Gift stores and wine shops abound with selections for the oenophile. Some practical, most not.
At this time of gift giving, it’s important to decide whether the wine-related gift is whimsical or practical, inexpensive or costly. Do you want to get a chuckle out of the recipient or serious thanks?
On the practical, and inexpensive side, a good waiters’ corkscrew will always be used and appreciated. Also, wine closures are necessities. They are much more effective to use than trying to shove the cork back in. Many people think that it's necessary to consume an entire bottle of sparkling wine, because the cork will not go back in, but there are closures for that as well.
The item I use daily and find indispensable is the Wine Pourer by Drip Stop. It’s easy to use and stops all spills, especially when you have to reach across a table. Your tablecloths and clothing will be the cleaner for it.
All of the gifts above make neat stocking stuffers. Further up the expense ladder, another indispensable gift is a set of good wine glasses. Riedel is the dominant producer; its glasses are available at most wine stores or Crate & Barrel. However, other stemware, such as Lenox, is nearly as good. Riedel wants you to purchase separate glasses for each type of wine, which can get costly. If you are giving to a genuine wine expert, it’s worth the expense and will be much appreciated. Otherwise settle for generic or all-purpose selections.
For the proper wine to give, it’s helpful to research your recipient’s preferences. Is there a penchant for white or red, domestic or foreign, unique or mainstream? Asking those questions or viewing the person’s wine collection will lead you down the proper path.
If you remain unsure, consider respected producers such as Banfi and Antinori in Italy, Guigal and Louis Jadot in France, and Josh and Sterling in the U.S. If your recipient is a golfer, consider wines honoring Arnold Palmer, the Ryder Cup or a selection from Greg Norman. Celebrities in the wine business include Post Malone, Drake, Zac Brown and John Legend, among others. If this research presents too much effort, consider a gift certificate to a local wine retailer or wine-themed restaurant.
A truly wonderful and appropriate gift for a wine lover would be a wine refrigerator. These cost anywhere from $1,000 to many thousands of dollars. They are especially useful in Florida since even red wine can get too warm here. The best refrigerator will have dual controls for red and white wines. Even reds should be chilled slightly.
All wines taste better at the source, so the ultimate and most costly gift would be a trip to wine country, domestic or foreign. Unbelievable memories are created by this experience and a bonding between the consumer and producer is unique and inseparable. Many travel agencies and specialized tours provide these or you can find them in Wine Spectator. Travel restrictions will hopefully ease soon and prices will be attractive.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.