Is it someone’s birthday soon and you know they’re an avid wine drinker? Got guests coming round for dinner and want to impress with your wine selection?
But how do you choose something suitable from your wine store when you don’t know the difference between a Malbec and Pinot Grigio?
Wine and spirits are ideal as gifts for a variety of occasions – after all, nobody can have too much wine in the house! But there is a significant difference between a good bottle of wine and cheap, nasty wine that takes rather like vinegar.
So to make sure you buy the former, here’s our handy guide to buying wine as a gift or for a special occasion.
Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Wine for Any Occasion
1. What’s Your Budget?
If you have a budget in mind for your wine, this will immediately narrow down the options available to you. And no matter what your budget total, wine will be available to suit this as there are fabulous wines available at all price points.
However, even if your budget is quite tight, it’s still important to make the same considerations – just like you would with other small, heartfelt gifts.
Look for a wine that stands out – something chic and elegant that won’t break the bank. And perhaps go for something that’s less obvious in its variety or style (quirky bottles are always a winner!).
Equally, for the serious wine connoisseur and for landmark occasions, there is no limit to the extraordinary choice of wines available. Just shop around for award-winning varieties or head to your local wine store for their advice (a quick Google of “wine store near me” should point in you in the right direction if you’ve never visited one before).
2. What’s the Occasion?
If you’re buying wine for a meal or party where food will be served, it’s crucial you consider what wine will complement this food. And don’t forget to take note of the type of occasion, as this will affect the mood of the event and thus your choice of wine.
For example, a formal dinner to celebrate your husband’s birthday requires a completely different wine to a poolside barbecue with family and friends. Equally, celebratory occasions may be best suited to something with a bit of fizz to add extra pizzazz to the event.
Also, note whether the wine is going to be drunk there and then or will be preserved in a cellar for several months, perhaps even years. This will also influence your choice of color, style, and variety.
3. What Do They Like?
If you can, try to base your search on the type of wine your recipient likes, rather than what you think they’ll like.
If they’re an avid red drinker, a bubbly, sweet bottle of Moscato might not be the best idea – even if you’re secretly trying to convert them to bubbles.
Not sure what their favorite tipple is or want to have a bit of fun? Then try to find a wine that suits their personality.
What Not to Do When Buying Wine
1. Don’t Underestimate Your Friend’s Knowledge of Wine
There’s a cardinal mistake many wine buyers make, even if they’re a wine collector themselves, and that’s underestimating the recipient’s wine taste. It’s incredibly easy to offend someone with a cheap or sub-par bottle of wine because they’ll feel as though you’re mocking their lack of finesse when it comes to wines.
To avoid this, refer to point 3 above, looking for a wine that you know they like but going one step further to bring them something extra special. For example, if they love oak-infused wines, look for a higher-end wine that boasts these types of flavors.
2. Let the Wine Do the Talking
As much as you may want to wrap up the bottle of wine and adorn it in ribbons, it’s sometimes better to present wine simply. A ribbon around the bottle neck will suffice, for example.
Not only does this make a statement of the wine you’ve bought but it also prevents any mishaps with gift boxes or wrapping paper – and no we’re not referring to the difficulty you may have wrapping bottles up! Rather, these gift wraps can warm bottles of wine up which can be disastrous for certain varieties. A portable cooler is ideal if you know the wine will be spoiled by too much warmth (and if your friend will be putting it in their cellar).
3. Avoid Obscure Varieties
As radical as you or your friend may be, try not to be too off-the-wall with your wine choice. Even wine lovers prefer a bottle of wine they can drink as opposed to something they’re not sure about. A bottle of vintage burgundy or fine Champagne should do the trick, while a dubious bottle of Pigato may leave them wondering where to hide the bottle after you’ve gone.
As you can see, buying wine for an occasion need not be difficult. All it takes is a little bit of research and consideration of your recipient’s taste and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
Feature image via Kazzit