How to Pick the Right Wine for A Hostess Gift

wine bottle on it's side, beside a box wrapped with brown ribbon and surrounded by flower petals

Stress no more over that perfect bottle.

by Erin

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. 

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.


(This blog was first published in 2016, and has been updated for today.)

Hear From Real People!

The Wine Sisters are professional and flexible to attend to client needs. They’re able to provide 'one stop shop for events.
Bravo! You were awesome and I loved the presentation, explanation and selection of wines! I just had to reach out and thank you for a wonderful evening. You two are fabulous – great energy and you really like what you do.  You make tasting wine fun!
The event was a huge success! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the group was quite engaged. The wine was also delicious! Thank you so much! I hope we can work together on another event in the future!
I’m really pleased with how the event went. Everyone feels really happy with your incredible hosting skills and experience. We all DEFINITELY want to use The Wine Sisters again! Thank you so much!!
I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
Erin did a fantastic job with our group. We all really enjoyed the day. I have already recommended The Wine Sisters for my company events, as it was such a great experience for us.
The unique programs and the tour we did with you was a huge success. Guests really enjoyed the afternoon!
Great energy, sense of humour and very knowledgeable! Thank you for making it an afternoon to remember!
You were great and hilarious, and made everyone feel comfortable. Appreciate your time with me and helping pull this event together.
Thank you very much for the amazing wine tasting. We all had the most wonderful time. The wines were excellent and your presentation was very entertaining and informative.

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