Wine is usually a welcome gift and you don't have to spend a lot to make a good impression
No matter where you go, wine is always a welcome gift. And it's easy. You don't have to rack your brain to come up something new. Not only that, you can add some cheese, crackers, nuts, biscotti, chocolates, or anything else that strikes your fancy, and you have a wonderful gift basket.
A lot of these gift baskets are already prepared in local wine stores. Some of them are good, and some of them are terrible. Before you grab a basket and run, make sure you're getting your money's worth. A lot of items are thrown in that people eventually throw out. If you're going to include cheese, get fresh cheese, and make sure it goes with the wine you're giving.
Aside from only red and white still wine, don't forget sparkling wine, Champagne, dessert wine, and Port. And you don't have to break the bank to get a nice bottle of any of those items. They cost about the same as a bottle of wine; which is whatever you decide to spend.
A nice thing about dessert wine and Port is that once opened they don't have be consumed that night. Dessert wine is fortified, and should be refrigerated after opening. The fortification and refrigeration adds to its shelf life once opened. Another bonus is that the recipient can have a small glass after dinner for a number of days, and every time they do, they think of you.
Same with Port. A little goes a long way. And there are plenty of Ports out there for $10 to $20 that are great. Vintage Port is the only Port that is best consumed within a couple of days of opening. But Ruby, Tawny, or Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) can be kept open for days or weeks and enjoyed as a treat after dinner. And again, the recipient will be thinking of you every time they have their little after dinner treat.
With Port look for the better producers readily available in any supermarket:
Warre & Co.
Quinta do noval
And don't forget sparkling wine and Champagne. Again, you don't have to spend a fortune. The difference between sparkling wine and Champagne is that Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, and sparkling wine comes from many regions of world. Generally speaking the best, and most expensive sparkling wine is Champagne, but you can find a great sparkling wine for $10 to $20. Every country that produces wine, produces sparkling wine, too. Italy has its famous spumante, which simply means "sparkling" and can be found at many different price points, including $5 and $6 dollars, and is a delightful drink. California produces some excellent sparkling wines. A few names are:
When you go wine gift shopping, keep an open mind, if you don't know the person's taste in wine, it is better to get either a sparkling wine, Champagne, Port or dessert wine, than to try and guess what kind of Chardonnay or Cabernet the person likes. Most people like a nice glass of Port now and then, no matter what their wine preference. And a glass bubbly is always welcome.
By Dennis Manuel