The holidays aren’t here quite yet, although Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But there are many other occasions where some suggestions for giving wine as a gift could be useful.
So, in that light, here are some specific ideas for a few occasions or situations you might be facing. Of course, a handy alternative to a bottle or two can be giving a subscription to a “wine of the month club.” There are several such clubs out there, and while I’ve not personally belonged to one, several wine writers have recommended the following: the Zagat Wine Club, The Wall Street Journal Wine Club, California Wine Club, and one that’s actually named Wine of The Month Club, and purports to be the originator of the genre.
Birthday or Holiday Gift
Of all the occasions for gifting wine, this one is special—a time when just any bottle won’t do. So, if you don’t already know what wine to buy, ask the spouse or significant other for suggestions on favorites: what grapes or style of wine they like, and what foods are their favorites. I’d suggest just one very nice bottle of something you know he or she will really enjoy. You might even check local wine stores for special bottlings, or older vintages—something “special.” But remember, this is their gift. So, don’t expect they’ll open the bottle then and there. On the other hand, if they do, you’ve done well!
Housewarming or Thank-You Gift
Rather than bring a house plant or something utilitarian, why not bring a bottle of wine—in fact, make that a pair of bottles—a true his and hers gift! If they like both red and white wines, bring, say, a cab and a chard. Or try something with a theme, like wines from Oregon or Washington. Or, if you really want to surprise them, how about bottles of viognier and grüner vetliner. Now those will start a conversation. If they both prefer reds, how about a pinot and a syrah, or even a pair of Port wines, say a ruby port and a tawny port. Again, don’t expect these to be opened in your presence.
Dinner Guest Gift
This can be more complicated. Are you bringing a wine for your dinner host(s), or something to be enjoyed with the meal? Ask for their preference and act accordingly, discussing, if need be, the meal and the best pairings. Otherwise, bring something you know they’ll appreciate.
This can be a hybrid situation, such as a holiday cocktail party. It might be the perfect opportunity to consider an aperitif or dessert wine if you know your host will appreciate one of these. Or, how about a bottle of Cognac or brandy? You knew these were made from grapes, didn’t you? Another option is Champagne—and don’t forget to add a couple of glasses (flutes).