someone debased by the business, let me suggest that this kind of friend requires a gift that acknowledges their intimacy with wine by giving them something that is not wine related, but perhaps has a tangential relationship to their industry. MY RECOMMENDATION: AN INTERESTING AND DELICIOUS AND RARER BOTTLE OF SPIRITS. It might be a cordial you found on vacation in France that is only produced in a small village. It might be an old Scotch. It might be a small batch bourbon. Just get them outside of wine but also acknowledge their place in the world.
Gift giving is an acknowledgement that you think highly of someone for one reason or another and as a result, you think of them. Let them know you are thinking, not just giving.