Pairing Gift Wines with Personalities



Why does wine make such an ideal holiday gift? Which wines are the best to give, especially when you don’t know the personal taste of the recipient? Are there some wines you should never give as a gift beyond Two Buck Chuck? How can you match the gift wine to the personality of the giftee?

We’re always talking about pairing wine and food, but how about pairing wine with the people on your holiday gift list? After all, when you give the gift of wine, doubles are fine unlike toaster ovens, there are no wrong sizes unlike that ugly sweater and regifting is so much easier compared to fruit cake or a bathroom scale. On today’s episode of Unreserved Wine Talk, I’m sharing some special bottles for those special people on your shopping list. Enjoy!



  • Why should you give wine as a gift?
  • What makes bubbly the perfect wine for you to bring to a dinner party?
  • Which blue-chip wine has the perfect price-quality ratio for a gift to your financial planner?
  • Where should you look for a zesty wine with a backstory to gift your travel agent?
  • What characteristics make a great gift wine for your hairdresser?
  • Who would make the perfect recipient for a tasteful wine from one of the fastest-growing wine regions?
  • Which robust red wine can you gift to a fitness enthusiast without worry?
  • How can you make sure to pick a gift wine that stands up to analysis for your therapist?
  • Which California wines can you rely on for your online date?
  • What consistent red wine can be enjoyed come snow, rain, sleet or heat?
  • Which imaginative wine choices should you consider for your mechanic?
  • Which wine will pair perfectly with your Christmas spirit?




Wine Reviews


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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 55!

So on with the continuing saga of Miles and Nat… we celebrated our annual holiday spat, I say spat as it’s really not an argument, but rather a good-natured jostling for control of the Christmas decorations.

Specifically, if the tree this year will have multi-colour lights and look like a Las Vegas hotel or lovely sapphire blue and white lights that elegantly match the hand-picked silver decorations. Can you guess who’s on which side?

Anyhoo, white and blue triumphed again this year because Miles is far more good natured and less stubborn than I am. However, I conceded to some multi-colour lights on 2 cedar shrubs outside. That’ll likely escalate in 2020.

So if you’re wondering how to restore peace at home and goodwill toward everyone else, here’s an idea. You and your partner, spouse, best friend or relative can watch my new, free, online video wine class … of course, you can slip away and watch it on your own with a glass or three in hand. It’s called:

The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)

See how that can make petty squabbles about Christmas lights seem so insignificant when you could ruin your holiday meal without the right wine?

It’s all a matter of perspective.

So pick a time and date for this class that works for you at and by the end of the class, we’ll be wishing peace on earth to everyone!

So on with the show… we’re going to have some fun today matching gift wines to the recipient’s personality.

I’ll include links to the wines I mention and the link so that you can signup for my free wine class in the show notes at

We’re always talking about pairing wine and food, but how about pairing wine with the people on your holiday gift list? After all, when you give the gift of wine, doubles are fine unlike toaster ovens, there are no wrong sizes unlike that ugly sweater and regifting is so much easier compared to fruit cake or a bathroom scale.

Plus if you’re trying not add to the clutter in someone else’s life a la Mari Kondo, the gift of a consumable like wine is ideal. But please forget that fruit cake, will you!

With that in mind, here are some special bottles for those special people on your shopping list.

Let’s start with when you’re taking wine to a friend’s house for a dinner party. You can’t go wrong with bubbly. It always sparks joy, as Mari Kondo would say: it’s also so celebratory and sidesteps the landmine of personal taste that’s more of an issue when you’re giving red or white wine.

Taittinger Champagne from France, Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine from Niagara, Roederer Sparkling wine from California and La Marca Prosecco from Italy are all terrific choices.

Your host can choose to open the bottle if you’ve brought it well-chilled or save it for a future occasion.

Financial Planner: You appreciate how her conservative investments protected your portfolio during the recession. And now that the economy is strong, 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. In other words, a strong price: quality ratio (P/E multiple) she’ll appreciate.

Try Chateau Timberlay Bordeaux Superior, an over-performer especially for the 2015 vintage which is on the shelves now. Great structure and balance, just like your portfolio. Pair with: crab cakes, roast chicken and cashing in your Google stock.

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.

Try Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc from 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.)

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from vineyards throughout the Marlborough region, including the Rarangi vineyard, just south of Monkey Bay. 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.

Hairdresser: Now here’s a person who has a great sense of humour (she laughs at your jokes when you’re in the chair), but she also takes styling your mop seriously. Give her 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.

Try Winzer Krems Gruner Veltliner from Austria. This vibrant white has zesty notes of tart Granny Smith apple, grapefruit and lime. It offers pure herbal refreshment, without any oak—and the well-defined crispness that your hairdresser likes in a good cut. Pair with seafood, salads and angel hair pasta.

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 one of the leading producers from one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world right now.

Try Alamos Malbec from Argentina, a terrific red with sumptuous dark fruit flavour and depth. French elegance balances the power and concentration of Argentine fruit. Full-bodied but not heavy. Finishes with a sweep of dark spices. Pair with: prime rib, rack of lamb and of course, dinner with your boss before your performance appraisal.

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. You can also give this wine to your Pilates instructor, yoga master or Tai Chi coach.

Try Carnivor Shiraz from Australia, a river of black cherry and blackberry flavour runs through the heart of this wine. There’s also a complex weave of dried herbs and cedar smoke on the finish. Full-bodied and robust. Pair with: game meats, cheddar cheese and grass-fed, free-range, organic beef with assorted omega-three rich vegetables.

Psychiatrist or Therapist or Bartender whomever’s giving you good advice lately: Of course, she’ll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that’s all about balance. Easy-drinking La Crema pinot noir from Sonoma County, which is medium-bodied yet packed with cherry-berry flavor.

Surprise her with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. This is 1.5 liters the equivalent of two regular sized bottles of wine. Big thinking means big progress for you. If it’s been a year of emotional break-throughs, then why not say that a magnum of Veuve Clicquot or Moet & Chandon Champagne. And nothing says let the party start right now than the visual splash of a big bottle. This wine also works well for psychologists and marriage counselors.

Online Date: So you’re on your second or third rendezvous with the person you met on one of those dating sites or apps. If you’re not sure yet whether marriage is a possibility, try something not too strong, but smooth and still full of character, a well-known name brand wine, like cabernet or chardonnay. Yes, they’re somewhat the soft jazz of wine, but until you know for sure, play it safe. Be smooth, be cool.

Try Benziger Cabernet from California is a robust, deeply delicious classic red wine with aromas of fleshy ripe dark plums and berries with a hint of campfire smoke, and your next date together. Or try Louis Martini Chardonnay, also from California, a lovely, voluptuous white wine with aromas of Asian pear, peach and dried apricot. Creamy, but not too oaky. You see where I’m going with those wine descriptions, don’t you?

Then there’s the person who delivers your mail or newspapers: When it’s absolutely, positively got to get there every morning, go for a wine that can be enjoyed in the snow, rain, sleet or heat.

A wine that’s consistent year after year because it hails from ( pun intended) from a warm climate. Try the southern Italian red wine Cusamano Nero D’Avola from the island of Sicily, with its layers of smooth, dark fruit pleasure and gratitude.

Mechanic: Yes, there’s a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not Ferrari Sparkling wine from Italy or Stave and Steel, a robust California Cabernet Sauvignon aged in bourbon barrels that once held Kentucky whiskey. It’s a dark, brooding kind of wine with a seductive toffeed edge.

Now you’ve shopped for everyone else, don’t forget yourself! A fortified wine like Fonseca Port is just the thing to sip as you’re watching the seventh re-run of equally sweet Miracle on 34th Street or listening to sappy Christmas songs. The extra alcohol in port is also ideal when navigating for holiday gatherings. Icewine from Niagara’s Reif or Strewn wineries are also a great accompaniment to off-key caroling and those sugar plums dancing in your head.

Well, there you have it! You’ll find links to the wines I mention and the link so that you can signup for my free wine class in the show notes at

What was your favourite tip or quote from this episode? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in getting some ideas for holiday gift wines. My podcast is easy to find, whether you search Google on its name Unreserved Wine Talk, or on my name.

Finally, if you want to take your ability to pair wine and food to the next level, join me in a free online video class at

I can’t wait to share more wine stories with you next week.

Thank-you for taking the time to listen to this one. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a terrific, wine that you gifted to yourself as you watch The 5 Wine and Food Pairing Mistakes that can ruin your dinner and how to fix them forever and ever, the end!



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