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5 things you need to know about giving wine

November 15, 2019

A wooden box makes any wine extra special. And you can burn it when you're done.

By Erin Henderson

If I had to rank the questions I am most-often asked at Wine School, I’d have to say “what wine should I give as a gift?” is definitely in the top five. It can be an intimidating exercise trying to pick the perfect bottle for the wine lover on your list. But if you find yourself sweating it out at the wine store, don’t panic. Just follow these guidelines and you should be golden.

Keep the price between $25 and $50

This is a gift, after all. Spend too little and you look cheap. Spend too much and you’re a suck up. I’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself on which end of the spectrum you will fall, but be assured you can get some very good bottles in this price range that are impressive and appropriate.

Aim for a fave

If your giftee is a major fan of big, powerful reds, then giving a bottle of fruity rosé could fall flat fast. Now this doesn’t mean you have to give the identical bottle your gift-target loves, but put a little thought into it (it’s the thought that counts, right?). If they normally reach for a big Napa Cab, maybe opt for an interesting Santa Barbara Syrah (they’re delish, BTW), or go a bit rogue and ante up a red Bordeaux.

Or, give the unexpected….

Here's a tip for when you're heading to a party and you don’t know anything about the host. Simply give a bottle or style you really love. Add a hand-written note explaining a bit about it (“I discovered this Sauvignon Blanc on my holiday in New Zealand and have been drinking it ever since. It’s particularly delicious with raw oysters.”) It’s a nice touch that shares a bit more about you and can spark a fun conversation about wine, travel, food… all the important things in life.

Champagne for the win

Let’s assume you are really at a loss and, this being a busy time of year, you don’t have time to do research on your giftee. Champagne is always appropriate. If you’d rather not drop the mega-bucks on true-blue Champers, go for a quality traditional method sparkling. (See our last post here on that topic). Festive, elegant, and seasonally appropriate, bubbles will always be welcome.

Size matters…

Let’s face it, we all want our giftees to love — maybe even freak out — over an awesomely chosen bottle. If you want to be that guy (and as I just said, we all want to be that guy), go for a magnum. A 1,500 mL wine bottle that’s double the size of your standard bottle shouts loud and clear: “let’s party.” The big bottle looks impressive in a cellar or on a bar cart (but not for long: more on storage in an upcoming post), and inspires happiness just for the sheer grandness of it.

Here's some more advice

Still searching for that perfect gift for the wine lover on your list? Give the gift of Wine School! Our 5-part foundation series starts again in January 2020. Don’t know if the dates will work? We’ve also got gift certificates available in any denomination.