2. The best wine to buy when: you want to broaden their horizons
3. The best wine to buy when: you don’t know what they drink
In this scenario, you can turn to the age-old iconic region-and-variety pairings. Think Hunter Valley semillon, Mornington Peninsula pinot noir, or Margaret River chardonnay, to name a few. Choose one that feels right for this person and narrow it down to that region’s long-time excellent producers – the recipient will immediately recognise the wine’s significance. That doesn’t mean it has to be pricey, either – there is almost always an affordable option. Even if they wouldn’t usually choose this wine, there’s no doubting its quality, so they will appreciate it. If all else fails, they can proudly share it at another occasion with people who love that style.
4. The best wine to buy when: they consider themselves a wine geek
5. The best wine to buy when: you want to show them what you love
Wine can make such a great present, but it can be overwhelming trying to find the right bottle – especially if you've left it to the last minute. Specialist wine retailers will always point you in the right direction, but here are five ideas that will also have you navigating the options like an expert.
1. The best wine to buy when: you want them to love it
The solution is simple – stick to what they like. If you’ve only ever seen this person enjoy Barossa shiraz, then give them a Barossa shiraz. Whatever the region or style they prefer, if this person is single-minded when it comes to wine, play it safe and give them what they want. You can always get creative with the wine brand – there are so many iconic producers to choose from around the country, you’re spoilt for quality choice. Given that this person loves this style of wine, they'll know at a glance they’re receiving something great that's also to their taste.
If this person always orders the same type of wine and is hesitant to look beyond their usual selections, start small. If they love cabernet, for example, research the excellent leftfield cabernet-producing regions for an alternative expression. Coonawarra and Margaret River are obvious quality contenders, but there are so many other top options. Consider the underrated likes of McLaren Vale, Wrattonbully or the Yarra Valley – all unexpectedly stellar places for growing and making cabernet. If this person really loves this variety, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy your wine and you’ll get the glory for knowing your stuff.
It’s possible this self-confessed wine nerd will enjoy wines that stretch beyond your budget. One solution? Go international – there's so much value to be had. Consider France’s Beaujolais, Loire Valley or Languedoc for some surprisingly well-priced options. Italy’s Etna, Austria’s Burgenland and Spain’s Rioja are just some of the other excellent hunting grounds for top value, too. Talk to your retailer and let them guide you. Better still, if you know what this person likes to drink, you can usually find a comparable international style within your price range.
This one’s easy – you’re essentially buying a gift for yourself. It may be one of your go-to favourites or another wine you've recently discovered. Regardless, you get to share a wine with them that you love, and the story behind it. Tell them how you first tasted it while talking to the winemaker at their cellar door, or how this was the wine that finally converted you to that style. Explain your attachment to the wine and it will be hard for them to dislike it. The clincher is they are then highly likely to share it with you. Win-win.
This article first appeared in Halliday magazine. Become a member to receive six editions a year, plus digital access, and also unlock more than 150,000 tasting notes and other exclusive wine content.