If you’re willing to part with a few extra dollars – and a few extra minutes – here’s how to make your recipient’s holiday extra special


Maybe you’re a last-minute Christmas shopper. Maybe you just forgot someone on your list. Maybe you found out your second cousin is getting divorced and will be joining you for Christmas dinner and you feel terrible to see her present-less around the tree.

Whatever the reason, you’re about to join the long and storied tradition of people who give alcohol for Christmas. Great!

But how do you pick out a wine that feels as special – or, if it’s your thing, as obviously pricey – to the recipient as a bottle of hard alcohol? Assuming that you’ll be willing to part with an extra $5 or $10 to make someone’s holiday really special, here are some tips for making that extra money you spend worth it for everyone.


Go to a specialty store or to the local store with the largest possible selection

If you can get to a boutique wine store or even a general liquor store that specializes in wine, their employees are likely to be better trained than at the average liquor store and be able to find you “a red for under $20 for someone who usually drinks pinot noir”. (Hint: try a gamay.) If there’s not one in your area, go to the biggest store you can find, as you’ll be more likely to find something special (and good) that the gift recipient won’t have seen before.

Avoid wines you recognize, because your giftee might, too

Nothing spoils the “specialness” of a wine gift as much as recognizing that it’s the $8 zinfandel that you local liquor store stocks upright in boxes by the door. If you know the recipient just love-love-loves Kendall Jackson chardonnay more than anything, ignore this advice; but, in general, you’ll want to walk a little further in and avoid the ubiquitous bottles.

Ask questions

Especially in a boutique or specialty store, you’re paying for the employees’ expertise. They may have tasted the wines, or have tasting notes available – which you can also use to sound like an expert yourself, when you give the wine. Or, since we live in the age of Google, look up a couple of choices on your phone, read the descriptions and try to figure out if it’s something you (or your giftee) would want to drink.

Take your time

I know it’s the holidays, but don’t grab and dash. Commit to spending 10-15 minutes looking at labels, perusing prices and asking questions before you decide. Being thoughtful takes time – and you don’t really know what you want to get if you don’t know what there is to choose from.

Know your intended recipient

A good rule of thumb is to never bring a white to a red drinker, or vice versa, but there’s more to knowing your audience than that. If your gift recipient is a dedicated drinker of wines in the $8-$12 range and never more, then picking out the perfect $75 wine isn’t going to have much more of an impact than a $25 bottle will (unless you leave the price tag on). Or, if the giftee regularly buys herself $25 bottles, you’re either really going to have to work to find that extra special one or pony up a little more money.

When in doubt, buy something weird

Canadian ice wine? Sure! A Greek xinomavro? Go for it! I had a really excellent Mexican petite sirah last month, I swear by Uruguayan tannats and my father-in-law loves a good Chilean carménère. But the best thing is that, unlike in the case of an Italian chianti or an American cabernet, only the most dedicated or adventurous wine drinkers are going to have an idea of what something off-the-beaten-path is “supposed” to taste like – and that will make it more special to your intended recipient.

[Source:-the gurdian]

By Adam