The internet has made it easier than ever to send wine as a gift to your friends and loved ones. Nearly every wine you could possibly imagine is available at your fingertips. Looking for a rare bottle of 2007 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc? You can send this wine as a gift online without ever stepping foot outside your house. In the past, you would have had to visit or call multiple wine shops to see if they had it in stock. In fact, this bottle is so hard to find that you likely would have had to travel outside your state to get your hands on it in-person.
However, while online wine shops have made the gift-giving process convenient (especially if you’re buying rare bottles of wine), there are still a few things to keep in mind when buying wine over the internet. For instance, you need to make sure that you can legally ship the wine to your intended recipient. You also need to know which online retailers you can trust to inspect, authenticate, insure, and pack the wine for its journey. This guide will show you how to send wine as a gift online with minimum hassle.
How to Legally Send Wine as a Gift Online
If you live in the United States, you can’t shop for wine at your local wine store and mail it to your friends or loved ones yourself because it’s illegal to ship wine in the mail without a license. Instead, you’ll either need to buy your gifts from an online retailer and have them ship it for you or choose a local wine shop or winery willing to ship the wine to your chosen destination.
If your gift recipient lives in a state with strict wine shipping laws, you may consider getting them a gift certificate to a local wine shop instead.
However, before you order wine online or have it sent from a shop, you also have to consider whether your gift recipient is legally allowed to receive it. Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Delaware, and Kentucky have some of the strictest wine shipping laws in the country. For example, some states don’t allow any wine to be shipped in from out of state, even if it’s sent by a licensed wine retailer. There are also some states that don’t allow any wine to be sent through the mail under any circumstances—even from within the same state. Before you start this process, research the laws both in your state and your gift recipient’s state well in advance.
Choosing the Best Wine Gift for Your Recipient
Once you’ve sorted out the shipping details, you’ll need to decide what type of wine to send. This depends on your gift recipient’s personal taste. As a general rule, choose wines that you have seen your recipient drink before or select easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing styles that don’t require significant storage time to mature. Rare wines also make excellent gifts because these bottles aren’t usually available at local wine shops.
If you want your recipient to enjoy the wine at a specific event, then order the wine weeks in advance, if possible.
Serious wine enthusiasts can be some of the most difficult to shop for because they’re typically quite selective and already have extensive wine collections. That said, there are a number of wines that any enthusiast would be thrilled to get in the mail. When you choose a wine as a gift, consider whether you want the recipient to drink the wine soon or keep it in their collection long-term. Some wine collectors deeply appreciate being given an age-worthy wine they can lay down for years, or even decades.
Here are a few rare or top-quality wines that you should consider sending as a gift to someone special:
Aged, Ready-to-Drink Wines
- 2000 Château Haut-Bailly
- 1985 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
- 1996 Château Margaux
- 1996 Château Pichon Lalande
- 1995 Château Valandraud
- 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild
Young Vintages for Collectors to Store and Age
- 2016 Château Figeac
- 2010 Château Angélus
- 2010 Château Lafite Rothschild
- 2017 Château Lynch-Bages
- 2016 Colgin Cariad
- 2015 Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino Piero
- 2016 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2016 Domaine De La Vieille Julienne Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve
- 2018 Château L’Église-Clinet
- 2018 Château Pavie
In addition to selecting wines based on taste and preference, it’s also a good idea to choose wines that will travel well. Older bottles, for example, often suffer from bottle shock after traveling, which temporarily mutes their flavors. Wine experts still aren’t sure why exactly this happens. One theory is that the flavor compounds and the sediment in the wine muddle together during transit. We do know that this is only a temporary problem. After a few days, the flavor compounds and sediment settle and the wine tastes as complex as before the journey.
Although bottle shock is only temporary, it’s still something you’ll need to think about when you send wine as a gift online. For example, if you plan to send an exceptionally old bottle, like 1982 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, you’ll need to make sure that your gift recipient will wait a few days, or even weeks, before drinking the wine. Don’t send a wine like this if you want your recipient to enjoy it at an anniversary dinner that’s scheduled just a day or two after the wine arrives. If you want your recipient to enjoy the wine at a specific event, then order the wine weeks in advance, if possible. This gives the wine retailer plenty of time to get the wine to its destination and allows the bottle time to settle fully before it’s opened.
You should also ensure that your gift recipient has a place to store the wine for a few days or weeks until they’re ready to drink it. If your friend or loved one has professional storage or a dedicated wine fridge or cellar, then this is ideal, but your gift recipient doesn’t necessarily need one of these to store their wine safely. The wine can also be stored in a cool, dark space (like a kitchen cabinet) until it has settled.
How to Make Sure Your Wine Travels Safely
Because you have to send wine gifts online using a licensed retailer, the shipping details are usually handled for you, so there’s no need to buy special shipping cases or worry about packing your wine. However, because some shippers are more trustworthy than others, it’s important to ask them about the techniques they use for shipping wine. For example, some retailers offer two shipping options: standard and white glove.
If white glove shipping is an option, you should strongly consider using it when you send wine as a gift.
Standard shipping usually means that the retailer will package the wine in cardboard containers that are molded specifically for that bottle size. They will also include insurance up to a certain amount for each shipment and will make an effort to only ship wine when weather conditions are mild. A good retailer will use expedited, temperature-controlled shipping to ensure that your wine isn’t exposed to the elements.
If white glove shipping is an option, you should strongly consider using it when you send wine as a gift online. White glove services will transport the wine in a temperature-controlled van, ensuring that it’s treated gently and stays safe throughout the journey. You may also be able to schedule the wine to arrive the same day it’s ordered, perfect for those times when you forget to buy someone a gift in advance. The downsides of white glove shipments are that they can cost more and they’re not available for every order. Retailers generally only offer this type of shipment if the recipient is located within a few hours’ drive of the retailer’s storefront or storage facility.
How to Personalize Your Gift
Another factor to consider when you send wine as a gift online is personalization. When you offer a gift in person, you can place the wine inside a beautiful basket or wrap it in a ribbon. Buying wine online, on the other hand, means you can only personalize your gift as much as the retailer allows. Some retailers do offer extra touches, like personalized notes. You can also order entire gift baskets online, though you will have to check yourself whether the wine inside is interesting or high in quality.
A true wine enthusiast will care more about the wine than the package it comes in.
For this reason, if you’re looking for a gift for a serious wine enthusiast, you’re better off focusing on the quality or rarity of the wine itself over the personalization options the retailer provides. A true wine enthusiast will care more about the wine than the package it comes in. Still, to make the gift feel more special, you can send along a second package filled with food items that pair well with the wine you selected. The two packages won’t necessarily arrive at the same time, but your gift recipient will appreciate the extra thought.
For more information on how to personalize a gift or find the best bottles for everyone on your holiday shopping list, you can also take a look at a few of the detailed guides below.
Alternatives to Sending Wine as a Gift Online
Picking out a special bottle of wine shows your gift recipient you care about them. It also shows them you understand their preferences and the things they’re passionate about. A Bordeaux enthusiast will be thrilled to receive a gift of 2016 Château Haut-Brion or 2014 Château Lafleur in the mail.
However, in some cases, sending wine as a gift online simply isn’t an option. If your friend lives in a state that doesn’t allow wine shipments or you don’t know exactly which bottle to choose, you’ll need to find an alternative gift. Here are a few options:
- Gift certificates: Rather than guessing which wines your gift recipient will enjoy, you can let them pick out their own wine.
- Wine club memberships: If your friend or loved one lives in a state that allows wineries to ship direct to consumers, you can sign them up for a wine club membership or their favorite winery’s mailing list.
- Investment-grade wines: Giving investment-worthy wine takes away some of the pressure to get the wine to your recipient in time for the big event. Since en primeur and pre-arrival wines are gifts for the future, you don’t have to worry about making sure they arrive on a specific date.
- The gift of wine storage: For wine enthusiasts who seem to have everything already, the gift of professional full-service storage is a great option.
You can also include any of these gifts as extras when you send wine as a gift online. For example, if you buy a bottle from a retailer, ask the retailer to include a gift card in the package so that your recipient can buy more of that wine or another bottle they’ve been hoping to try. If you give a few age-worthy, quality wines, you could also offer to pay to professionally store them for a few years. With so many options available to you, you’ll find the perfect gift for every wine enthusiast in your life.
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.