About ten years ago, one of my colleagues was looking for the perfect Champagne gift basket to give to his brother for Christmas. His brother is a huge fan of Dom Pérignon and was particularly fond of the 1998 vintage. After shopping around, my colleague heard about a gift basket at Costco that included a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon. By the time he got to the store, though, the baskets were sold out. Rather than buying a different pre-made basket, my colleague decided to make his own version instead. He bought a beautiful Longaberger basket and two bottles of 1998 Dom Pérignon online, then filled the basket with his brother’s favorite snacks. In the end, his brother appreciated the gift that much more, knowing that it had been made with him in mind.
Creating your own Champagne gift baskets is easy when you know which wines to include and which accessories will make the basket feel luxurious and thoughtful. In this guide, we’ll offer you recommendations on the best wines to buy for everyone on your list, allowing you to craft a one-of-a-kind basket from scratch.
Why You Should Make Your Own Champagne Gift Baskets
Last year, one of my friends hosted a holiday party and raffled off a few mystery gifts at the end of the night. When my raffle ticket was called, I picked out one of the gifts at random, hoping for something great. Inside, I found a small, pre-made Champagne gift basket filled with a split of wine and a few chocolate bars. While it was a cute gift that looked festive, I was disappointed to find that the wine itself wasn’t that impressive–it was too sweet and lacked character. This is a common problem with pre-made Champagne gift baskets. Most of them contain just one bottle of a Champagne that you could easily find in any grocery store around the country, and they skimp on the other components of the basket, like food and accessories. Not only that, but store-bought Champagne gift baskets aren’t tailored to your particular gift recipient’s preferences.
The gift will mean more when your recipient knows that they can’t find anything like it anywhere else.
This is why you should make your own gift baskets from scratch. The gesture shows your gift recipient that you put thought into their present and gives you the freedom to pick out wines that you know your friend, loved one, or coworker will adore. The gift will mean more when your recipient knows that they can’t find anything like it anywhere else.
The Anatomy of a Perfect Champagne Gift Basket
To create the best DIY Champagne gift baskets from scratch this holiday season, it helps to stick to a theme or category for your basket. A few options include: wine-centered, food-centered, or a sample basket featuring a wide range of wine styles. The basket you create ultimately depends on the gift recipient’s preferences. For example, one of my friends is trying to get into fine Champagne, so this holiday season, I plan on giving her a curated gift basket filled with six splits from some of the best Champagne producers. However, I wouldn’t give this same type of basket to my father-in-law because he’s already an experienced Champagne connoisseur. Instead, I would give him a basket with just two or three standard-size bottles or magnums of fine, age-worthy wine from producers I know he likes.
The wine itself should take up most of the space in the basket, as it’s the most important component.
To make your own custom basket, take a look at our three main categories in greater detail below:
This type of basket is ideal for someone who is already familiar with Champagne or for whom wine is always the star of the show. This no-frills basket is more practical than festive. It contains all of the gifts you need to enjoy fine Champagne from the comfort of your home.
To make this basket, first select at least two standard-size or magnum-size bottles of Champagne. If you can fit a third bottle in the basket, even better. The wine itself should take up most of the space in the basket, as it’s the most important component. The bottles you choose should also match your gift recipient’s preferences and be high in quality (this is the time to splurge on an older bottle of vintage Champagne). To fill in the rest of the basket, include practical items like a cork stopper designed specifically for Champagne, a Champagne saber, invitations to exclusive winery tasting events, or a full year of professional wine storage services.
Another option is to create a gift basket centered around perfect food pairings. This is a great gift for people who think of themselves as foodies or for anyone on your gift list who wants to learn more about pairing wine with food. Your goal is to create a complete, restaurant-quality tasting experience in a single basket.
To make this gift, start with just one or two quality bottles of Champagne that you want to showcase and work backward from there. If you pick two bottles of Champagne, make sure they are similar in flavor profile and style, as the food should complement both. For example, brut or extra brut Champagne often pairs best with citrus fruits, rich, creamy cheese, or buttery shortbread cookies (the acidity cuts through the richness of the dessert). Meanwhile, demi or doux Champagne pairs well with tarts, chocolates, and other sweet snacks. It’s a good idea to follow the same structure as a charcuterie board: include a mix of different textures, like cheese spreads and crunchy crackers, as well as different flavors, like sweet jam and savory foie gras.
If your gift recipient isn’t very familiar with fine Champagne, deciding which bottles to include in the gift basket can be difficult. Should you go with yeasty Bollinger or floral Deutz? Since your gift recipient doesn’t have a lot of experience with Champagne, they might not know themselves which style they prefer.
In this case, your Champagne gift basket could contain a sampling of as many different types of Champagne as you can find in small format bottles. Many prestige Champagne labels, like Bollinger La Grande Année, are only available in standard sizes or larger, but you can still find a number of excellent wines in the 187.5 ml to 375 ml range. Using smaller bottles lets you fit more of them in the basket, allowing your gift recipient to try each of the wines without committing to drinking an entire standard-size bottle of each. This will also give them a sense of each Champagne producer’s house style, which may inspire them to seek out other labels from those producers.
Choose at least one wine with a floral, delicate style and at least one that is rich and yeasty.
To make this basket, select anywhere from four to six small bottles from a wide range of producers and styles. Choose at least one wine with a floral, delicate style and at least one that is rich and yeasty. The rest should fall in between these two. You can also attach cards to each bottle with tasting notes to help guide your gift recipient and encourage them to identify the dominant flavors in each wine. Along with the small bottles, include a few snacks that pair well with all Champagne (such as shortbread cookies and rich soft and semi-soft cheeses). As a thoughtful touch, place a gift card to an online wine retailer in the basket so that they can buy larger versions of whichever wines they enjoyed most.
One of the best things about a Champagne gift basket is its flexibility. For close friends and family you can go all out, adding lots of extras that you know they’ll enjoy. For a coworker or new friend you might make the basket simpler and smaller, with just one bottle of wine and a few other components. If you’re not sure which specific wines to include in your basket, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations below to help you get started.
The Best Non-Vintage Bottles for Champagne Gift Baskets
Non-vintage Champagne is a great choice for food-centered wine baskets because the right foods can significantly enhance the flavor of these wines. For example, non-vintage Moët & Chandon is delicious on its own, but when paired with a cheese platter, the nuttiness of the wine comes through more strongly. Non-vintage wine is also the ideal choice if you want to build a basket of small format bottles in a wide range of flavors and styles since most fine Champagne producers only offer split or half-bottle sizes of their non-vintage wine.
Even if you don’t know which types of Champagne your gift recipient likes, you might be able to guess based on other wines they drink.
If you’re looking for excellent non-vintage bottles for a Champagne gift basket, consider the following:
Aromatic, Floral Champagne
Creamy, Nutty Champagne
The non-vintage bottles you choose will depend on your intended recipient’s preferences. Even if you don’t know which types of Champagne they like, you might be able to guess based on other wines they drink. For example, if they love Oregon Pinot Noir, then they might enjoy some of the wines under the aromatic, floral category. If they prefer rich, full-bodied California Chardonnay, then wines in the creamy, nutty category will likely appeal more to them.
The Best Vintage Bottles for Champagne Gift Baskets
One of the best Champagne gift baskets I’ve ever received was simple, but it made a big impression on me. For Christmas one year, my grandmother gave me a bottle of 1996 Salon Le Mesnil. She put the bottle in a cover that she had knitted herself and placed it in a basket along with a few other personal gifts, like my favorite cookies. Not only was the bottle of wine spectacular, but the gift was even more special because of the thought and effort that she put into it. Moreover, because the bottle was still fairly young, I was able to store it until it had developed some maturity. Years later, whenever I came across that bottle of Salon in my collection, I was reminded of my grandmother and her wonderful gift.
If your gift recipient doesn’t yet have a place to keep their bottles, then you can also include a gift certificate for professional storage in the basket.
Offering your friends, colleagues, and loved ones an age-worthy vintage Champagne allows them to experience this feeling for themselves. If you give more than one bottle of the same vintage, your recipient will also be able to taste the wine more than once during its lifespan. While this type of wine gift isn’t for everyone, it’s an excellent option for people who already have a number of bottles in storage or who want to try cellaring wine for the first time. If your gift recipient doesn’t yet have a place to keep their bottles, then you can also include a gift certificate for professional storage in the basket. Paying for a few years of professional storage encourages them to wait until the wine has reached its ideal drinking window before opening it.
To create a Champagne gift basket from age-worthy vintage wine, consider vintages that are relatively young, but that have aged for at least ten years already. This gives your gift recipient the chance to store the bottles for a few years without burdening them with a wine that will take decades to reach its peak. Here are a few options:
- 2009 Louis Roederer Cristal
- 2008 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill
- 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal
- 2008 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs
- 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
- 2007 Salon Le Mesnil
- 2006 Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon
Or, if you would rather give your gift recipient a wine that has already reached maturity and requires no additional storage time, consider one or two of these older, more mature wines:
- 1988 Le Brun Servenay Blanc de Blancs
- 1988 Lanson Brut Vintage Collection
- 1985 Salon Le Mesnil
- 1983 Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon
- 1982 Salon Le Mesnil
- 1971 Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon P3
Vintage Champagne is a great option for any gift basket because it’s more difficult to find than non-vintage Champagne. As a general rule, when you shop for wine as a gift, it should be a bottle that your gift recipient wouldn’t find in a grocery store or just any local wine shop. Moreover, many producers only offer vintage Champagne when the weather was especially favorable, so these wines are generally very high in quality. As long as you buy wine from a top producer, you won’t have to worry about researching every vintage in-depth before you buy–most of these wines make perfect gifts for even the most selective of palates.
Putting Together Your Champagne Gift Basket
As long as you choose Champagne from a high-quality producer for your basket, then the wine should speak for itself. However, to make sure that your gift looks as polished as possible, follow these additional tips:
- Pick a color scheme that complements the wine’s label. For example, Veuve Clicquot’s iconic orange label goes well with rich, dark browns, shimmery golds, and deep greens. If you have many different wines in the basket, you can also use a single color for the ribbon, filler material, and any wrapping paper you use to make the basket look more cohesive and sophisticated. Neutral shades like black, white, grey, and navy unify a colorful Champagne gift basket.
- Place durable, quality bar towels at the bottom of the basket as filler. Towels protect the bottles, stemware, and other fragile accessories from getting damaged when you transport the basket. They’re also practical–I don’t know anyone with too many kitchen or bar towels.
- Put the non-wine items (like snacks and accessories) in first and the Champagne in last. You should keep the wine on its side under cool, dark storage conditions–such as in a cellar or in professional storage–for as long as possible. I usually put the bottles in the basket no more than a couple hours before the gift exchange. As an added benefit, this also means that your gift recipient can drink the wine right away if they choose; the Champagne should still be at or near serving temperature.
- Seal the basket with clear cellophane so your gift recipient can see what’s inside.
With so many incredible wines available online, there’s no reason to buy a pre-made gift basket. You can make your own gift that is much higher in quality–and is a better value–than anything you can find in the store. Moreover, a personally curated gift will make your recipient feel truly special. By following our tips, you’ll create memorable, beautiful Champagne gift baskets that everyone on your list will adore.
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 finest wine.