Buying a gift for a wine lover can be deceptively tricky. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot of wine-gadget junk on the market! Something that most-often looks “really cool” on the shelf at Target, once gifted to a wine lover I guarantee will result in them thinking: “What the hell am I going to use this piece of crap for?” The reason I know this is because I’ve had the exact same thought myself on numerous occasions!
Before we move onto my suggestions, let’s first quickly analyze gift-giving in general, and then relate it to wine. Wine gifts should be:
1. Surprising and fun.
Granted a gifting a bottle of Boone’s Farm to a “known wine lover” is both surprising and fun, but a different kind of surprising and fun! With that said, I have at least 3 bottles of Boone’s Farm sat on my wine rack at home. The first time I received a bottle from a friend for my birthday we all had a good laugh about it. By the third bottle, the joke had worn a little thin…
Whatever you choose to buy, make sure you keep the element of surprise at the forefront, and the fun will surely follow. Gifting someone with a bottle of wine you found at the grocery store will not cut it!
2. An item that he/she wouldn’t buy themselves.
Ok, so the Boone’s Farm meets this criteria as well, but again for different reasons!
The key to buying a gift for a wine lover that they wouldn’t buy themselves is simple: If you know they’re generally a Cabernet drinker, find them something similar they would probably also enjoy i.e. Washington State Bordeaux blend, Australian Shiraz, full-bodied Argentine Malbec, aged Spanish Rioja etc.
If you plan on gifting wine, something a little “off the beaten” path is always a good idea, so they can also expand their horizons! Just make sure you don’t get too far away from what you know this particular wine lover drinks e.g. gifting a bottle of Austrian Gruner Veltiner to a a predominantly Cali Cab drinker!
3. Something the recipient will use/drink and enjoy using/drinking.
In order to meet this criteria, practicality is key! Like I said, there’s a lot of junk (both in wine and wine accessories) on the market; but, you need to be able to picture the recipient either using the particular wine accessory, or thoroughly enjoying this particular wine.
Someone (a family member) bought me a bottle of ChocoVine last Christmas…and they didn’t mean it as a joke! It’s ok though, as I still found use for it. I made ChocoVine brownies. It was either that or handing it back to them with a “Wow! You don’t know me at all, do you? Get this crap out of my house ASAP!!!” thrown in for good measure…and that’s just not polite…
Here are my best suggestions for giving gifts to wine lovers:
This should be obvious, but wine lovers appreciate wine! Once again though, just in case I wasn’t clear the first time: DO NOT GIFT A WINE LOVER WITH GROCERY STORE WINE! I’m not saying you need to drop big bucks on a Grand Cru Burgundy; but if you buy from a grocery store, a true wine lover will know it! I promise you, they will!
So what’s the alternative? Well here’s a perfect example: We had a couple of friends over for dinner a few night ago. They stopped in at a wine store here in Jacksonville (Riverside Liquors to be exact), and stated: “We’re going over to Kris Chislett’s house for dinner, can you pick two wines for me?”
Now, they obviously know me at this wine store, but our friends could have quite easily stated: “We’re going to dinner at this guy’s house and he’s really into wine. He’s a bit of a snob…in a fun way though! Could you pick me out a couple of bottles that won’t break that bank, and that he’s probably never tasted? No preference on country…blah blah blah…”
The people working at wine stores love to pick wine for other people. Seriously! They live for it and the bonus is that they can throw some fun facts about the wine your way. This way, you can pretend that you put a lot of thought into the wine and actually did a little research on it. Shoot for $15 and above to “guarantee” something eclectic and with a good story behind it.
Books should be a surefire way to please any self-proclaimed wine aficionado, but you need to be careful. There’s a difference between someone who really enjoys wine and someone who wants to learn more about it! I have friends with huge wine cellars, the contents of which would probably be valued at more than my house is worth, but ask them to name the five red grapes of Bordeaux and they’ll just stare straight through you.
If you’re going to buy a wine book for someone, you need to know that they have a real interest in furthering their knowledge of wine and wine culture.
Here’s a few books I recommend (since I’m reading them myself right now):
- The Curious World of Wine: Facts, Legends, and Lore About the Drink We Love So Much.
- Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age.
- Power Entertaining: Secrets to Building Lasting Relationships, Hosting Unforgettable Events, and Closing Big Deals from America’s 1st Master Sommelier
As already stated, there are a bunch of cheap-gimmicky wine gadgets on the market, and especially during the holidays, retailers shelves seem to be filled with them! Don’t be sucked in!
I’m sure most of you already know I’m a big fan of SoireeHome’s products. The only reason I decided to approach them about sponsoring this website is that I know their stuff works and doesn’t fall apart within a year’s time.
If you’re looking to skew away from “gadgets” altogether, just know that a wine lover can never have enough glasses (just make sure they match their current set for brand and style) and decanters are also a personal favorite of mine. My preference is Nambe.
You may think that wine charms are a little “chintzy,” but you’ll be surprised with the number of times they come in handy, especially around the holidays!
I actually hosted a wine tasting of 75 people at the beginning of this week in someone’s house at a prestigious country club here in Jacksonville. The total event lasted about 2 and a half hours, and I don’t mind saying that we would have been SCREWED if every single wine glass did have its own charm attached to it!, since each glass was almost identical
No-one, I repeat NO-ONE can have enough wine bottle openers! There’s one in each room of my house, two in my laptop bag, at least two in my wife’s hand bag, one in each of our cars and I used to have one attached to my keychain….until it was taken away from me at the airport by the wine key Nazis….which has happened at least 3 times now. I don’t learn!
I’m fairly old school in my preference for wine bottle openers. I like a simple “waiters friend” design. I’ve owned $200 rabbit-style wine openers (which supposedly carry a 10 year warranty, and I’ve broken all of them in less than a year. I’m not a big fan.