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Think About Your Giftee’s Tastes
The biggest mistake that collectors make when gifting wine is that they choose bottles that they love without considering the tastes and desires of their giftees. When you collect wine, you’re constantly exposed to the latest trendy and rare vintages, however, these wines don’t always make the best gifts. A bottle of 2004 DRC St. Vivant would be a score for your cellar, but a casual drinker likely won’t appreciate it as much as you would. Rather than picking your favorite wines, consider your giftee’s personality using the guide below.
TYPES OF WINE DRINKERS:
- Adventurers: For these recipients, try experimental, obscure wines from lesser-known regions
- Picky drinkers: For those who are cautious wine drinkers, stick with bottles they already like
- Collectors: For these giftees, splurge on older vintages from classic regions
- Casual drinkers: For these, take the flavors they love and elevate them
If your giftee is the kind of person who drags you out to the latest hip restaurant, or has 100 different flavors of obscure teas in their cabinet, they’re likely an adventurer. This kind of giftee would love an obscure wine like Rotgipfler, a white, acidic varietal from Austria.
The type of person who orders a hamburger at a Thai food restaurant, or who has a long list of foods they hate, will likely most appreciate getting a wine they’ve already tried at least once. A picky giftee is the hardest to shop for, so ideally you’ll want to host or attend a tasting party with them beforehand to find out which types of wine and producers they enjoy.
Your fellow collectors will be the easiest to shop for because they already know exactly what they want, and often aren’t afraid to tell you at every opportunity. Find out what bottles are on their must-have list, and stick with the best vintages available. The best gifts will be bottles that they can store for at least five years, or an exceptional older vintage that’s rare on the market.
The most common giftee is a casual drinker. These are the people who enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, but who don’t have an established palate yet. Observe the kind of wines that they order at restaurants or buy in the grocery store, and buy bottles that are slightly better in quality, but that share those same characteristics. If your giftee loves Barefoot Malbec, give them a bottle of good Argentinian Malbec instead.
In addition to considering your giftee’s palate, you’ll also want to think about storage availability. Your recipient might love aged Bordeaux, but you shouldn’t give them a bottle of 2010 Angelus unless they already have a cellar or are interested in using professional storage warehouse to keep that bottle safe. If you’re going to give an age-worthy bottle and know that the recipient doesn’t have a go-to storage option, it’s a good idea to include a year-long subscription to a professional storage warehouse as well. Just make sure the wine you’re giving can be drunk at the end of that year in case they’d rather not continue with the subscription.
The Best Wine Gifts for Each Person in Your Life
Let’s say you’ve discovered that your boss is a wine collector who loves Tuscan wine. Should you give her a vintage bottle of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, or is a bottle of Argiano more appropriate? The decision will usually depend on how close you are with your boss. The closer you are to your giftee, the more appropriate it is to splurge on high-end vintages. Here are a few gifting wine tips for the different relationships in your life.
Young, popular wines that are ready to drink (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot)
Work Colleagues or Bosses:
High-quality vintages from established regions in classic varietals (Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, red Bordeaux, white Burgundy)
Lesser-known wines that fit your friend’s taste (Argentinian Malbec, Barbaresco, white Jura)
The best vintage from your relative’s favorite producer (2007 Opus One, 2004 Cristal Rose, 2012 Ausone)
High quality vintages, preferably with special significance (the first bottle you drank together, the bottle from your first anniversary)
Acquaintances: You’ll want to stick with young, drinkable wines so your giftee will be able to open them shortly after they receive the gift. You’re not close enough to them to give them a wine that’s worth storing long-term.
Colleagues or Bosses: Classic wines from tried-and-true regions like Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Burgundy will be your safest bet. You often don’t know your work colleagues well enough to experiment with obscure wine gifts.
Friends: You can get a little more experimental with your friends because you know their personalities and tastes.
Significant Other: In this case, the historical significance of the bottle is more important than how collectable that bottle is. Whatever wine you choose should have a strong emotional connection to your significant other.
Gifting Wine by Occasion
After you’ve considered your giftee’s personality and relationship to you, think about the atmosphere of the gifting event. You wouldn’t want to give a 2011 Yquem as a gift at a chaotic house party because the recipient won’t have time to take a close look at the bottle.
Here are a few wine gifting ideas for every type of occasion:
Choose relatively inexpensive bottles of varietals that are almost universally-loved, like Champagne, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. If your giftee is the host of the party, they’ll appreciate a wine that pairs well with the food being served. However, don’t expect your host to open the bottle right away; they might already have a particular wine or wines picked out for the party. It’s also a good idea to buy magnums of wine whenever you can. These look more festive and impressive than a standard 750ml bottle, and ensure there’s enough for several guests to get a taste.
Simple list of example wines for each occasion, with links to Vinfolio’s sale pages embedded inside — each section will have a simple illustration:
For birthdays, your giftee’s taste in wine matters more than any other factor, such as whether the wine pairs well with food. The perfect birthday wine will be age-worthy if your giftee already has a place to store the bottle. If they don’t, the wine should be drinkable now, preferably an older vintage that’s reached its peak. The main tip to remember is that great birthday wines won’t be available at a grocery store. You’ll have to shop online or visit niche wine shops. This makes the gift more special.
For a holiday, get your giftee something personal and enjoyable that you know they already love, and that will make them feel special. You can splurge more on these bottles than you would for a casual party, but don’t feel compelled to spend as much as you might on a birthday gift.
Most college graduates celebrate graduation shortly after they’re old enough to drink in the United States. This makes graduation a great time to give them a bottle that will spark their interest in wine. Graduates often don’t know what types of wines they enjoy, so think about which wines got you interested in collecting when you were new to wine. Giving the graduate a wine from their birth year is also an excellent idea for two reasons: it makes the gift personalized, and it means giving them a mature, delicious wine that’s already 22-24 years old. You can also give them their first set of wine tools, like bottle openers or decanters. Your goal is to start them on their journey with fine wine.
Save the world’s best wines for wedding gifts. These vintages should be of the highest quality (at least a score of 96 among most critics is a good place to start), and from producers that are difficult to find. Champagne is a great wedding gift because it’s celebratory and pairs well with a variety of foods. You should also consider getting the newlyweds a wine to commemorate their first year of dating. These vintages will become priceless and very personal for the couple as the years go by.
Like a wedding wine gift, the ideal anniversary vintage is one that will be significant to the couple’s shared history. This can either be the year they started dating, the year they got married, or a wine from a region that’s special to the couple, such as the area where they had their honeymoon. Plan on spending more on bottles for milestone anniversaries, such as the couple’s 10th, 25th, or 50th celebrations.
Have a Budget in Mind
If a wine fits your giftee’s personality to a tee, then it’s worth splurging on, however, it’s still best to have a maximum budget in mind before you shop for the perfect gift. You wouldn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a bottle that your giftee won’t appreciate, or would feel guilty about drinking.
First, think about future value compared to immediate satisfaction–which will be most important to your giftee? Collectors will appreciate a wine that they can keep for a few years, whereas casual drinkers will prefer wines that are ready to drink now. Generally, your budget for age-worthy bottles should be higher than your budget for drinkable wines.
The closer you are to your giftee, the more you should spend on your gift bottles. This is especially true for special occasions like weddings and anniversaries. If you’re invited to a wedding, spend at least as much as it costs your hosts to have you attend. For instance, if the couple has an open bar, and dinner costs them about $50 per plate, then you should plan on spending at least $100 on your gift bottle. Major celebrations and life milestones call for bottles that are more expensive as well.
Wine Gifting Ideas
After you find your perfect gift bottle, you’ll need to wrap and transport the wine without spoiling it or breaking the bottle. If you put a delicate wine inside too much wrapping paper and set that gift near a fireplace, the wine inside could spoil from heat damage. Similarly, if you don’t pad the bottle enough before you transport it, the bottle could crack before it reaches its destination. Here’s how to wrap and transport your wine gift safely and beautifully.
You don’t need bulky wrapping paper or boxes to make your bottle appear beautiful when you hand it to your giftee. For casual parties or iconic bottles that speak for themselves (like Domaine Leroy or Screaming Eagle), you don’t need much to make your bottle stand out. Simply tie a ribbon around the bottle’s neck. You can also wrap the bottle in cellophane to protect the label.
If you want to make your gift more elaborate or customized, place your bottle in a basket along with wine tools or gourmet snacks that pair well with the vintage you chose. You can also include a short note on a card that tells a story about the wine you chose. Talk about why you picked the bottle, or go into a brief history of the wine. This saves you from having to explain your gift in-person (important in a chaotic setting), and your giftee will appreciate the bottle more after learning about its history.
Transporting your gift in-person is far easier than shipping the wine to another state. Most wines will survive a short car ride, but age-worthy and mature wines still require more care. Keeping your wine in a travel cooler will prevent it from spoiling on the trip. In addition, housing it in styrofoam lessens the impact of vibration on the bottle. If you’re attending a lengthy celebration, consider keeping the wine in a cooler or fridge until the event is over. This prevents temperature damage.
Shipping your wine to another location is a more complicated process than transporting it in-person because you have to consider shipping laws in your state. It is illegal to ship wine directly to the recipient in some states. This is why it’s better to ship via a trustworthy company, rather than sending the wine through the mail by yourself. When you buy wine through a retailer, they can ship that bottle directly to the giftee using the safest shipping methods available.
If your giftee already has a wine cellar or fridge, there’s no need to worry about storage. However, if you’re giving a fine wine that will require further aging and the recipient doesn’t already have a collection, it’s best to include a storage option as part of the gift, like a full year or more of professional storage. If you’re feeling especially generous, you can also give them a fully-stocked mini wine fridge filled with their favorite wines.
Taking the time to mindfully shop for bottles ensures that your gift won’t go to waste. Although shopping for wine can be a lot of work, your giftee will appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into your gift. Thinking about the recipient’s palate and personality, and the gift’s wrapping and storage options will make your gift stand out in a crowd.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.
At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most
treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of
passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles–we love sharing a great
glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a
Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.