Are you planning to gift a bottle of wine to a loved one or bring one for a dinner party after Phase Two: Heightened Alert ends? Make everyone happy, including your wallet by avoiding these common wine gifting mistakes.
Gifting wine is almost always a good move. Gifting the right bottle of wine is a better one. When navigating the aisles of your local wine retailer or perusing online stores, you will probably find yourself a little overwhelmed by choices — particularly if you are new to this. Even if this isn’t your first bottle, the learning curve is steep.
To help you along, here are a few mistakes to avoid while shopping for wine as a gift.
1. Expensive Brands and Fancy Bottles.
A common mistake is to shop by brand or by how fancy the bottle looks. For starters, you pay a premium for a brand; wine is no exception. Also, the fancier the bottle doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the wine. Expect to be bombarded with marketing tactics to attract your attention.
Instead, look to find over-performing wine at their price point. So how do we do that? You can start by looking at regions rather than brands.
With a little bit of research, you often find great-tasting wine in less fashionable regions. For example, you can certainly purchase an expensive and quality bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. However, you might also find great value and quality in lesser-known regions worldwide producing Cabernets or blends with similar profiles like Cachapoal Valley, Chile or Vinos De Madrid, Spain.
Pro tip: If you memorise a fun fact about that region, you can up-sell your gift to give that personal touch.
2. Price Shopping.
Many of us have been guilty of price shopping, so we can give you a pass for making this mistake once or twice. Generally, the higher price point does suggest higher quality, but that isn’t always the case. There is a lot more that goes into the price of wine than the actual wine itself. The labour, shipping, bottle, tax levies, marketing, and margin are just a few of the costs that we often neglect when shopping.
Usually, price shopping on a set budget will only get you as far as what first catches your eye. You may be missing out on finding a better quality wine at the top of your price point by simply going for the most expensive.
3. Not Considering What’s on the Menu.
You are likely reading this just before a dinner party where a bottle of wine seems appropriate. If this is the case, it goes a long way to find a good pairing before purchasing a bottle. A quick search for wine profiles that complement a meal will make your gift shine. Check out this food and wine pairing chart the next time you buy wine as a gift.
Be prepared to receive bonus points If you can explain the pairing to your friends. If you don’t know what’s on the menu, consider bringing a dessert wine, crisp white, or sparkling wine that will likely win anyone over.
4. What’s the Occasion?
This mistake goes hand in hand with failing to consider what’s on the menu. Without considering the occasion, you could miss out on guessing what’s for dinner. Or worse yet, the occasion may not call for a bottle of wine in the first place. So take a quick second to consider where and why you are celebrating.
An anniversary might call for something different than a casual night with friends. A night under the stars might call for a warm red, while a sparkling wine might win you a few friends at a party full of strangers.
5. Failing To Do a Quick Online Search.
Avoiding the mistakes above has now armed you with some extra information to do some online digging. Take out your phone while looking at the bottle and check for reviews and flavour profiles. Scan some blogs to see if lesser-known regions offered at your local store had a good year. Don’t be surprised if you do this and end up buying a completely different bottle — that’s the point.
Finding value in a bottle of wine isn’t the primary goal of a gift. But in the search for the right bottle, why not find it at the right price?
Stephen Lee is a Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion, specializing in insurance. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the University of Washington, and his prior work experience include risk management and underwriting for professional liability and specialty insurance at Victor Insurance. Additionally, Stephen is a former US Peace Corps Volunteer in Myanmar (serving between 2018-2020), where he continues to provide business development consulting services to HR companies in Asia Pacific.