Is it just me or do we all feel like we have too much “stuff” … I seriously try to avoid gifting “things” these days, unless of course, they are things that can be consumed like WINE! But I do understand the stress of picking out a bottle for someone…there are so many questions…What do they really like? How much should I spend? Will they share the bottle with me (ha,ha)?!
Well, my general answer would be: Don’t overthink it and keep your spending in your comfort zone (there are special bottles at all price points)!
Beyond that, here are some tips that I use myself for my own wine gifting…
Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles!
SO many folks rarely splurge on a bottle of bubbles for themselves, and bubbles ALWAYS enhance the holiday cheer – so decide on your price point and peruse all the sparkling wines of the world! The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank as there’s plenty of great sparkling from around $20 on up. Of course, I would recommend a small producer and perhaps either a cremant (French sparkling made in Champagne method but outside the Champagne region) or a Petillant Naturel (aka Pet Nat). The reality is that it’s difficult to find a mass produced Pet Nat!
Bottles With a Story!
Many of y’all know that this is basically our mantra at the shop I run (EOX) where we focus on family owned wineries that truly have great stories. But some just really hit home.
Pinon Vouvray: I have always loved the wines of Francois and Julien Pinon, but this is a very sentimental release as Francois passed away this year. Thankfully, Julien will continue the great legacy of outstanding Loire Chenin Blanc (both still and sparkling – see sparkling in cover photo).
Lecci & Brocci Chianti: Sabrina Lastrucci took over from her father Vasco in 2011, who was an avid hobbyist but sold off all his fruit. Now Sabrina not only makes mouth-watering Chianti Classico but also creates her own labels with elegant line drawings.
Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon: This is not just another Napa Cab but rather one from a founding father of Napa wine. Togni moved to Napa in 1959 and worked his first vintage at Mayacamas. He went on to be the founding winemaker at Chappellet and then bought his own land on Spring Mountain in 1975. Today at 95 he continues to be involved, working alongside his daughter Lisa, and making just 3 wines. They control every aspect of their small winery, and their TLC is apparent in every bottle.
If You Like X…Then Try Y…
While I surely aim to please with my gifting, there’s no fun in buying someone the same old bottle they enjoy day in and day out. We all get stuck in our wine ruts, and sometimes a little friendly push can bring a fresh perspective. For instance, a very common thing I hear…my Uncle Joe only drinks California Cab, and I would love to expand his horizons…
Try these on for size:
If you like Cali Cab…then try rich reds from the Southern Rhone (Gigondas or the infamous Châteauneuf-du-Pape) or Southern Italy (Aglianico and/or Sangiovese from Umbria)!
If you like Pinot Noir…then try Gamay from Beaujolais or Pais from Chile!
If you like Pinot Grigio…then try minerally whites from Muscadet (in the Loire Valley) or Gruner Veltliner from Austria!
If you like Sauvignon Blanc…then try crisp whites from northeastern Italy like Friulano or Kerner!
When In Doubt – Fun Labels Win
(if you are at a reputable wine shop)!
Nearly every day I hear someone admit (usually with a sheepish smile), I can’t help it, I shop by label! Well hey, as long as you are shopping with us (hint, hint) or any small, independent wine shop then I say go for it. In the past 10 years, many wineries have followed in the path of craft breweries with well designed and oftentimes FUN labeling. Now, I am not talking about the critter wine at the grocery store but rather wines like Es Okay and Folk Machine in Cali and even Old World wines like La Boutanche and more.
Happy shopping – just remember to keep it local whenever possible!
Hope everyone enjoys a safe & happy holiday season!!