Buying wine as a gift - How to make the right choice

Buying wine as a gift can be difficult. Buying wine as a gift for someone who you think knows about wine can be downright intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, though.

There are a number of websites online that give you “ten top tips” for gifting wine, so I don’t plan to do that here.  As a wine gift list site, though, we are able to offer some guidance as you navigate the options and choosing the wine gift: If you don’t have a particular wine in mind, then it is best to start your thought process by narrowing down your options:  there are countless different wines for endless taste preferences, so it’s important to make the task easier for yourself and this can be done in a number of different ways.

First of all, consider what wine you like – does the intended recipient of your gift like the same sort of wine?  If so, then picking something you like is a good way of narrowing the field and gives you something to say in your message: I love this Marlborough Pinot Noir – so smooth! – and hope you enjoy drinking it as much as I do, Lots of love,

It’s always good advice to read the label: sometimes this is more helpful than others as you have to navigate the jargon, flamboyant tasting notes and promotional language.  Don’t get distracted by the images and story, you should look for a few key details:

  • The grape variety: this isn’t always listed; however, knowing the types of grape used to make the wine can give you an idea of how the wine will taste
  • The name of the producer: perhaps it one you know (like a famous Champagne house), or perhaps one that you can quickly research to assess quality
  • The country/ region: smaller/ more specific regions can be an indication of a more refined quality
  • The vintage: age is important for lots of reasons depending on the variety; however, knowing if it’s a specific vintage vs. non-vintage can also indicate quality

If you are worried that they know their wine and you don’t, then perhaps look for something a bit rarer.  We always caution against going obscure, without reason – an Armenian wine may be very appropriate for the pal you visited the Ararat Plain with – and so a less well-known grape variety will be better than something entirely unfamiliar.  I always think giving a wine made from a lesser known grape variety (that you’ve tried and enjoyed) demonstrates a thoughtful gift.

To that end, English wine is increasingly in vogue and ticks the boxes of something a bit different and local.

Alternatively, consider the occasion for the gift: is it a milestone birthday and so something more celebratory might fit the bill?  Is a specific year relevant?  And thus, a matching vintage would be a nice touch.   

It can also be helpful to think about when the gift recipient will likely be drinking the gift.  Should it be a sumptuous red wine, just right for relaxing in the warm away from the winter elements?  Or a refreshing, quaffable white wine to serve as the perfect aperitif on date night?  Maybe a bottle of rosé for a sunny afternoon in the park or garden?

If you’re really not sure, then you could consider a wine subscription as a gift – and this doesn’t have to be as expensive a gift as you might initially think: gift cards are available for Josh’s Wine List, which is a monthly wine subscription of two bottles accompanied by detailed and insightful tasting notes.

There are also other ways to make a wine gift extra special.  Larger bottles are not only a bit of fun, they’re also memorable and a real party piece.  Whether it’s a magnum you’re looking for, or something even bigger

Finally, don’t forget to add a gift tag with your personal message – and for me, that shouldn’t stop at the gift bag label: it needs to be on the bottle!  All of the bottles bought from the Hollington Wine Company are individually labelled so that the recipient knows who it is from when they drink and enjoy it!

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Buying wine as a gift – How to make the right choice