Image description: A single round, red sparkling Christmas tree ornament sits in the foreground of a warm, wooden floor.
In a time where many of us have more stuff than we need, giving the gift of wine, beer or spirits is a thoughtful and sustainable way to show gratitude this season.
That said, I can only imagine how daunting it must be for someone to walk into a wine shop and be confronted with so much variety. One could easily become overwhelmed by the options available to them and feel frustrated and completely unsure of where to begin in their search for that perfect wine. Should you ask the advice of the sales staff? Can you trust them? Do you pick up the most expensive bottle or the one with the most eye catching label?
If you are shopping in store, this year, more than ever, it is wise to come prepared so you don’t have to be in a closed space longer than necessary in order to limit close contact to help curb the spread of Covid 19.
Here are a few tips to help with your wine gift giving this year.
Have a price range in mind. This is especially helpful if you are getting advice and direction from the wine shop sales person as it helps the sales person narrow down really great bottles in your budget.
Do a little bit of research ahead of time. This helps make the gift more personal. Does the recipient enjoy all wines and wine styles, are they up to trying anything new. Have you only seen them drinking red wines? If so, try to stay within their preferred style. Asking the sales person for a “good bottle” is like asking someone to put on good music or define good art. Being able to provide some criteria is incredibly helpful so the salesperson can find the right wine for you. Taste is a very personal matter!
Is the gift for a wine collector? Do they have a cellar and enjoy perfectly aged wines? If so, they’ll love premium Bordeaux, white or red Burgundy, classic Italian reds like Barolo or Barbaresco.
Are you buying for a sommelier or a self proclaimed wine geek?
Most somms love the classic wine growing regions, but look for wines made from smaller producers, terroir driven wines with personality. Indigenous regional grapes that are less common. Exclusive, small order wines always excite these types. Look for biodynamic, natural, wild yeast fermented wines to excite the wine geek on your list.
Are you buying for a chef or a foodie?
People who love and appreciate food and flavours also appreciate the synergy of food and wine pairing. Some wines are fine on their own, easy to sip or glug without eating anything. Other wines are improved by having them with food (they just taste more in balance), while there are those rare moments where wine and food harmonize to such perfection that you would think the two were made for each other. Foodies tend to gravitate towards old world wines and wines high acidity levels, the acid of a wine comes across as being more toned down when paired with food. Wines made from Riesling, Cabernet Franc or Sangiovese and the peppery flavours of a Rhone Syrah or an elegant Tempranillo always have a place at the table.
A lover of all things local
This year, more than ever, I think Nova Scotians want to support local businesses to see our economy through this challenging time and I think anyone would be grateful to receive a locally produced wine right now. Nova Scotia makes a lot of wine styles, so you can easily please most palates by shopping local. On the sparkling front, where we really dazzle, you can find everything from off dry, playful and easy drinking bubblies to more serious styles more similar to Champagne (but half the price!).
The volume or value drinker
Does your person love wine, but typically buys a larger format value priced wine? We have wines like that too! You can stay in that realm or gift them a wine that is similar in style, but a little more special. Sometimes, we just don’t treat ourselves or see the value in spending money on certain things for various personal reasons. Just because one tends to purchase value priced wines, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a more special wine as a gift!
For the person who only drinks Pinot Grigio
Well, you’re in luck, because Bishop’s Cellar has a lot of PInot Grigio. But, we also have a lot of wines that are similar in style to Pinot Grigio, but not Pinot Grigio. There are many crisp Italian white wines to choose from. Poor Trebbiano and Pecorino are feeling left out here, spread the love around and introduce someone to a new grape!
For those you’ve overheard say “anything but Chardonnay!”
Okay, I won’t try to convince you that Chardonnay is a wonderful grape that makes delicious wines. I think most people who say they don’t like Chardonnay have had a few bad experiences with the bad ones. Seeing as so much Chardonnay produced, its inevitable to come across plonk, there are poorly made, cheap, oak chip laden, vanilla flavoured, flabby versions. Yet arguably some of the world’s best wines are made from Chardonnay. That said, if your recipient doesn’t like Chardonnay, I am not here to convert them. There are many other wonderful white wines to satisfy their tastes. Often times the ABCers like crisp unoaked white wines and usually go for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Italian Pinot Grigio.
They only drink red wines
Well, you’ve narrowed that now. Oftentimes, those who only drink red wines do so because they love the intensity and structure of a red. They usually like a fuller bodied red like a SuperTuscan, Amarone, Aussie Shiraz, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a Rioja Reserva.
Finally, don’t snub the spirits. There are so many delicious options for both local and international spirits, from iconic brands to small craft producers. Bonus about giving the gift of a spirit is that they last longer than a bottle of wine, so in a way they are a gift that keeps on giving!
Cheers and Happy Holidays!