Looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Here how to properly gift wine – in 5 easy steps!
Luckily, a bottle of vino makes a great gift for just about anyone – whether they famously enjoy a glass of Pinot at cocktail hour or they’re just getting into wine.
Even though you know that wine pairs well with everything from potato chips to weeknight Zoom hang outs, wine feels a little fancy. So, no matter who you’re shopping for – your best friend, a coworker, or your notoriously hard-to-buy-for aunt – a bottle of wine is a special treat.
When gifting wine, the key is to pick a bottle that the person in your life will actually enjoy drinking. Plus, you want them to know that you picked it out just for them.
So, how do you pick the right bottle? And how do you make it personal? How much should you spend? And how do you physically wrap a wine bottle?!
Not to worry. Here’s everything you need to know about giving the gift of wine, just in time for the holidays.
Step 1: Pick a Winner
When you’re staring at rows and rows of wine at the store, you can start to feel a little lost. How do you know which bottle is the right bottle?
Naturally, the “right” bottle depends on the person, but even if you’re totally unsure about their tastes – or you’re picking wine for a gift exchange – there are some varietals that will always be a solid choice.
Where to Start
When in doubt, go with a crowd pleaser. We’re talking about the kind of popular varietals you might keep stocked on your wine rack for dinner parties.
When it comes to red wine – and most people prefer red this time of year – go with a Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. For white wine lovers, go with a Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, or Pinot Grigio. Of course, it’s also totally fine to choose a rosé or a sparkling wine, too.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re buying wine for the lovable hipster in your life – the kind of person who listened to a particular band before they “went mainstream.” In this case, go with a lesser-known varietal – such as Zweigelt, a light-bodied red wine from Austria, or Gewürztraminer, an aromatic white wine with notes of lychee, grapefruit, and ginger. They may not have heard of these varietals before and that’s a good thing.
Using What You Know
If you don’t know what kind of wine the person likes to drink, you can use their other tastes as a barometer.
How does that work?
On the other hand, if you know exactly what kind of wine they always drink, you might want to mix things up. Choose something in a similar vein that will help them expand their palate.
For instance, if they only drink Apothic Red, you could get them a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. Or, if they usually drink wine from California, you could pick out their go-to varietal from another New World region, like Australia or South America. They might discover a new favorite.
Picking a Bottle for Wine Newbies
If someone is just starting out on their wine journey, your best bet is to start them off with a wine varietal that is good for beginners. These wines are generally well liked and can help teach them about their palate – i.e., whether they prefer fruity wines to earthy wines and whether they love strong tannins or no tannins at all.
Since trying a bunch of different kinds of wines is the best way to figure out what your preferences are, you might also consider getting the wine novice in your life a wine journal where they can take notes on what they notice as they sip.
Step 2: Set Your Budget
How much should you spend on a bottle of wine?
First thing’s first: Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better bottle of wine. That’s a relief, huh?
You’ll see a difference in quality between a $10 bottle and a $20 bottle – because of things like oak aging, which gives wine a more complex taste. However, you may not notice a big difference between, say, a $20 and a $50 bottle – particularly if you’re new to wine. Novice wine drinkers are more likely to enjoy fresher wine, which, incidentally, is usually cheaper.
According to our recent survey, most people spend $10-$20 on wine. Some spend a little more when they’re buying for someone else, but the truth is, you can find a good bottle of wine no matter your price point.
If you have more flexibility, spending $20-30 will usually get you a good-quality bottle from a well regarded winemaking region – like Burgundy or Napa Valley.
If you’re on a budget, here are some tips for getting the best bang for your buck:
- Choose a varietal that doesn’t require aging to taste great, like Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine is traditionally sipped right after the harvest, and it’s perfect for fans of light-bodied red wines.
- Choose a lower-priced varietal. That’s right. Some varietals just cost more than others. For instance, Merlot is generally less expensive than Cabernet. Why? Why knows!
- Choose a wine from an up-and-coming New World region, like Chile, South Africa, or Portland, Oregon.
- Don’t turn up your nose at a screw top bottle. A lack of cork doesn’t necessarily mean you’re looking at a lower-quality bottle. In fact, in Australia, screw top bottles are very common.
No matter your budget, just remember to remove the price tag before you wrap it.
Step 3: Personalize It
How do you let the recipient know that you actually put some thought into their gift and didn’t just go with a bottle of wine because you ran out of ideas or – worse yet – regifted a bottle of wine you’ll never drink?
The key is to personalize your gift.
One way to do that is to write a personalized note. Let the recipient know why you chose this bottle in particular. Did you go with a Shiraz, a red wine with notes of vanilla, because you know they always enjoy a mid-afternoon vanilla latte? Did you pick a wine that was made in the year that you met?
Whether it’s as simple as “I thought you’d dig this new varietal” or as in depth as “I hope this bottle of Sauvignon blanc reminds you of the fun times we had on our trip to New Zealand,” let them know what to look out for.
Next, a bottle of wine is a lovely gift on its own, but you might choose to give an accessory along with it. Whether it’s a corkscrew, a bottle stopper, or another essential wine tool, an accessory that shows you thought about their wine drinking experience will surely be appreciated.
Step 4: Wrap It Beautifully
When it comes to wrapping your bottle, you can keep it simple or go all out.
If you’ve chosen a particularly pretty looking bottle, you can simply tie a piece of ribbon or twine around the neck of the bottle and attach a note card.
If you’re including an accessory, you might want to place the bottle and the accessory into a gift box and wrap it with wrapping paper and a bow.
You might also consider making a gift basket with the bottle of wine, a couple of glasses, and some snacks.
Step 5: The Hand Off
Now that you’ve picked out the perfect bottle and made it look beautiful, the last step is to deliver it without compromising the taste of the wine.
If you’re bringing your wine in the car, here are a few thing to think about:
- Before you open a bottle, it’s best to store it horizontally so the cork doesn’t dry out. Lay the bottle down in a snug box to prevent it from moving around too much while you drive.
- If you are traveling with upright bottles, consider putting tube socks over the bottles to protect them from unexpected dips and turns.
- If it’s a particularly warm day, don’t put the wine in the trunk. Place the bottles in a box on the floor of the backseat.
And remember, stick with “contactless delivery” this year to keep you and your loved ones safe.
In Vino Finito
If you’re totally unsure of how to pick a wine that your friend or loved one will enjoy, consider gifting them a personalized wine experience from Bright Cellars that will match them to wines based on their unique tastes AND save them money.