It’s common knowledge that wine is an excellent gift when you want to make a great first impression. Deciding which wines to gift can be a bit trickier, especially if you want your gift to be memorable. Which wine should you bring to meet your partner’s parents for the first time? How do you find the perfect bottle for your boss who seems to know everything about fine Bordeaux? Where can you find one-of-a-kind gift bottles?
If you’re looking for a memorable wine that goes above and beyond what most people bring as gifts, this guide is for you. Whether you’re trying to stand out at work or show your appreciation for a loved one, these 15 gift wines are truly something special.
What Are the Qualities of an Impressive Gift Wine?
Finding the best wine to gift is a bit like putting together the right outfit for a job interview. Although personal style and preference come into play, there are certain types of wine (just as there are certain types of clothes) that communicate sophistication and polish. Often, these qualities are subtle and may only be noticed by people with a great deal of knowledge about wine. Yet it’s precisely these styles of wine that will make a lasting impression on recipients, especially wine enthusiasts. The success of a great gift lies in the details.
With this in mind, here are a few essential qualities you should look for in wines to gift:
- Rarity: Rare wines are the best wines to gift because both enthusiasts and casual drinkers can appreciate them. A serious wine enthusiast who owns thousands of bottles would love to receive an ultrarare wine that they’ve likely never tried before — or have only sampled a few times. Meanwhile, a casual fan of wine will also love discovering an unusual style from a lesser-known region, producer, or vintage. Moreover, you can find rare wines at a number of price points to fit your gift budget. How do you know whether a wine is rare? It depends on the region, vintage, and producer. Generally speaking, if fewer than 10,000 cases of a wine are released per year, it’s usually considered rare. Older vintages also tend to be rarer than recent vintages. Some wines that are known for their rarity include cult California Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage Champagne, First-Growth Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundy, and “Super Tuscans” from Italy.
- Vintage: Some vintages are higher in quality than others. One of the easiest ways to impress a wine enthusiast on your gift list is to research the top vintages for a particular region or producer. Older vintages are especially great wines to gift because they’re rare and many of them are ready to drink right now. Some luxury gift wines, like Bordeaux, take a decade or more to reach peak maturity (when their flavors are at their most complex), so it’s wise to buy wine your gift recipient can drink that same night, if they choose. To get you started, here are a few of the top-rated vintages for some of the rare styles of wine listed above (that are drinking well right now):
|Cult California Cabernet Sauvignon||2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 1999, 1997, 1995, and 1994|
|Champagne||2008, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1989, 1988, 1985, and 1982|
|First-Growth Bordeaux||2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1986, 1985, 1983, 1982, 1961, 1959, 1955, 1953, 1949, 1948, 1945, 1934, 1929, 1928, and 1921|
|Grand Cru Burgundy||2012, 2009, 2005, 1999, 1996, 1995, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1978, 1969, 1962, 1959, 1949, 1947, 1945, 1937, and 1929|
|Italian Super Tuscans||2011, 2010, 2007, 2006, 2001, 1997, 1990, 1988, and 1985|
- Reputation: Just as fashion enthusiasts instantly recognize designer brand names, wine enthusiasts hold the top wine producers in high esteem. Bottles of Château Margaux or Louis Roederer Cristal are coveted not just for their exceptional quality, but also for their rarity and sophistication. Offering these sorts of wines as gifts is a surefire way to ensure your recipient remembers you. Here are just a few of the notable names you might consider from the top wine regions:
|Region and Style||Five Renowned Producers|
|Cult California Wines||Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Sine Qua Non, and Dominus|
|Champagne||Louis Roederer, Krug, Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger, and Bollinger|
|Bordeaux||Château Lafite Rothschild, Le Pin, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Petrus|
|Grand Cru Burgundy||Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), Domaine/Maison Leroy, Domaine Du Comte Liger-Belair, and Domaine Faiveley|
|Italian Super Tuscans||Ornellaia, Tenuta San Guido, Marchesi Antinori, and Tua Rita,|
Now that you know what to look for in wines to gift, you may be wondering which wines make the best gift for an upcoming event. Below, you’ll find some gift recommendations for the people you may want to impress the most.
The 15 Best Wines to Gift for Every Situation
While you wouldn’t necessarily want to give a rare bottle of wine to everyone on your gift list each year, there are times when it’s important to go all-out and splurge on a spectacular luxury bottle. Here are the moments when you should consider pulling out all the stops:
Wines to Gift to Your Boss
Corporate gifts can be notoriously tough to shop for because it’s difficult to know your gift recipient’s tastes. Wine is generally a good choice for a corporate gift, and it’s appropriate for any number of situations from company holiday parties to meetings with important clients. The best wines to gift in this situation are established labels with stellar reputations, particularly red Bordeaux and red or white Burgundy such as:
- 2010 Château Angélus
- 2010 Château La Mondotte
- 2010 Château Smith Haut Lafitte
- 2013 Domaine Raveneau Chablis Butteaux 1er Cru
- 2005 Château Pape Clément
Wines to Gift at a Once-in-a-Lifetime Event
Some events, like weddings, 25-year anniversaries, or retirement parties, only happen once. This is a great opportunity to give someone a bottle that’s as memorable as the event. In this scenario, you can indulge in more unusual styles of wine, especially if you know your gift recipient’s tastes. This is also the perfect time to buy a much older vintage that’s currently drinking well. Here are a few options:
- 2008 Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon
- 2003 BOND Pluribus
- 1999 Château d’Yquem
- 1996 Château Pontet-Canet
- 1986 Château d’Yquem
Wines to Impress Your Partner’s Parents
Meeting someone’s parents for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience, but a great bottle of wine can certainly smooth things over. Not only does it show your partner’s parents that you’re excited to meet them, but it also is a great conversation starter. Nothing breaks the ice like a fine bottle of Champagne or a perfectly paired red wine. Here, it’s important to stick with crowd-pleasers like:
- 2010 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Rennina
- 2009 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon GIII Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard
- 2007 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva
- 2007 Taittinger Brut Comtés de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
- NV Krug Grande Cuvée 162nd Edition
While these wines are sure to impress any recipient, not all of them can be found in local wine shops. To discover the best wines to gift, you have to know where to look for truly rare bottles of excellent quality.
Where to Find the Best Wines to Gift
The easiest way to buy wines to gift is through an online marketplace that caters to serious wine enthusiasts. The best online retailers offer a mix of the top recent vintages as well as older vintages that make perfect gifts and are drinking beautifully now. Some of the benefits of shopping for wine gifts online include:
- The ability to find hundreds of ultrarare bottles most wine shops don’t stock.
- Having the option to have the wine shipped directly to your gift recipient’s front door (great for surprises or when you’re not able to visit them in person).
- Custom recommendations from experienced staff.
- The convenience of shopping for a gift from the comfort of your home.
- The best retailers also offer additional services like professional storage, which can make a great gift for the wine lover on your list.
With access to the world’s greatest wine vintages and help from experienced wine experts, you’ll find the perfect bottle to make a lasting impression and set yourself apart from the 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 finest wine.