The Art of Wine Gifting

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

We’re all guilty. Guilty of grabbing a “pretty good” bottle of wine in a do-able price range, chucking it into a holiday gift bag, and scratching that name off the to-do list. We presume the mantra “who doesn’t love wine” will win over the lack of any knowledge about the recipient’s taste. We often under-impress with a lame commercial wine, or over-impressive with a wine from obscure corners of the world. Wine is such a personal experience, just like a medium-rare steak and over-easy eggs.

I’m doing it differently this year. I’m ditching the quirky gift bag and random bottle for a more bespoke wine gift for these family members.
For my brother-In-law: Chris is known for his hefty wine pours and open wine-door policy. It’s fun to see what wines he’s buying and pick a bottle to share together. However, for years I have been forbidden to touch the wines on his top shelf, the ones I most want to open. Gift solution: the Coravin. The Coravin system allows wine drinkers to access the wine inside without opening the bottle. Via a needle through the cork and pressurized system, you can pour a glass of wine to enjoy and the cork will reseal itself.   Prices on these systems range from $200 to $500 and can be purchased at area wine shops, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and at, and

For my nephew: Zach lives in Santa Barbara and just watched the films “Somm,” and “Somm: Into the Bottle.” He’s a foodie, too, and loves to talk about the nose of wine. He would find it geeky fun to decant a bottle while he’s putting his finishing chef touches on a meal.   Decanters can be widely found from specialists such as Reidel, for north of $200, or more approachable from Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table for $20 to $60.

For my mom: Hooray for my Mom, who faithfully reads these wine posts each week. My Mom is a frequent hostess for evening cocktails and wine, her bridge club, and dinner events. She wows her friends with beautiful wine glass/stemware from Zalto. Zalto glasses are made in a tiny village in Austria, giving them a charming story to match their cool design.   They are remarkably light and dishwasher safe. Michelin-rated restaurants and top sommeliers live by Zalto—and now so does my mom in Twin Falls, Idaho.   Single stems start at about $55 and can be found at Orange County wine shops or online at

For my best friend:   To avoid the blank stare at the wine label from those you’ve gifted a bottle of wine, ensure there is a story and reason you’ve chosen that wine for them. Meghan and I had a fun, frenzied, delicious, and memorable tasting day in Los Olivos (think the movie “Sideways”) many years ago. We started the day tasting at Coquelicot and made our way through the tasting rooms of Longoria, Scott Cellars, Andrew Murray, and many more.   I know I’ll bring a wide smile to her face when she receives a bottle of 2015 Coquelicot Sauvignon Blanc, which I’ll ship straight from their website for $26 (plus shipping).

If these few gift options still don’t fit your wine-lovers, I always recommend a wine gift card. This allows them to pursue wine along their taste lines or experience a bottle out of their normal realm. As well, wine-lovers enjoy reading about wine so subscriptions to publications like Decanter magazine, Wine Spectator, and to sites such as “Wine Advocate” or “James Suckling” are always welcome.







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