The best part of spending your holiday budget on wine is that you can stick to it. There are delicious wines available in every price range and giving a $15 bottle to someone who last year you gave a $50 gift to is still a wonderful choice. Everyone who loves wine appreciates a thoughtful choice.
Add a Personal Note
Add a note that tells why you selected the bottle—the label made you laugh, you visited that country on your last vacation and wanted to share the memory with them, your favorite wine store said they would love it and more. Be thoughtful and original with the card that accompanies the wine. Never give wine without a card. The recipient will probably never remember that you gave it to them when they go to open it weeks or months later without one.
Try to find a wine gift bag that isn’t see through. It isn’t fun to get a present without the surprise of opening it, and yes, you take all the surprise out of a wine gift when someone doesn’t even have to open the bag to see what wine he or she has been given. You might even find that days later the wine is still in its see through sack. Many wine retailers now carry bags (I do hate the shiny mylar kind) so think to add the purchase of the bag into your holiday budget. Marshall’s, Ross, and other discounters now sell bags for gifts. For about $.99 you can pick up a nice selection, but Pier One and higher-end stationery stores really have beautiful ones for sale if you’re in the mood for a splurge. Also if it’s not too late, many internet sites have creative and unusual wine bags.
Keep It Cold, Only if Necessary
Unless you’re planning to open the wine immediately with the person that you are gifting it to, don’t chill the wine. It’s not necessary and it’s better that it’s the right temperature upon serving than slightly cold. If you’re doing a dual purpose gift/host asked you to bring champagne or white wine, then absolutely the wine must be chilled before arrival. I usually put it in a cooler or tote with an ice pack or frozen veggies to transport it at the perfect temperature.
Respect Wine Pairing
If the wine is going to be opened and served with a meal, try to know the food that will be on the menu so you can choose accordingly. For example, Chardonnay with Mexican food is not okay—these things do make a difference. If you have tried the wine previously, and loved it, don’t forget to include that in your note. If it’s come from you cellar (don’t laugh) it’s one of my favorite things to do is bring an aged bottle that I know would cost far more than I would spend today to a dear friend who I know will enjoy it. I also let them know that fact so they realize that the bottle has been aged.
Give Wine with Pride
Be proud of bringing a wine gift. I’ve seen people arrive at a party and almost throw the wine gift at the person who is to receive it. If there is a pile of gifts under a tree or on a buffet or table, add your wine gift to the lot. Whatever you do, don’t put your lovely wine gift onto the bar!
Buy by the Case
When shopping for wine, many stores will give you an additional discount if you purchase a case of wine. Yes, it might be too heavy for you to carry (you can ask them to carry it out to the car or split it into two six bottle boxes) but in this economy it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s always a good idea to pick up an extra bottle or two for those spontaneous invitations is always a good idea. And remember, don’t forget shopping without a list unless you want some leftover for yourself (or want to be short).
Use Olive Oil as a Backup
For the collector whose wine cellar is more valuable then the price of a new car—the best gift is olive oil. They are sure to appreciate a lovely bottle, even if it’s small, of an artisanal or unique style. It’s so much more thoughtful than spending money on a wine that might be dismissed or forgotten after it’s given.
To purchase wine from our store Wine Valet at Two Rodeo Drive wine-valet.com  And yes, all of our bottles come with a complimentary wine tote.