With Father’s day just around the corner we’re coming back to one of the questions we are asked most. I know what I like, so that’s fine, but how do I buy wine as a gift for someone else?
Find their flavour
If you know what they drink already it’s nice to be able to buy them something similar but not exactly the same. Wine shops are good at helping you to do this but if you want to do it yourself you can use the WineTubeMap.
Find a station you know they like and then go to the next station or a couple of stations along on the same line. By doing this you are simultaneously staying safe by keeping to similar flavours and being adventurousness by not buying the exact wine you know they like.
You might just find them a new favourite.
Here are some winning combos
For Malbec Lovers => Ribera del Duero
For Rioja lovers => Douro
For Sauvignon Lovers => Albarino
For prosecco lovers => Demi sec champagne / Semi Seco Cava
For big chardonnay lovers => Big chenin blancs
For champagne lovers => English sparkling
Find their style
Flavour isn’t the only consideration in what we like about wine, we buy with our eyes too which means the label is very important. When you’re buying a gift, it’s nice to give something that appeals even before it has made into a glass. It sets the tone and shows you care. Like books, the labels can give us a hint to the style of wine in the bottle. Just check out what’s already in their wine rack or look up their favourite, if you know its name.
Wines tend to follow into the following categories :
Chateaux, vineyard, grapes, pencil drawings, muted colours.
These wines tend to be a more traditional style. This means they can taste less ‘fruity’ with more acidity or tannins. They shine with food.
Abstract, bold lines and colours. Often no reference to wine.
These wines are often good, bold and high quality, particularly at the quality end (above £10).
Less grapes and chateaux but still very classic and simple styling with the producer name centrally.
These wines are still quite traditional but often have an easier-drinking style so could be with or without food.
Animals, play on words and maybe a cartoon…
These wines are often the most easy-drinking styles, easy on the eye and the palate! Generally not for the serious wine drinker.
Where to buy
Local and independent wine shops
Like the local butcher these guys know their stuff. They SHOULD be able to help you find the right wine, tell you a bit about it and wrap it up for you. Don’t feel daunted by the wall of wine, just go and find someone, tell them your budget and let them find you some options. You can then do the important bit of picking the bottle with the best ‘look’. I’d include Oddbins in this category.
There’s still (just) time to buy something on line. The following people all sell wine by the bottle online, although you do generally pay more postage for one than 6 or 12 so if you need to stock up your wine rack now’s a good time…
Roberson Wine – these guys have a fantastic line up of really interesting wines, which haven’t missed a beat yet for me. Lovely stuff from around the world. You can add wooden wine boxes to your order to make them feel a bit more special.
Berry Bros and Rudd – a more ‘traditional’ wine merchant with a great selection online all available by the bottle.
Yapp Brothers – a cross between Roberson and Berry Bros, a French slant on wine ranging from rustic to very classy. Great prices and a really warm feeling to what they do.
Wine chains and supermarkets
Majestic and co tend to have good people on hand to help you out, which is necessary when you walk into their warehouses and see the wall of wine! They now allow you to buy single bottles.
Most of the supermarkets have good wines hidden amongst the deals and the heavily branded wines. They are harder to find and the staff are often less well informed. On the basis of what I tasted recently I’d go to Waitrose, M&S, Morrisons or Co-op and steer clear of the well-known brands in place of their more individual wines. Spend more than £10 and you’ll probably be fine. We’ll be posting recommendations of all of the supermarket wines in the next few weeks.