Last night I was lucky enough to be gifted a few bottles of wine. As I generally make my wine likes and dislikes abundantly clear (yes, I'm quite opinionated), I received a great selection. I have to give my boyfriend props for knowing the intricacies of my palate - a Chilean Malbec, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a Saint Emilion, and a wine we drank on a trip to Central America that brings back memories. When I visit my parents house, they often bring out wines they know I like to drink with Mom's home-cooked dinners - New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, Oregon Pinot Noir...
So yes, these people know me. And I know their palates. But then I realized, if tasked to bring a bottle of wine as a gift, do I know anyone palates enough to get what they like or am I just perusing based on my own likes?
Recently, I had to buy a bottle of white wine for a couple that was coming over for drinks before dinner. I've seen them drink beer - I've seen them drink martinis - I've seen them drink wine at a bar (which is really no help - see my blog on Bar Wine.) I was stuck. I guess I don't pay attention very well. I squinted my eyes as hard as I could and pursed my lips hoping that this would bring me some good ideas, but alas, it just gave me a headache. With nothing gained, I ended up choosing a Gruner Vetliner that I knew would be to my liking - and would probably be easy drinking for someone who doesn't really drink a whole lot of wine.
As we all sat and drank later that evening, I saw her face contort as she swallowed. She exclaimed "I like sweeter wines, but this is nice too!" What a good friend. Trying to make me feel better. But I was saddened that I didn't know what she liked, especially since I think about wine so often, I should be paying more attention - which is a new goal of mine.
Do you know anything about your friends' palates? Could you gift the perfect bottle of wine? I know I could for like, two people!
The Gift of Wine
- Reply by Philip James, Mar 3, 2008.
I tend to give very neutral wines as gifts. I can do something more personal for a few friends, but by the time you're tracking "he likes amarone", "she dislikes oak" and "they like big brands" you've reached brain overload.
- Blog comment by Clint, Mar 3, 2008.
Just give them all slop, and if they complain take it back. Or give them something so inordinately expensive that they would never dare say a bad word about you.
On a more helpful note, it depends on the price range your going for, but I feel like there are a couple of $20+/- wines that, with the exception of folks with incredibly refined palettes, nearly everyone enjoys. A really simple but crisp Pinot Grigio (like this one) is always a hit, or a slightly sweeter bottle of something like Falanghina is generally a winner with most women (sexist, but true).
On the red side it's a lot tougher, but when in doubt I think most people can stomach if not enjoy a simple Merlot - even the cheapies like the Blackstone aren't half bad and make a decent gift for someone you don't know too well.
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, Mar 3, 2008.
Ha. My coping mechanism is simply to buy two wines. Or stock a six of good beer as a fall back. Hey, more wine for the others.
I think it also helps to play off of the food should food be around. And I'll agree with Clint -- some grapes like Chardonnay and Merlot are hard for most folks to dislike.
- Reply by razmaspaz, Mar 4, 2008.
"I like sweet wine" always bugs me. Especially when it comes from a beer and martini drinker. Beer isn't fruity, martinis aren't fruity, so they obviously like savory drinks. What they mean to say is I'm accustomed to sweet wine.
You can either take the hard road and convince them to broaden their horizons and adjust their perception of wine, or you can give them a bottle of Dancing Bull Zin and be done with it. I prefer the hard road as it can lead to new wine friends, and that is always a good thing, but then again I can be a bit stubborn.
- Reply by Kirstin, Mar 4, 2008.
I just try to go for a food friendly wine or match the gift wine to food I know the person likes. Other than that, its pretty hard.