With the holiday season in full swing, it’s time to finish checking everyone off of your gift list. This guide will help you navigate through the sea of options out there, since you can never go wrong with giving a bottle of wine as a gift.
Rule of Thumb: Since people’s tastes differ, try to focus on what type of drinker they are: beginner vs. connoisseur, red vs. white wine lover, or what type of food they like to eat. Wine and food are natural partners, so it’s safe to assume that the bottle you give will likely be paired with something edible. Keeping these things in mind will help you narrow down the options out there, so you can give them a gift they’ll love.
The Safe Bet – Looking for a tried and true wine to give as a gift? How about a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine? There’s nothing like a glass of bubbly to celebrate any occasion in life!
The Red Wine Lover – For those people on your list who love red wine, try a bottle of Grenache. France’s Southern Rhône region is famous for this grape, with Châteauneuf-du-Pape serving as the template. These wines are full bodied, elegant, and ripe, with red fruit and spice flavors. Other quality examples come from Spain, South Australia, and California.
The White Wine Lover – While Pinot Gris might be more familiar to you as Pinot Grigio, it tends to produce rounder, more generous whites than the latter, especially when coming from France’s Alsace region. Aromas and flavors of melon, tropical fruits, and spice are typically found in these wines. Excellent Pinot Gris is also produced in Oregon and New Zealand.
The Vegetarian – Barbera d’Asti, from Italy’s Piedmont region, is a lively red wine to match with tomato sauces, whether on pasta or pizza, or even with more ambitious dishes like mushroom risotto.
The Spicy Food Lover – Hot spice in food sometimes presents a dilemma for the wine drinker, but have no fear! Try a late-harvest Riesling, known as “Spätlese” in Germany. These white wines have a medium sweetness balanced by a lively acidity, making them a perfect choice when you want to mellow out the heat of a dish. They also pair beautifully with fish preparations, including sushi.
The Sweet Tooth – Sweet wines can be exceptional, and those from Sauternes are among the finest whites in the world. Richly textured and luscious, the best examples can age for decades. They are also a wonderful companion to salty foods like foie gras and blue cheese.
The Beginner – If you know someone looking to get into wine, put something red and jammy in their hands. Easy options include inexpensive red blends from California, or even an Old Vine Zinfandel.
The Connoisseur – When the person you have in mind has a more discerning palate, don’t stress. Brunello di Montalcino is a grand expression of Tuscan Sangiovese, offering both power and finesse – two desirable qualities in red wine. If you’re seeking an excellent value, Portuguese wines are a reliable option. Douro Reservas are traditional reds from this often overlooked Old World country.
Whichever bottle you decide, don’t feel the need to go outside your comfort zone when it comes to the price of wine. There are great bottles to be had at all levels, and ultimately, it’s the thought that counts!