Giving your friend or relative some wine during the holidays seems like a great idea. But how do you decide what wine the recipient would like? You might choose a robust red only to find that he or she prefers sweet white wine.
Chances are you do know if Uncle Joe is a meat and potatoes man or if Cousin Millie is really into Thai food. So pick a wine that pairs well with steak or pad Thai.
"I would suggest a big, bold dusty Cabernet Sauvignon, one with very fine acidity, for a meat and potatoes man," says Fred Jennings, co-owner of Corks Wine Bar & Bottle Shoppe in Medford. A local wine he'd recommend is the 2005 Evans Creek Cabernet from Trium.
"Steaks love an earthy Malbec from South America," suggests Victoria Guantonio, co-owner of the Pacific Wine Club in Medford.
"Thai food begs for a Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Rosé," says Jennings. Rosé works well with people who don't like whites or reds because it's pink. One Southern Oregon candidate he singles out is the new Rosé of Tempranillo from RoxyAnn Winery of Medford.
"Spicy food lovers will love a wine to tame the heat," says Guantonio. "An off-dry Riesling will pair with fiery foods as the sweetness tones the heat and allows flavors to surface."
"Italian food lovers will enjoy a Barbera," she continues, "as the taste profile is fruity, tannins low and high acid to complement almost anything from pasta to mushroom risotto."
And if chicken Marsala is your gift recipient's favorite, Jennings suggests a Viognier. "There are several in the area that are very nice. RoxyAnn Winery, Folin Cellars and Spangler Vineyards are just three of the many choices."
If he or she is a seafood lover, Jennings would recommend a Chardonnay like one from Schmidt Family Vineyards and LongSword Vineyard of the Applegate Valley, or a Pinot Noir. "The Agate Ridge Pinot Noir (from Eagle Point) would be perfect or the LongSword Dolcetto would also be a choice to please."
"For the entertainer, a sparkling wine will be a welcome gift," says Guantonio. "The pop of a cork is fun and festive and the price range is wide. Look to a Spanish Cava for values and French Champagne for that special one on your list."
Pairing wine with the food your recipient likes is important, but it's only one of several "P's" that Liz Wan of Troon Vineyard would suggest gift givers take into account. The others include Pretty, Price and Palate, says Wan, a member of "Team Troon" as the staff is called at this Applegate Valley winery.
Pretty? Don't buy a wine solely because you like the label, says Wan. But on the other hand, an ugly label is a turnoff. Try to find a wine that fits your other criteria and also looks good.
Price? "There are a bazillion wines out there that are affordable and amazing," says Wan. "The most common myth in the wine industry is that good wine is expensive. While this may be true in some instances — it is not always the case." Guantonio agrees: "Suggestions are limitless and can cost from under $10 and up."
Palate? "What is it that your recipient likes to drink? It doesn't matter how much you love cabs if you have never seen the person whom you are buying for with anything other than pink wine in their glass," Wan explains.
And two "D's" on Wan's list:
- "Do not buy wine at a location that the recipient frequents unless you want them to know how much you paid."
- "Do your research. If you don't have time there are quite a few 'wine geeks' out there that would love to help "¦ no really."
"Make it special," adds Wan. "Something about that bottle of wine should be an inside secret between you and the recipient."
And in Guantonio's words, "Gifts are an extension of us, the gift givers... When you give wine you present an experience."