Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift buying ideas for wine lovers

We're all wine lovers here. I've written the "wine gift guide" story for mainstream newspapers, and that requires a lot more explanation. But you and me, let's cut to the chase.

Here are some gift ideas for different types of people.

Gifts for casual/Two-Buck Chuck drinkers
Don't try to blow them away with their first great bottle of Burgundy. They might not open it, and if they do, they're not likely to like it, unless you're there to explain why savory flavors are a good thing.

I like to give bubbly for Christmas to people at all levels of wine appreciation, but especially to novices. I want to give gifts people will open and use, and next week everybody's going to open bubbly. If you don't help them out with something tasty, they're going to buy the cheapest sparkling plonk and reinforce their idea that bubbly is something that gives you a headache but you're forced to drink it on formal occasions.

Don't spend too much, or they'll save it for their 10th anniversary. I like to spend under $20 AND tell them that's what I spent. A few wines I like in this price range: Gruet Blanc de Noirs, Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut, Scharffenberger Brut, Roederer Brut.

Gifts for everyday wine drinkers whose taste you don't share (or approve of)

Your aunt likes sweet, buttery Chardonnay, or super-ripe Cab. Or your niece likes underripe "weird wines." And you don't. What to do?

Get them something other than wine. Buying them what they drink all the time isn't interesting. But take it from an occasional pedant: People know when they're being preached to by a gift. The time to try to nudge their taste is in person.

Everybody who drinks wine can always use wine glasses. Pick up a 6-pack of decent ones at Cost Plus World Market.

Or, give them a nice junmai ginjo sake. Few wine lovers think to buy sake for home consumption but most are happy to have it. I'm a fan of Dewazakura Dewasansan, fruity with plenty of green apple character, or Miyazaka Yamahai, more expensive but complex and interesting. Expect to spend at least $25 for a good bottle.

Gifts for wine lovers like you

You'd think this would be the easiest category to buy for, but I find it the hardest. What's special to somebody who has special wines all the time?

You can't beat a local connection. I like to give local jams or chocolates or other food products; why not wine? If you live in Oakland, give Dashe Zinfandel or Donkey and Goat Chardonnay. In Napa Valley, get some small-production Mourvedre you're personally curious about. And if you live in Virginia or Texas or any other good wine-producing state, support Tarara or McPherson or whoever you think is your best local winery. You don't know that? Time to give yourself a gift.

Old wines, not as easy to acquire, are a great gift. It might not be too late to get some vintage Madeira from Rare Wine Co. People also don't think of giving something out of our own cellars. If you have a case of '89 Chablis, wrap up a couple bottles for friends who'd appreciate it.

I like to give booze to wine lovers because it lasts longer. Glenmorangie Scotch is lately a go-to for me, or maybe Cardenal Mendoza brandy. But local is always best: St. George Spirits absinthe in the Bay Area, or Hudson Rye in New York, or High West Silver Whiskey if you're in Utah.

A gift for me

You know what I want from you for Christmas?

You know how people sometimes give donations to charity in a friend's name? If you want to make my Christmas, please go comment on some other writer's blog about what a good story he/she wrote and post a link here, or send it to me, so I can share the smile. In this stressful season, let's stand out among the trolls by spreading a little good cheer.

To all of you who have given me these kinds of comments this year, thanks so much. You're why I do this. I hope you have a great holiday season.

Follow me on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook.


Anonymous said...

I love your suggestions... especially about what to get the palates so very different from our own. Never thought about gifting Sake, but it would be unexpected and much appreciated. Great Idea! Love!

Evan Dawson said...

Blake - Wonderful stuff. I've come to find your writing essential, and that's not an adjective I use often. Cheers from a regular reader.

W. Blake Gray said...

Evan: Dude, you were supposed to praise some other writer! But wow, what a great present, I think I actually blushed. Thank you.

rob renteria said...

Blake, you suck. Just kidding. Great suggestions. And I must say: The post about how you sympathized with Jay Miller about not having a job and the new found irrelevance, brilliant. I can totally relate.
Best of the holiday season to you.


dapz said...

You are a very gifted writer. I love your blog. I also agree with you most of the time. Sometimes you bring up something I had not thought of and I learn something new.
Thank you and I wish you all the best

W. Blake Gray said...

Rob, Dapz, you are too kind. But thank you.