It’s getting perilously close to Christmas and some of us have not finished shopping for the important people in our lives. I know that it can be a daunting task to buy a wine gift for somebody who is really, really into wine, especially if you are not particularly wine knowledgeable yourself. It doesn’t need to be exasperating or expensive to get a great gift for the wine geeks in your life, but here are a few important things to keep in mind:
Do – Decide how much you want to spend before you start looking for a wine-related gift. There is good wine at every price point, but not much under $10.
Don’t – Buy them a wine at a store that sells groceries, including big box stores. It is the wine equivalent of a fruitcake. Most wine aficionados have already combed through every nook and cranny of every such wine department and found the few gems available there. They will know where you bought it and how much you paid for it and will politely drink it if it is passably good or cook with it if it isn’t.
Do – Buy them a wine from a local wine merchant. Ask them for advice. They are experts and speak the same language as the wine geeks in your life. They will give you access to interesting small production wines from all over the world and will explain to you what is so special about them. If you don’t want to get into a long interaction with a wine merchant, and though it may seem impersonal, almost every wine-interested person will love a gift certificate from a specialty wine store.
Don’t – Buy them a wine that is made from anything except grapes. I’m not saying that there aren’t any really good and interesting wines being made from something other than grapes, I’m just saying that the chance of finding them without lots of research or trial and error is pretty slim.
Do – Buy them wine from somewhere you have personally been. Part of what makes wine fun for people is the specificity of ‘place’ implied in each bottle. If you are on vacation in an exotic locale, pick up a few bottles of a local wine and bring them back as gifts.
Don’t – Buy them a wine gadget that seems useful. Wine lovers already own the most useful gadgets around and have grown accustomed to using them. The next new wine opener, decanter, aerator, etc. is not something they want or need. And if there ever is some new technology to the world of wine that represents a true advancement, then most wine geeks will have already acquired it long before anyone else knew it existed.
Do – Buy them a wine gadget that is cute, funny, or frivolous. It will be appreciated. Unless they are a person that doesn’t like things that are cute, funny, or frivolous.
Don’t – Buy them a wine journal. If they feel compelled to write about the wines they drink, they will have already started to do it on their own.
Do – Buy them a book about wine. Some great ones I can personally recommend are Bacchus & Me and A Hedonist in the Cellar by Jay McInerny, Red, White, and Drunk all Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass by Natalie MacLean, and 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World by Gary Vaynerchuk.
And if all else fails then buy them something that isn’t wine related. Their passion doesn’t have to be your burden. Trust me, they’ll find plenty of wine without you.