Holiday parties, family gatherings, and festive weekends make up the holidays for most of us. A bottle of good wine adds to the festivities or makes a great gift for a friend, host, or party gift.
Now that I work part time in wine retail, the number of customers wanting suggestions is surprising. It’s very satisfying to talk a customer through some options and hope you’ve made them and the gift recipient happy.
If you want to give wine during the holidays you’re job is much easier if you know just a little bit about your friend’s wine drinking habits. Do they drink red or White? Do they like bold wines or lighter bodied wines? Do you know if they have a favorite winery? And do you know the general price range of the wines they drink.
Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to take a grocery store wine to someone who is drinking Napa Cabernet or French Burgundy.
Knowing those few characteristics not only helps you buy a better gift but it will help your wine shop specialist recommend ideas for a perfect gift.
Now, how about some suggestions?
Let’s mention a couple white wines and a couple of reds. A beautiful gift is a bottle of French white Burgundy – or Chardonnay. White burgundy is rich, subtle and elegant. You can spend $60-$70 easily on a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet or $100-$300 on a bottle of Batard-Montrachet. But let’s face it, most aren’t spending in that category. But you can still give white Burgundy. You’ll find several in the $15-$25 dollar range at your nearby wine shop. Try Drouhin’s Saint-Veran’s for a smooth introduction to white Burgundy. Saint-Veran’s is widely available for $15-$18.
Italian whites seem to be improving by the year. Often the grapes and wines will be new to people. The wines tend to be bigger on fruit while maintaining a food-friendly dryness. And they tend to be really tasty. Look for Trebbiano, Garganega, Vermentino, or Verdicchio.
When it comes to red wine, there is never a better and safer gift than Pinot Noir. Even a consumer of big, bold red wines can appreciate the finesse and depth of good Pinot Noir. The trick is finding good Pinot at a reasonable price. That is where you might need some help so don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.
I think the sweet spot for affordable Pinot Noir is $20-$35 for a bottle of entry-level Oregon Pinot Noir. I’ve never thought you could find much Burgundy at that price but was recently impressed with Prosper Maufoux burgundy. You can find the Maufoux at better wine shops for around $20.
Finally, drink more sparkling wine. You can find delicious Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava starting for as low as under $10. You should keep a couple bottles around the house just for fun. The very best Prosecco – look for Valdobbiadene on the label – can be affordable at $20-$30.
Champagne is never cheap but always worth it. Entry level French champagne – the world’s best bubbbles – can now be found in most markets at $35-$50. Of course, the price on legitimate French Champagne can go up to hundreds of dollars per bottle.
Lift your glass and enjoy your holiday!