If you are ever in doubt about which gift to take to a dinner party, birthday or Christmas dinner with your girlfriend/boyfriend’s parents, go with wine.
It is a safe gift with little risk of giving someone something they don’t want or offending your party hosts.
Red wine is an especially great choice. Many people love it and there’s a wide variety (and prices) to choose from.
So whether you are looking for a premium exotic bottle such as the Château Pétrus 2005 Pomerol or something more basic like a Shiraz, you won’t run out of options.
Choosing the Best Red Wine for a Gift
While selecting a bottle of red wine is easier than picking out something like perfume or watch (in my opinion at least), you still need to choose carefully.
Even a safe gift like a bottle of wine can end in awkward feelings if your host feels insulted by your selection or they don’t like it.
Here’s what to consider when deciding which type of red wine to go with.
1. The Occasion
The type of event you are going to will determine what kind of red wine you get.
If it is a friend’s party, get something cheap and well known. This is not the time to wow the host with an exotic blend they’ve never heard off.
Just get something people everyone will drink and enjoy. Some good choices include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Sangiovese.
For a more formal event such as a quiet dinner party or a wedding (have a look at our gift ideas for bridesmaids), look for something a bit more exquisite.
How exquisite? That depends on your budget.
A 2013 bottle of La Joie costs about £315 while a bottle of Chateau Petrus Pomerol can cost you several thousand pounds.
The aim is to make sure the recipient feels treasured. A cheap bottle of wine is more likely to insult them.
I’d also recommend premium red wine if you are gifting someone for a new job, an engagement or something special they have achieved.
It doesn’t have to be too expensive; just luxurious enough that it feels like a proper gift and not a last second face-saving idea.
2. The Recipient
Don’t blindly buy a bottle of red wine and hope that the recipient will like it. The wine is not yours. So no matter how much you love Gamay wine, not everyone will be a fan.
You probably already have an idea where they stand when it comes to wine. Are they the kind of people who’ll drink any wine that tastes good or are they connoisseurs with very particular tastes?
If you are gifting someone who knows their wine, be extra careful about which wine you pick. Find out their favourite wines and get something similar or close.
If they often drink cheaper wines, that doesn’t mean you get a similar cheap bottle. It could be they don’t have the budget for something more expensive.
Look for a pricier selection that closely matches their favourite wine in taste.
If the recipient happens to be a collector, feel free to hunt down unique and unknown wines. They’ll appreciate getting something new to add to their collection.
3. Nature of Event
Consider how the occasion is being celebrated, where it’s being held and what kind of food will be cooked.
You want your wine to match the feel and mood of the event because it is likely the host will serve some of it to other guests.
This list by BBC Good Food provides a nice reference for which red wines to get for specific occasions and dishes.
A Pinot Noir is the classic choice for a Christmas party where some roast lamb or turkey is being served. A Pinotage or Gamay has a more party feel that goes great with beach parties and backyard barbeques.
For dinner parties where roast meat is likely on the menu, you can’t go wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Taking someone out for a picnic? A Shiraz goes great with the rustic outdoors.
And by the way, don’t overlook boxed red wines especially for many of these informal events like barbeques, picnics and 80th birthday parties.
Whichever wine you choose, don’t sweat your decision too much. If they don’t like it, there will certainly be someone around who does. Wine rarely goes to waste.