Holiday cheer: Gifting Wine.

Holiday cheer: Gifting Wine.

I am probably developing a reputation as "that guy" who give wine for every occasion: you're getting married!? Champagne! Your birthday? Cult cab! This is most certainly due in part to my enthusiasm and passion, and also to the point that it's "all I know". That being said, I believe that I've gotten pretty ok at gifting wine, so I'll share a few of my "wine guy" secrets with you.

Firstly, if you're budget conscious, establish a number that you don't want to exceed, and stay within budget. If you were willing to get this person a fifty-dollar sweater or speaker system for the holidays, think about a wine in the same range. Don't cheap out. If your friend or family member wanted a bottle of cheap wine, they could very possibly get it for themself. If you were going to try to spend as little as possible, try to find something hard to get, possibly from a great vintage and region, or a new blend from a respected wine maker. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to dip below the ten-dollar mark, but occasionally you can find a gem at a steal of a price.

Don't purchase clearance wines. "Last chance" wines are a gamble that can sometimes pay off, but if a wine is on clearance it is probably because it's going bad or because it doesn't drink as well as anticipated, often they are down-right terrible. The whole idea of gifting wine should be to provide someone with a pleasant experience of discovery, broadening horizons, and of course to show that you know your stuff. Giving a bottle that turns out to be no good can counter all of these goals.

Go obscure, but know what you're getting. An example I often give are South African Pinotage and many South American Malbec. People are intrigued, and have perhaps heard or read about these "up-and-comers" and naturally curiousity kicks in. But, for the love of the vine, try something like this before gifting it, as SA Pinotage is only for a very specific palate (they can be quite "coppery", spicy, and vegetal), and some Argentine Malbecs are universal while others still are highly unique and certainly not for everyone. If you are a fan of a certain lesser known style, however, like either of the aforementioned, or such as French Beaujolais or Australian Shiraz / Viogner, you may consider giving out these, you unique "go-to", maybe your name will become synonomous with this wine within your circle.

More is not neccessarily better. Rather than opt for several wines of a lower cost, consolidate to one bottle of wine that you're proud to give. Again, if they wanted something cheap like Barefoot or Yellowtail, they could most likely furnish that for themselves. If you are on a serious budget, consider wine accessories rather than actual wine. A nice wine charm, set of crystal wine glasses, a decanter, or even a cool wine opener like the "Rabbit" can be a way for the person you are giving a gift to to enjoy your present time and time again, and think of you every time they use it.

My website, theswirler.com, is back under construction, but as soon as we get back close to where we've been with reviews, please feel free to utilize the resource to find our top-rated wines at your desired price-point. For now, I will leave you with some of my top gifted wines at a comfortable price point. If you would like tasting notes and descriptions, or recommendations for wines at a slightly higher price point, please e-mail me at corythewineguy@yahoo.com, or leave a comment below. Happy holidays!

Michele Chiarlo "Nivole" Moscato d'Asti - a charming, sweet, lightly sparkling white wine from Italy.

Bonterra Organic Cabernet Sauvignon - a balanced, full-bodied, expressive red wine from California.

Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc - a light, elegant white wine from California.

Panther's Creek Pinot Noir - a medium-bodied, velvetty, complex, earthy red wine from Oregon.

Inniskillin "Vidal" Ice Wine - a late-harvest Canadian dessert wine, comparable to French Sauternes.

Rodney Strong "Symmetry" - a world-class Meritage ("Meritage"-"Heritage"; Bordeaux-style blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot).

I do have some favorite retailers that always seem to have the best price on the best wine - I will probably go over some in a blog soon. I hope that this has been informative, and that you are finding yourself in the midst of an excellent day! All my best, until next time - CHEERS!

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  • You didn't pick up on the method my sister used to use: regifting wine. That at least limits your choices, making the selection much easier.

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    Cory Warfield

    I am a server at Mastro's Steak House. I have been a wine-director and staff sommelier at a variety of concepts over the course of fifteen years. In addition to studying, enjoying, and writing about wine, and working as a waiter, I am a singer/songwriter, and enjoy spending time with my beautiful other half, Rebecca, and our dogs. I am from Chicago, but have lived years on- and off in Telluride, Colorado, which is where I met Rebecca in 2009, and where I first had the privilage of studying with a Master Sommelier, as well as my first high-end server position at the New Sheridan Chop House.

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