How to Pick the Right Wine for A Hostess Gift
Stress no more over that perfect bottle.
It seems the simplest of gestures, but it elicits such anxiety for the well-intentioned gift giver.
What is an appropriate wine to gift? How much money should be spent on a bottle? Should you expect the host to open it or save it for another time?
All very good questions and ones we are asked regularly from clients.
Who is the Recipient?
First of all consider the hostess: is this your BFF or your partner's boss? How formal or serious is this occasion? Clearly, a Friday night gab fest with your besties has a different vibe than a holiday dinner at your boss's house.
Since you likely don't need help for your casual evenings with your nearest and dearest, for the rest of this article we will assume this is a gift that needs to impress – at least a little.
Spend Somewhere Between $25-$75
Starting with price, we generally think that somewhere in the $25 - $75 range is a good amount to spend on a gifting bottle. Too little makes you look cheap and too much borders on awkward. Basically, we consider what we would spend on a meal if we were going to a restaurant and use that as a guide.
Don't Sweat the Pairing
Do not worry about bringing something that goes with the meal. Technically speaking, the hostess has no obligation to open your bottle that night. Presumably, she (or he) has planned out the menu and put some thought into pairing the wines, so she or he has every right to put your bottle into the cellar for a later occasion (after graciously thanking you, of course).
Now, if the party boss thrower does decide to throw caution to the wind and open your bottle with dinner hopefully you brought something halfway decent. Wines with higher acid, and low to moderate tannins are good bets for decent dinner pairing.
- Pinot Noir
- Brut Champagne or traditional method sparkling wine
Pick a Known Favourite
You don't need to reinvent the wheel, searching to the ends of the earth for a rare bottle no one has heard of. In fact, you absolutely should not do that.
We recommend either bringing their favourite bottle (or a reasonable facsimile), or ours.
There are pros and cons to both, so knowing your recipient is key. The former option won't inspire any wows, but it will be appreciated and not re-gifted, so points there. The latter option could be a fun surprise that introduces them to something they love ... Or something they hate. So, there's that.
If we're meeting someone for the first time, or someone we don't know very well, we do our best to get in a little reconnaissance before hand (nothing creepy – simply perusing the host's Facebook profile will suffice). Maybe they're proud of their Italian heritage, or have a zillion pictures of Prosecco, or perhaps they're known for their mad BBQ skillz. That will lead us to give them a nice Chianti, fruity bubbly, or hearty red that will likely hit the mark.
If we're going to someone's house who we know reasonably well, we may take a gamble with a bottle we've really enjoyed recently (still taking into consideration the hostess' basic preferences – there's no point bringing a bold red to someone who is a staunch white-wine-only kind of a gal).
If we have a bottle of something we love, we'll bring that as gift hoping they're going to like it too, and be excited we just introduced them to something new. We might even include a little card to explain the story of the wine and maybe include ideas for food pairings.
Champagne to the Rescue
And lastly, if you really don't have the time or energy to figure out a decent bottle to bring, Champagne is always your best bet. It's festive, fancy, and is always appreciated.
Remember – It is the Thought that Counts.
You don't need to sweat the details of giving a bottle of wine, but a small amount of consideration can win you a second invite. Whether or not you want it, is another story.