Richard Jennings' Wine Gift Guide

Top wine gifts as recommended by Richard Jennings


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Richard Jennings' Wine Gift Guide I’m a wine reviewer and geek who currently tastes and writes notes on over 7,000 wines per year. In scoring wines, I prize balance, minerality and lively acidity, along with complexity of aromas and flavors.

I love Burgundies, Champagne, German Rieslings, Northern Rhones, Italian wines, Jura wines, Spanish wines, Greek wines and even wine from my home state of California. Over the years, I’ve tasted enough in each region to find out for myself who the best producers are, and I can appreciate both traditional and modern styles when they’re done well. In other words, I seem to have the broadest palate of anyone I know.

When it comes to holiday gifting, I often do give wine as presents because I’m very familiar with what my friends like. And my friends know I will have tasted whatever I am giving them, so they can be guaranteed of getting a quality wine they will enjoy. Value is also important. Who doesn’t want to spend a little less on a gift that will taste like something that costs a lot more?

In selecting wines for my gift list, I’ve gone for the 10 categories of wines that will most appeal to the various types of palates out there. I’ve got Champagne for the sparkling lovers, a Cabernet and a Syrah for those who need their big reds, a 2010 Chablis for the Burgundy lovers, an Italian and a Pinot for my foodie friends, a nice Chardonnay for those who prefer whites, a Spanish wine for the more adventurous, a Rhone for the Rhone lovers, and a Port for those who like it sweet.

In each category, I’ve gone for a wine I’ve rated highly that also represents a good value, and that’s readily easy to find. I’d be happy to receive any of these myself as gifts, and I think that’s one of the most important criteria in gift giving—would I select this item for myself?

Wine image via Shutterstock

Mentioned in this article


  • Did Richard Jennings ever live in Roswell New Mexico?

    Dec 06, 2012 at 1:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
    Hand of Snooth
    780161 124,414

    Hi John. No, I never had the pleasure of living in Roswell.

    Dec 06, 2012 at 1:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Russ Beebe
    1100415 1

    An outstanding lineup, Richard - most especially in the way you presented it as gifts you would enjoy receiving yourself. A very practical (and delicious) viewpoint!

    Dec 06, 2012 at 3:55 PM

  • Snooth User: PFBG
    454785 1

    The picture shows a Rosso not a Brunello. Altough you can have very good Rossos, they don't compare to the simplest Brunello. Don't you agree?

    Dec 06, 2012 at 5:55 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
    Hand of Snooth
    780161 124,414

    Russ, thank you for the kind words. I always try to select gifts for people that I would be happy to receive myself, and that philosophy has served me well.

    I totally agree that it would be the very rare Rosso that would hold a candle to most Brunellos, but there are also some lousy Brunellos out there, so we'd have to make rare exceptions. Good catch though.

    Dec 06, 2012 at 6:26 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,084

    I have always gave the RAMOS PINTO 20 yr. tawny for gifts. Is the Taylor Fladgate just as good?

    Dec 09, 2012 at 8:52 AM

  • How about a muscat?

    Dec 09, 2012 at 11:34 PM

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