Skip to main content
good taste
Open this photo in gallery:

When selecting a bottle of wine to give as a gift, don't pick the bottle with the best label. Do a little research to select the perfect vintage for the occasion and recipient.gilaxia/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Bringing a bottle of wine is often a go-to option for housewarmings, parties or holiday gatherings, but it’s not always as simple as snatching up the bottle with the fanciest label or the highest score from critics.

Doing some research, such as determining which colour or style would be appreciated, is a better starting point to ensuring your gift is well-received. In most instances, one carefully-chosen quality wine should suffice, however, there might be instances or occasions where you might want to package up an assortment, maybe selecting different bottles of favourite grape variety from wineries in different parts of the world or choosing a mixed case to give to newlyweds so they can carve out a special night each month leading up to their first anniversary. Here are some suggestions to guide your picks.

Consider the recipient: How can you make the gift more personal? If you know their taste preferences or a favourite winery or wine region, use that for motivation. If you know they only drink pinot grigio, selecting a red wine from your favourite Bordeaux château doesn’t seem the most appropriate selection for them. You’re better off asking a sales associate at the liquor store to suggest another crisp and refreshing Italian white wine that offers a similar flavour profile. Adding a card explaining why you selected that bottle is always a gracious move.

The safe bet: Sparkling wine, notably Champagne, is a solid option. Always seen as a festive choice, sparkling wines are opened and enjoyed whereas other “special” bottles, such as Icewine risk going onto a wine rack in wait for the right occasion that never seems to come.

For the wine geek: If you’re shopping for a wine collector and are worried about potential miscues, consider an alternative. Select a quality extra-virgin olive oil if they love to cook or a bottle of gin from a craft producer – many wine lovers I know also enjoy their negronis and gin and tonics. Another option is a book on wine. The Academie du Vin library features updated versions of classics like The Life and Wines of Hugh Johnson and Oz Clarke on Wine as well as new releases such as wine merchant Ben Howkin’s memoirs, Adventures in the Wine Trade, which are sure to speak to their passion.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe