Without wanting to sound old, it’s crazy how the years continue to fly by. Here we are staring down the barrel of another silly season, and the parties, holidays, and catch ups with family and friends that go along with it. Only problem is, as always… What Christmas presents do you buy?!
If you’re like us, you sometimes opt for the easy out when it comes to buying presents for others: the old classic wine-as-a-gift. Although it’s a go-to crowd favourite and usually appreciated (well, we assume… who wouldn’t love a bottle of wine!) - it can be hard when you’re standing in the bottle shop, faced with row upon row upon row, wondering which particular wine to choose for your neighbour/boss/cousin/colleague/mother-in-law.
To make things easier and hopefully alleviate a little Christmas stress, we’ve compiled a few easy tips to make your next wine-gift purchase a breeze… so you can get onto more important things, like decorating the tree!
Choose red over white
Unless of course you have intel on the giftee's preference for Sav Blanc or Chardonnay... in which case, you may want to stray to the white side. Most people in the know wouldn’t argue that red is superior to white of course, but it’s true that red seems to be more sophisticated than white for some reason. Additionally, as red wine isn’t served chilled, the recipient might even choose to crack it open then and there. Winner!
You can’t go wrong with bubbles
Although we’ve established red over white generally speaking, bubbles are even better still. We all have a reason to celebrate this time of year, and a chilled bottle of sparkling is usually a welcome addition to the gift pile, as it’s even better shared amongst friends. With plenty of local, Aussie and other international varieties around, there’s also no need to stick to the tried-and-tested French Champagne varieties… unless you want to, of course!
Don’t get TOO obscure
Like the dinner table joke that skirts just a little too far to the edge for comfort, you can be a bit too exotic with your wine choices. Stick to safer bets whenever you’re unsure of personal preferences, such as when you’re giving to a Secret Santa colleague, or your distant third-cousin-once-removed. Just because you know the differences between Verdicchio and Verdelho, it doesn’t mean that Mary-Louise will appreciate the finer notes as well.
Budget? What budget?
Sounds obvious, but probably isn’t, in practice! It’s a great idea to narrow your wine-hunt by setting a budget, also ensuring you don’t end up spending much more than you need to spend. Buying cheaper wine, however, does carry a few risks… first of all, it might not be very good, and secondly (and arguably far worse!) - the recipient might know it’s the $9 bottle of Merlot stacked in boxes near the door of their local. Ouch. Generally speaking, if you’re going to buy a gift, it’s worth considering how much you would appreciate them to spend on you, and budget accordingly. Something only slightly pricier than mid-range is usually a safe bet, but it’s worth consulting your local guru, and telling them the amount you’re looking to spend. Which brings us neatly to our next point:
Ask questions - and take your time
Usually, if you’re in a smaller boutique or specialty store, you’re paying for the expertise of the employees there. They will usually know quite a lot about the wines they have in stock, they may have tasted the wines you are thinking of buying, or even have their own tasting notes available. If you’re in a bigger bottle shop, and the average worker appears to be a 19-year-old uni student, it might be a better idea to rely on ye olde Google. Unsurprisingly, looking up a few choices on your phone can be a great idea - you can get critics’ opinions, read alternative descriptions and see any other interesting facts that might not only sway your decision, but also be worth relaying to the giftee. All of this takes some time of course - so don’t leave it to a quick five-minute stop en route to the Christmas event… juuust in case. All in all, figuring out if a wine is something you or your giftee would want to drink can be a daunting task when you’re buying a single bottle - but there’s so much on the market that any reasonably-priced bet is probably going to be fine. Having said that, there’s not much sadder than underappreciated wine, when the recipient doesn’t quite see what you see - so play it safe, but cool with the guidelines above… after all, if you play your cards right, they just might end up sharing it with you. Cheers!
Bottle Service is running Christmas Specials throughout December! Give a loved one with the gift that keeps on giving, why not choose a subscription! See more information on our Dabbler and Connoisseur gift products.