8 Wines To Give As Gifts

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The last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself being sucked into live videos on Facebook from various food blogs and magazines while I’m taking a break from finishing contracts. There are walk-through videos of Thanksgiving dishes and Christmas crafts, and I keep waiting for one of them to appear with a “wine gifting guide” but it hasn’t happened yet. 

Throughout the next six weeks, you’re likely going to find yourself invited to various festivities and I am of the belief it’s never polite to show up empty handed. Wine is the perfect gift to give to your host as a way to show your appreciation. Below are eight wines to gift this holiday season, all with the exception of two, under $50.

The question we get all too frequently is “how much should I spend on a bottle?” Obviously let your bank account be your guide, but I generally prefer to spend somewhere in-between $35 and $50 per bottle. Of course there are some really fantastic wines available for far less, however these moderately priced wines tend to please the gift receiver because they tend to be more memorable, more nuanced. Cheaper wines tend to be bulk wines and are consistent throughout the years, but that doesn’t guarantee they’re any more than average when you consider the residual sugar and other additives added to enhance flavors. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have a wine shop nearby, Hahn, Kendall-Jackson, Ghost Pines, Francis Ford Coppola and Chateau St. Michelle are worthy of your money and are widely available. If you’re buying for a millennial who is indifferent to wine, Chronic Cellars is moderately priced with cool labels and is available online and at some Costcos around the nation.

Tip #1: Steer away from bottles that are easily found on the shelves of your local market.

Our pick: Grosset Springvale Riesling 

Unless you know your host will only drink Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay, select a crowd-pleasing wine that can be enjoyed year-round. 

Tip #2: Buy a bottle that can be enjoyed immediately.

Our pick: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé * you’re going to want one for yourself. 

If your host tends to open bottles as they come through the door, Champagne or sparkling wine goes with everything. 

Tip #3: To really impress your host, buy a library wine that can be enjoyed now or continue developing for the next ten years.

Our pick: Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2010 

If you’re attending a gathering hosted by a wine collector, select a bottle that’s already been aging for five or six years and will continue developing for the next ten plus years. Prepare to spend a little bit more on this bottle, but you can find some truly outstanding wines that fit the bill for under $100.

Tip #4: If you don’t know their wine preferences, play it safe.

Our pick: Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel 2012

If you’re unsure of their wine palate, it’s best to select a medium bodied wine that is the perfect balance between sweet and dry. Zinfandel is one of those wines that can be enjoyed with a bevy of foods from pizza to barbecue. 

Tip #5: Select interesting wines for the budding wino.

Our pick: Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc 2013

If your host has recently gotten into wine, blends and wines from up-and-coming regions are a sure way to impress. Rhone blends are new to many and appreciated by most, especially with that special meal.

Tip #6: Buy a bottle that’s great for a crowd.

Our pick: Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay 2012

If your host throws a lot of dinner parties chances are they open a lot of bottles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay because they’re widely known wine varietals. Select something from an unusual region, such as New Zealand (known for their Sauvignon Blanc) or Chile (heavy, bold red wines), for a real conversation starter.

Tip #7: Perfect pairing for the chef.

Our pick: Frog's Leap Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

If your host is known for their culinary skills, a nice bottle of a bold, heavy red will be consumed and enjoyed sometime throughout the holidays. Every chef needs a quality bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon stashed away to bring out just for that special occasion. 

Tip #8: Napa-quality Pinot Noir without the Napa price.

Our pick: Siduri Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot Noir is all the rage right now and people flock to bottles from Napa and Sonoma, which can sometimes come with a pretty hefty price tag. Be aware that not all Pinot Noirs are created equally, especially when they’re coming from different regions.

Are you giving wine to your hosts' throughout the holiday season? What's your method for selecting bottles?