Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Last-Minute Wine Gifts

It’s Christmas Eve and you still haven’t bought a gift for someone you’ll see today or tomorrow. Well that’s a problem, isn’t it? You can either try your luck at the mall or run into a wine shop and pick up a bottle. But what to get?

If you know what the person likes to drink, then it should be easy — assuming you can find that wine in the store. But what if you don’t?

Here’s an idea — buy a wine that the person likely wouldn’t buy for himself or herself, but might enjoy. Re-read that last part of the sentence; you don’t want to get a Napa Cab for someone you usually prefers to drink a light Pinot Grigio.

What you buy depends on what you want to spend — and whether you want the other person to know how much you spent. For example, if you buy a very well-known brand such as Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, your recipient will know that you spent about thirty bucks. Or if you buy a bottle of Opus One, the giftee knows you pulled out a Benjamin. Personally, I think buying a well-known brand is akin to leaving the price tag on a gift — but the choice is yours.

Instead, choose a wine variety or region that you know your recipient enjoys (i.e., Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Rioja, etc.) but get something a little off-the-wall, from a different region, and / or in a higher price range from what your friend normally would drink. For example, if your friend is a big fan of California Pinot Noir, get a bottle of French Pinot Noir. Or if he/she usually drinks a specific brand of Chianti Classico, choose one from a different winery in the same or higher price range. Gifting is all about getting something that the recipient normally wouldn’t buy for himself / herself — and you may introduce the person to a new favorite wine.

But what if you have absolutely no idea what kind of wine your giftee drinks? Take the easy way out — buy a bottle of bubbly. If you are willing to spend the ducats, get “real” Champagne from France — there are wonderful non-vintage examples in the $25-30 range from respected houses such as Pommery, Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Nicolas Feuillatte, and others (one of my favorites is Heidsieck Monopole “Blue Top”, if you’re buying for me). Nearly everyone who drinks wine appreciates a bottle of good Champagne — and even if they don’t, they’ll have something to bring with them to the New Year’s bash next week.

Now if you have absolutely no idea what wine to get, and know for sure the person won’t appreciate Champagne (I suppose it’s possible?), then the next-best gift would be either a really fancy corkscrew — such as by Laguiole — or a set of high-quality lead crystal wine glasses (such as made by Riedel). With these high-ticket items, you generally will get what you pay for, and nearly every good wine shop will carry them. When it comes to the glasses, you might even consider getting one very expensive hand-blown glass — something like this Riedel Sommeliers Series Bordeaux Grand Cru. No doubt your wine geek will be thrilled with such a gift — how many people will spend upward of $75 for a wine glass? — and guard it safely in the china closet.

Last but not least, if you don’t want to go to ANY store, I have one last-minute idea — a gift certificate to Restaurant.com. All you do is visit the site, buy the gift certificate, and print it out. Since most wine geeks are also “foodies”, treating him or her to a dinner at a fine restaurant is just as good, if not better, than a bottle of wine. Follow the link below for a crazy deal — THREE BUCKS for a $25 gift certificate. You read that right. Merry Christmas:

70% off sale at Restaurant.com. Purchase $25 Gift Certificates for only $3.00 with coupon code GIFTS!

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