How do You Pick a Great Gift Wine? 5 Tips for Festive Sips

Want to give someone a bottle of wine this year?

On Global Television’s Morning Show, we chat about quick tips on how to choose a great gift wine this holiday.


Wine Gifts Global Dec 2015



Wine is a great gift because:

–    one size fits all
–    doubles are fine
–    it’s easy to re-giftchristmas gift bag wine B


– it’s easy to return for cash without a receipt

– wine doesn’t have to be cared for and it should never be watered

– it’s consumable so it doesn’t create clutter adding to more stuff in your home

How to decide which wine to give?

– match the wine to the person’s taste, if you know it

– match the wine to the person’s heritage i.e. Italian amarone

– match the wine to the dinner if you’re a guest

– choose a vintage that celebrates an anniversary for the couple, when they met, a birthday etc

– create a bottle gift set: one to drink now, one to drink next Christmas and one to drink 5 years from now

– create a book and bottle gift set

Otherwise: match the wine to the personality, just for fun!

You can get all my wine reviews of great gift wines (including those for yourself) showing the stock for each bottle at your closest liquor stores.

You can also watch our team members recommending gift wines on CTV’s Morning Show and Rogers Daytime Television.



Wine Gifts Global Dec 2015 B



Here are the Gift Wines that We Featured:


Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection ChardonnayRobert Mondavi
Central Coast, California

Full-bodied, luscious and rich with layers of butterscotch goodness. The bonus? This wine comes with its own mini Ugly Christmas Sweater. Pair this wine with roast turkey dinner and cashing in your Google stock. Price:




Personal Trainer

No, a muscular, robust red wine would not be cliché, especially not after all that ab work she’s done with you. However, the wine can’t simply be lots of fruit up front, it also has to have inner core strength and balance, as well as the ability to hold together in the glass. Since she’s all about go-local with fresh produce, give her a homegrown wine as well. You can also give this wine to your Pilates instructor, yoga master or Tai Chi coach.


Meiomi Wines Pinot Noir
California, United StatesMeiomi

Clean, crisp and refreshing with lovely aromas and flavours of green apple and white peach. Amazingly great price for this quality. Very versatile with local produce as well as fresh seafood and thanking your trainer for being the queen of fitness gurus.






Now here’s a person who has a great sense of humour (they laugh at your jokes when you’re in the chair), but  also takes styling your mop seriously. Give them a wine that’s versatile, clean and fuss-free like your coif, but also has a label with a sense of fun and modern style.


Castelgiocondo Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino
Tuscany, ItalyCastelgiocondo Marchesi De' Frescobaldi

A big black bruiser of a wine loaded with dark fruit, savoury bacon, dark spices and mint aromas. Full-bodied and smooth. Vibrant and full of personality, just like your hairdresser, even when her arms are going numb. Shiraz food pairings: beef prosciuttos, black bean soup, blue cheese, pepper steak. Alcohol: 14.5%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2016  Best Beef Wine  Price: $54.95 Score: 95/100





Financial Planner

You appreciate how her conservative investments protected your portfolio during the recession. And now that the economy is recovering, you can give her a blue-chip wine this year; a brand that has been long established and well-known for delivering consistently good quality in the bottle at the price point.


Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection ChardonnayRobert Mondavi
Central Coast, California

Full-bodied, luscious and rich with layers of butterscotch goodness. The bonus? This wine comes with its own mini Ugly Christmas Sweater. Pair this wine with roast turkey dinner and cashing in your Google stock. Price:




The Boss

Choose this wine carefully: tasteful, but not showy; unusual, but not wacky. You want to give your boss a wine that says you’ve thought about the choice carefully, but not obsessively. Go with a premium sparkling wine that doesn’t have the price tag of Champagne, but does have the taste.


Villa Maria Private Bin Sparkling Sauvignon BlancVilla Maria 2015
Marlborough, New Zealand

An astronomically great value compared to Champagne. Toasty and refreshing and crisp. Great aperitif or try it with oysters or mussels. An absolutely stunning bottle that makes this a gorgeous gift wine. Why not?






Domaine De Bila-HautTeacher

Domaine De Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem M. Chapoutier
Côtes De Roussillon-Villages, Midi A.C., France






Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel
Lodi, California, United States  Ravenswood Zin







Travel Agent

He’s traveled the world and has planned terrific vacations for you. You’ve always discussed your latest wine finds with him. He’s become intrigued by your recent interest in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. He’s been to the country, of course, but hasn’t tried many of the wines yet.


Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand

Monkey Bay wines take their name from a small bay on the coast of Marlborough in the South Island. A legendary monkey was once believed to inhabit this secluded spot. (Your travel agent loves tidbits like this.) The wine has vibrant, zesty aromas of lime, chives, grass, lemongrass and green apples. Medium-bodied and mouth-watering. Pair with: grilled swordfish, turkey burgers and planning a trip to New Zealand.




How do You Pick a Great Gift Wine? 5 Tips for Festive Sips

Liza: It’s the time of the year to find the perfect gift for everyone from the hairdresser to your personal trainer. So we’ve enlisted the help of wine expert Natalie MacLean from Canada’s largest wine review site to show you how to give the best gift … the right wine.

Natalie: Exactly, good to be back with you both.

Liza: Hello! Great to have you here.

Jeff: You know what Natalie I said here just before we come on that you and I are going to have words today because this is like the most dangerous segment we do, I think. Well, Natalie because we try this great wine and then I get hooked on something new.

Liza: I know.

Jeff: When you’re here last time …

Liza: It will be, it’s going to be this time, I’ve tried this.

Natalie: I’m doing my job then if you’re hooked.

Liza: Yes.

Natalie: And you’re an enabler, are you a wine enabler?

Jeff: Yes.

Liza: If you’re really going above and beyond then you have a financial planner?

Natalie: Exactly.

Liza: You did have included that on the list?

Natalie: I have, so we have Robert Mondavi, a recognizable name from California.

Liza: Yes.

Natalie: A blue-chip wine for your financial planner because you appreciate your financial planner’s sound investments. These come in at only about $15-$16 dollars each.

Liza: Right.

Natalie: Plus there’s the bonus of the ugly Christmas sweater.

Liza: It comes with that?

Natalie: It does. And we have a life-size one as well for probably Jeff, right?

Liza: Yes.

Natalie: Yes, there you go. Look at that.

Jeff: Very nice, okay.

Liza: I loved it. That’s hysterical, alright; so for the teacher?

Natalie: Okay, so I’ve picked something with a Latin label.  See I can’t even say it but you know she’ll appreciate the erudition … the liquid erudition. So Bila-Haut it’s from Chapoutier in France. It’s a full-bodied robust red for when she’s filling out report cards especially your child’s report card. It’s a nice gift. Wine is really a good gift, period.

Liza: I just want to say I like that parenting talk.

Jeff: Yes, exactly.

Natalie: Exactly.

Liza: It’s right.

Natalie: Exactly.

Jeff: This will guarantee your child an “A”.

Liza: Yes, that one is good.

Natalie: But you know when it comes to wine as a gift, one size fits all and doubles are fine. You don’t want two toasters but two of that bottle would be just fine.

Liza: Very good wine.

Natalie: And it’s very re-giftable. If you give something not to their taste, they can pass it on down the line.

Liza: Brilliant, now for your hairdresser?

Natalie: Hairdresser, I think we have a graphic of this Frescobaldi which is an Italian red wine. I think it got stuck at the North Pole or the elves where thirsty. Anyway we can look at the graphic. So Frescobaldi for your hairdresser …  now I should clarify that Frescobaldi is not the Italian translation for freshly bald head.

Liza: Yes.

Natalie: Don’t get worried about this wine or giving it to your hairdresser. It’s a deep rich red wine from the heart of Tuscany, made by the Frescobaldi Family for generations. She’ll love it.

Liza: Your boss?

Natalie: Your boss, this is where we have to be careful because if you give something that’s too extravagant, he’ll think or she’ll think that you don’t need that pay raise.

Liza: Yes.

Jeff: Right.

Natalie: If you cheap out, they’ll think well what’s the deal here?

Jeff: Yes. This person, obviously doesn’t think a lot of me.

Natalie: Exactly. Go for the smart gifts. So instead of Champagne, I’m suggesting Villa Maria a Sparkling wine from New Zealand, that’s new on the market. We’ll should open some of these to see if it’s a gift worthy.

Jeff:  This is also why I called this the most dangerous segment.

Liza: I’ve tried that label before but did they do a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir?

Natalie: They do a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from New Zealand. It’s the most dangerous time of the show but it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?

Liza: Well that’s pleasant, that’s very pleasant.

Natalie: Nice lime lift.

Jeff: Yes.

Natalie: So it’s a fraction of the price of Champagne, your boss will appreciate it.

Liza: Very good! Alright,  and your personal trainer?

Natalie: Your personal trainer.

Liza: (inaudible)

Natalie: Yes, okay. Actually I’ve got something for her or him. Now, robust muscular red would just be cliché, right? You want something with inner core strength and balance.

Liza: You have thought this out.

Natalie: I have.

Natalie:  It’s a Pinot Noir … this new California wine is from Sonoma. It has lots of resveratrol,  the antioxidant.

Liza: Oh right!

Natalie: So your personal trainer is going to love this.

Liza: Right.

Natalie: She will drink it.

Jeff: So it’s okay if I show up at the gym with this later today?

Natalie: Yes.

Liza: In your water bottle.

Natalie: As long as you’ve done your abs work first, right? So a nice gift, it’s a smooth lighter red; so it’s not a punched down kind of red.

Liza: That’s one of my favourite wines, period.

Natalie: It is? Yes, good.

Jeff: You know what, I hate to say it but you called it, this is really good.

Liza: Right.

Natalie: Isn’t it a nice, smooth Pinot Noir? It’s also a switch-hitter wine. So if you’re having a party and you’re not sure of everybody’s taste.

Liza: Right.

Natalie: You don’t want a big red or a wimpy red but a nice, smooth, satin, velvety liquid.

Liza: I’m glad you reminded me of that one.

Natalie: Good, happy to help.

Liza: Happy Holidays to me.

Jeff: Wednesday Wines day.

Liza: Natalie MacLean, thank you so much.

Natalie: My pleasure, cheers!

We also discussed this festive topic on CBC Ontario Morning in the audio clip below.



Click on the arrow above to listen to the clip above.

You can also listen to our discussion about holiday gift wines on CBC Metro Morning.

Posted with permission of CBC.





How do You Pick a Great Gift Wine? 5 Tips for Festive Sips – Gift Wines: How to Choose One – CBC Ontario Morning

Wei: Well I’ll assume it would be easy to purchase Ontario wines. Premier Kathleen Wynne say’s, “VQA wines which are made with only Ontario grapes will be available at farmer’s markets.” My next guest welcomes the news and she has some gift ideas for the Ontario wine lovers on your list. Natalie MacLean is a sommelier and the editor of Canada’s largest wine review site We’ve reached her at her home in Ottawa, good morning Natalie.

Natalie: Good morning, Wei.

Wei: So what will this news mean for Ontario wineries?

Natalie: I think it is definitely good news. It will give smaller wineries more access to new customers, new revenue and just a stronger foothold in the customer relationship. A lot of these wineries; there are more than a hundred of them, don’t actually have their wines in LCBO stores. So they either sell directly from the winery when people visit or they may have some sort of mailing list. They mail the wine out within the province but other than that, they can’t reach new customers. This news will give them that opportunity.

Wei: Are all wineries part of this VQA?

 Natalie: VQA … Vintner’s Quality Alliance, is a strict regulation series of guidelines in terms of how the wines are made.  Not all wines within Ontario are VQA. Some are called ICB … they are a blend of Ontario grapes and international grapes or wines bottled here in Canada. They are not eligible  just VQA.

Wei: Okay, so it doesn’t mean that you can get all Ontario wines at the Farmer’s Market then. Alright. If we’re on the hunt for someone on our gift list, do you actually recommend wines based on the personality of the person you’re giving it to.

Natalie: Absolutely.

Wei: So, let’s talk about that. What if someone we know is a persons that is very bubbly, what gift would you give them?

Natalie: Well, you know for someone who has lots of personality,  I would go with a Reif Estate Empress Chardonnay. You know she’s the queen of conversation if she has lots to say. This is a lovely wine. It is crisp, it’s refreshing and there’s flavours of green apple.  What’s terrific about this wine is not only is it a VQA wine, it’s just $13 and it is actually available in the LCBO as well as from Reif Estate Winery.  It’s a terrific one. Of course, you could also go with a Sparkling wine if she’s got that bubbly personality, too.

Wei: What about someone who’s got a great sense of humour?

Natalie: Yes, like my hairdresser. For that one I would go with Megalomaniac the Narcissist Riesling. Yes, it is perfect for a hairdresser or anyone you know who has a great sense of humour. I love this series of wines from the Megalomaniac Winery also in Niagara, a VQA wine, also now in the LCBO. It’s not just the humourous labels but these are really terrific wines. This is a Riesling which is great for roast turkey and all the fixings. Its $16.95, a real steal and it’s a fun gift wine, too.

Wei: How about matching someone who is maybe a little bit more conservative?

Natalie: Well, then you want the sort of blue-chip wines. Here, you want to go high-end probably from Niagara. Now we’re looking maybe at Le Clos Jordanne … a Pinot Noir which of course is called the heartbreak grape because of what it does to your wallet. It’s hard to grow, so it’s expensive. Usually you’re splurging on this one … you know for your financial planner. They make a range of Pinot Noir starting at about $25, that’s their entry level. They go up to about $60 for their Grand Cru so depending on how naughty or nice that person has been, then you can choose whatever Pinot Noir suits.

Wei: I don’t even know do you buy your boss a bottle of wine?

Natalie: This is a hard one to negotiate, you have to be careful, if you give a wine that’s too expensive he’ll think “Well she really doesn’t need a raise now, does she?” If it’s too cheap, well you got to…

Wei: You look too cheap.

Natalie: … you’re too cheap, go back to the mailroom. So for this I would choose Champagne, a very traditional wine around the holiday. Why not go for a great bubbly from the Niagara Region like Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling Wine? It’s a fraction of the cost of Champagne. It is $25, it’s terrific, it’s toasty, it’s bubbly and I think Champagne or Sparkling wine is always a good gift wine when you’re not sure of the person’s taste. You know they’ll use it around this time of the year for a toast and it also goes well with turkey dinner.

Wei: Natalie, cheers! Thank you so much.

Natalie: You too Wei, Happy Holidays!

Wei: Merry Christmas! Natalie MacLean is the editor of Canada’s largest wine review site




Posted with permission of Global TV.






Leave a Reply