And Wine Gift Giving Faux Pas to Avoid
Giving the gift of wine is never a bad idea. But the challenge comes when trying to decide what bottle of wine to gift? I’ve had several people ask me for recommendations the last few weeks so I thought I’d share some helpful guidelines and faux pas to avoid when giving a wine gift this holiday season…and in general.
Go with what the giftee likes…
If you know what the giftee drinks, a great bottle from a specific winery they like or grape varietal that goes with their personal pallet will be a stand out gift. It’s also totally ok to outright ask people what their favorite wine regions are, favorite grape varietals and wineries. in their wines. This ensures you get a bottle they will love. You may also consider giving them a bottle you have shared together in the past or see at their house. If your friend always orders a Merlot or Chardonnay when you’re at happy hour, find a good bottle of this varietal.
Use wine travel experiences…
Have you recently visited a wine region and found a winery or wine you love? Grab a bottle of this and share with your giftee a few stories about your trip. Better yet, if they have visited a region, or have talked about wanting to visit a region – “Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit France and sip wine…” pick up a bottle of Bordeaux. Not only is it thoughtful that you remember them having talked about a wine region, but it’s a great conversation topic that will bring up memories of their experiences.
When in doubt…
When in doubt grab some bubbles. Champagne is always associated with a celebration – a holiday, birthday, dinner party or just friendly gathering. Champagne also tends to pair with just about every food your host could be serving.
If giving a bottle of wine as a gift, it’s to intimidating stick with wine accessories – Champagne glasses, a nice wine bottle opener, or if you want to go big, who doesn’t love a Coravin. (See my ultimate wine lovers gift guide for more accessories.)
Pair the wine gift…
If you’re still unsure and you are attending a dinner party but don’t want to allude to what you will be gifting, you can ask the host what food they will be be serving so that you can bring a bottle that will pair nicely with the meal. However, don’t expect the host to open the bottle that evening. They may already have their wines picked out for their pairings, and since it is a gift, it’s not expected it for that bottle to be opened with guests. This is just an easy way to pick a bottle that’s thoughtful…without the pressure of finding something for their specific palate.
Make your own wine gift basket…
I’m not going to lie, pre-made wine baskets are expensive and do not always include the best bottles. Consider making your own. Pick a theme such as wine and chocolate, add a bottle of Port, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot along with some delicious chocolates. Or, pick a region to highlight such as France and include a red from Bordeaux, a bottle of Champagne and one from Burgundy. Throw in some French cheese and your gift will be the star of the night.
Give the gift that keeps on pouring…
Wine clubs are a super fun way to gift wine especially for people who are newer to wine. This is a great gift that helps to educate the giftee about specific types of varietals or regions. You can pick wine clubs from a specific winery or ones that highlight specific regions or mix it up with wines from around the world. A few easy but good ones to consider – Vinesse, National Geographic Wines of the World and Laithwaites.
How Much to Spend?
As for how much to spend on your wine gift, it’s totally up to your budget…and depends on the people you’re giving it to. If the giftee is not necessarily a big wine person, buying an expensive bottle will be completely under appreciated. If your giftee is a big wineo who knows their wines it can be intimidating to give them a gift unless you know, for a fact that it’s something they will like. In this situation, don’t be intimidated. Ask for help at the wine store and perhaps revert to a region you know they’ve traveled to. When you give it to them, make sure to let them know you thought of them when you saw wines from Italy and this one came highly recommended. It’s thoughtful that you remembered their travels and thoughtful that you spent time looking for it…the thought it what matters, not the cost of the bottle.
Wine Gift Giving Faux Pas
As for wine gift giving faux pas to avoid, there are a few…
If there is a price tag on the bottle, remove it immediately. That goes for any gift.
When you give the giftee the bottle of wine, don’t expect them to open it that night and share it with you. You might even want to tell them that you’ve brought them this bottle to “enjoy at a later time”. However, if they choose to open it, enjoy!
We all have some of those bottles in our refrigerator that we don’t like or have had laying around for years. Don’t regift it… If you don’t know if the bottle is good, don’t give the wine as a gift.
It’s OK to share your love your favorite wines but if you know someone is super into Pinot Noirs or Sauvignon Blanc’s don’t get them a big Cab from Napa Valley just because that’s what you like. Stick with what they will appreciate.
Don’t brag about the bottle you bought. It’s one thing to talk about the fact that you’ve been to this wine region and or the winery and have a great story to share. It’s another thing to talk about how expensive the bottle is. Trust me people will look at the bottle up on Vivino or Google.
How to gift wrap a wine bottle…
Make sure to include a note with the gift. This is especially important if you have a little story to share about the wine or a reason why you picked this specific wine – “I know you love Pinot at happy hour so I wanted to bring a little more happy to you!”
As for wrapping a wine bottle, there are a variety of ways to wrap wine as a gift. I’m a sucker for simple wine bags with tissue paper. I’ve also seen people literally wrap wine bottles in wrapping paper with the bow. If you have a gift box that will fit a wine bottle – even better try to get a wooden wine box!
One of my favorite, simple wrapping tips is to just tie a bow around the neck. To jazz it up, hang a cute Christmas ornament off the bottle along with the bow. You may also find a cute wine bottle hat and sweater. They’re so adorable! If you’re sending it, however if it’s a gift that you want to be open later definitely consider gift bags which has she paper and a little card inside. or a gift box a beautiful gift box.
Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.