Whether you're heading to a dinner party and don't want to arrive empty-handed or want to find the perfect something special for your BFF, it's hard to go wrong with a wine gift. No matter the occasion, when you walk into a wine shop to choose a bottle, there are a few things to think about. So, it's helpful to understand how to gift wine before you hit the bottle shop.
How to Gift Wine 101
Giving wine as a gift is a thoughtful option. And, since it's a simple bottle of wine, how could you go wrong? Grabbing any old bottle off the shelf isn't exactly the most personal gift. To make it into a more thoughtful present, consider the recipient's taste and preferences, your budget, the season, and how to give the bottle a little extra pizazz to make it look like the gift that it is.
Start With a Budget
Just as wine can range in quality, it can vary widely in price. You'll need to come up with a budget before you start browsing the shelves. This will be different for everyone, but keep in mind that if you're shopping in the right place, you don't need to spend a fortune to get a great bottle. At the same time, you likely won't find anything worth drinking in the sale section of your average grocery store. Aim for the middle ground and plan to spend a minimum of $25 to get a quality wine.
Your budget is apt to vary depending on who the gift is for. If it's for your very best, wine-loving friend, you'll probably want to spend a little more to get something unique. If you're in search of a wine to bring to the host of a rowdy party on the other hand, you likely don't want to spend a bundle on a bottle that will get opened nonchalantly and splashed into glasses along with the rest of the alcohol that's floating around the room. So, keep in mind who it's for and what the occasion is when planning your budget.
Choose a Wine
Getting personal by thinking about your recipient's preferences is the most important part of gifting wine. This step can take the gift from just okay to amazing. You can focus on a couple aspects here, like searching out a particular producer you know they love, a region they are fascinated by, or a style you think they would be curious to try. Whichever route you go, you'll have to know a bit about your recipient to dial in the wine. If you are unsure what they like, do your best to collect some hints from them or their other friends and go from there.
Consider the Season
Taking into account the season and weather is an additional way to make the gift extra occasional. Even if you don't anticipate that your recipient will open the bottle in the moment, it's nice if you give a wine that vibes with the season so they can enjoy it in the near future. If it's spring or summer, aim for a rosé, refreshing white, pét-nat, or a chillable red. If the weather is cooler, think about a bottle to get cozy with, like a trousseau or full-bodied orange wine. If you want something that always feels celebratory and can be had regardless of what the temps and sun are doing, go for bubbles.
Gift Wine for Special Occasions
Need a bottle for a wedding gift or a swanky New Year's Eve gathering? If the occasion is particularly celebratory, there is a clear direction to lean into, and that's bubbles. Big, fabulous occasions call for la crème de la crème, Champagne. Not only is this the toasting king, but the acid-driven bubbles are incredibly versatile when it comes to food. Sip it solo or pair a glass with everything from oysters to potato chips. Champagne is a great festive wine choice for a holiday or anniversary gift. If you're looking to dial it back one notch, go for a nice cava or prosecco. Any type of bubbles is light-hearted and will get anyone in the spirit of celebrating.
Gifting a bottle of wine is great, but just handing it over unwrapped with no note is a little underwhelming. Put some thought into the presentation to make it feel extra special. It's a gift after all! A personal note or card is a great addition that you can easily attach around the neck of the bottle. Along with your message, this is a great place to include a few notes about the bottle you've chosen. You can also use a wine bag to give it that extra gifty feel or wrap it in colorful cellophane with a bright ribbon. Whether you find something fun or jazz up a plain wine bag to make your own creation, the actual unwrapping of the wine will earn top-notch presentation points.
Build a Wine Gift Basket
Want to make a whole big thing of it? Creating a gift basket that features a special bottle along with other odds and ends is a great way to go the extra mile and really make someone's day:
- Give a wine and charcuterie gift basket. Choose your wine first and then work off of the flavor profile to build the rest of the gift basket or box. It's best to stick to non-perishable items, so nothing is at risk of spoiling if the recipient doesn't open it right away. Great side bits to include are chutney, jam, artisan crackers, herb-salted nuts, cured salami, honey, or speciality tinned fish.
- Give a wine sampler basket with sampling of wines including a red, white, and sparkling wine from a particular region.
- Make a "night in" spa gift basket with a bottle of bubbles, bath bombs, a face mask, a loofah, and other spa products.
- Build a kit to mix a wine-forward cocktail. This could include a couple of glasses, a wine opener, a bottle of prosecco, a bottle of Aperol or Campari, and some club soda.
Whatever route you go, a beautifully curated gift basket starring wine is a treat to receive.
Gift a Wine Club Subscription
If you have no clue on the red, white, or rosé part, but you just know they like wine, consider gifting a subscription to a wine club. Many people love the discovery process that comes with receiving a curated box of wine on their doorstep. It's also a gift that feels like it keeps on giving over the course of the six to 12 month subscription. Each wine club operates slightly differently, so you'll want to do some research and come up with a budget before clicking complete transaction.
When Not to Gift Wine
While many people are more than excited to receive a unique bottle of wine, it's not for everyone. Obviously, if the person doesn't drink alcohol, this gift is less than ideal. In this case, search out a speciality non-alcohol drink if you want to stay in the beverage realm. If you are looking for a gift that falls into the comfort zone category, like for someone recovering from health issues or mourning the loss of a loved one, wine doesn't exactly do the trick. In this scenario, avoid the vino and go with something more appropriate for the occasion.
Go-to Wines to Gift
These five wines are real gems that will make your best friend, boss, in-laws, and more feel like they just won the wine lottery.
For Your "I Only Drink White Wine" Acquaintance: Alpamanta Breva Sauvignon Blanc 2019
From Mendoza, Argentina, this hazy sauvignon blanc from Alpamanta is brimming with bright and zesty aromas of pomelo and white flower. The textured palate is all about stone fruit, citrus, and pear with underlying white blossom. Biodynamically farmed and fermented in concrete eggs, this white is brilliant and refreshing, with an edge that will pleasantly surprise any white wine drinker.
A Red to Impress Anyone: 2021 Beckham Estate Trousseau
A mature number from Beckham Estate in Oregon's Willamette Valley, this rare, domestic, amphora-aged trousseau boasts notes of ripe cherry, strawberry, and black pepper with hints of nutmeg. Energetic fruit and rich, layered tannins make this special bottle the perfect gift for any fine wine drinker.
Bubbles for Your Playful Friend: Donkey & Goat 2020 Lily's Pet Nat-Exp Chardonnay
A pétillant naturel of chardonnay made in the Anderson Valley, California, this wine is fun and flirty and can be popped for brunch, an al-fresco picnic, a birthday party, or just because the mood calls for bubbles. Bursting with notes of citrus, green apple, pear, fresh-baked brioche, and a hint of honey, the bubbles are playful and refreshing. It's a sure-fire gift that an equally fun friend will love.
For Your Special Someone: Stolpman Love You Bunches 2021
A cutsie bottle to gift anyone you love, Stolpman Love You Bunches is as good as it looks. Organically grown and carbonically fermented sangiovese makes this wine a fresher, juicier expression of the grape. This one is for chilling, so you get the best version of the ripe red berry and sour cherry candy notes on your tongue.
A Juicy Red for Everyone: Christina St. Laurent
Just want something delicious that is a guaranteed an emphatic YES from anyone? Look no further than the 100% St. Laurent from Austrian winemaker Christina Netzl. Organically grown and naturally fermented in the hills of the Carnuntum region in Austria, this native variety is both elegant and playful, with notes of juicy cherry and cranberry matched by an earthy characteristic and brilliant acidity.
Make Wine a Gift to Remember
Taking into account a few points of etiquette and thoughtfulness when choosing wine will take the whole gift to the next level and make the receiver feel all the love. So, come up with a budget, narrow it down to a few styles, and get creative with your presentation.