Photo credit by Landysteve75
Wine is an excellent gift for someone settling into a new home. The wine you choose will depend on what you know about your friend's tastes, and on its intended use. Some questions you need to ask before buying:
- Does your friend have a preference? (Some people are red drinkers, some people never touch anything but white)
- Are they likely to drink the wine within a few months or, if not, do they have the knowledge and facilities to store wine properly?
- If you are likely to drink the wine together, what sort of weather will it be? Will food be served and, if so, what?
- Does your friend have wine glasses?
This last question may seem a little silly, but is actually important, particularly if you are buying a special wine. It is a shame to take a lovely Beaujolais and stick it in a champagne flute. If your friend doesn't have the appropriate wine glasses, consider including two glasses in the gift. A present of wine with glasses is a gift of an experience, and your friend will remember you every time they use the glasses.
If you have no idea what type of wine your friend prefers, you will have to follow your own preferences. There are too many different wines and too many areas to go into your options in depth here. As a general guide:
- California produces 90% of wine made in the US, and the area is known for full-bodied reds and oaky whites. The vintages from this area are not terribly subtle, but very drinkable. If you want a US-made wine that is a bit different, have a look around for one of the wines coming out of the colder states – Oregon, Washington and some states east of the Rockies have been producing some very fine wines.
- Canada produces some amazing wines (particularly ice wines) that are difficult to get hold of, due to export laws trying to protect the identity of Canadian wine overseas – so if you find one at an affordable price, give it a try.
- Australian wine has been really taking off in Europe recently, possibly because the complex and exuberant flavours are so different to European wine. Be aware that Australian wines often echo the personality of its citizens – easy to like, but also brash and loud.
- South African wine is still finding its feet in the world market, so only buy a bottle as a gift if you've tried that vintage before. The same goes for Chilean wine – while both countries can produce some excellent wines, the cost of exporting often means that less than the best is shipped overseas.
- French wines are usually subtle and a delight to the palate. This may seem unfair to other wine-producing countries, but it is true. It doesn't mean that every bottle of French wine you buy is going to be good, however, and away from Europe some truly dreadful French wines are sold.
- Italian wines are again like their citizens in nature – complex, full of personality with subtle flavours detectable.
- Spanish wines are slightly brash (although Spanish whites can be amazing in the subtle way they release their complex flavours).
For the best results when purchasing, narrow down the sort of wine you want to give, then read a few reviews before you to to the store. You will get a bit more information about the qualities of regions and vintages that will help you make your choice.
One last thing – if your friend has just purchased their home, consider getting something bubbly to help with the celebration. It doesn't matter whether it's real champagne or not – nothing says major achievement like a glass full of bubbles.