Friday, September 26, 2014

The Most Sophisticated, Versatile of Gift Ideas? Wine It Is!

Today, I'm sharing a guest post that offers helpful information about gift-giving for wine lovers. With the holidays right around the corner, this handy gift guide will help you discover unique ideas for the wine lovers on your shopping list! 

"In vino verities," goes the famous Latin proverb – and the truth in wine will definitely reveal just how much thought and time you invested into choosing an appropriate oenological gift for the people in your life with an appreciation for viticulture and its aromatic products. The good news is that wine gifts are an endlessly creative category, and -- while certainly limited by budget and local availability -- a unique, tailor-made gift can be curated with good planning and strategic wine shop research. Depending on the occasion, a single bottle of the right wine can be a gift on its own. Be sure to do your homework, and make the recipient feel special by telling them the story behind the particular wine you selected. The eventual tasting will be immensely more appreciated once everyone involved knows how special or exclusive that precious liquid is.

A nice recommendation would be to think outside of the wine box, and look for importers and distributors of the more exotic wine regions. You'll definitely impress a wine-loving friend if you produce a bottle coming all the way from Georgia, the oldest wine growing location in the world. Tell the story of the 7000-year long oenology tradition and the unique ancient fermenting technology in quevri -- huge clay jars buried in the ground for temperature control. Georgians even invented the word gvino being the etymological source of wine. Wines from this stunningly beautiful country are made in an artisanal, natural way and are consequently among the purest wines in the world. You can't go wrong with semi-sweet gems, like Khvanchkara or the popular Kindzmarauli.

How about giving a bottle of the wine that was served to the Austro-Hungarian empress and her Vienna court entourage, but also found in the wreckage of the Titanic? Track a local wine dealer who can procure Bermet, the spice and herb-infused dessert wine produced in no more than 20k bottles a year in Sremski, Karlovci, and the surrounding monasteries of Fruska Gora mountain in the northern region of Serbia. Bermet's aphrodisiac properties make it a very special Valentine's gift! 

Speaking of sweet wines, they are traditionally considered a feminine drink, but it's also worth knowing what foods to pair them with to make an irresistible gift set. Pair a bottle of sweet wine with a nice selection of blue and harder cheeses. Sweet oxidative wines like Andalusian Pedro Ximinez or Muscatel -- as well as Sauternes, Port, vintage champagne, and sweet Riesling -- will balance the saltiness of parmigiano reggiano, pecorino, cheshire, stilton, roquefort, and gorgonzola in your gift-packed cheese selection plate. Add fruit and nuts not only for their decorative value, but for bringing the best flavor from the cheese and wine tasting experience. 

A perfect birthday gift idea for the ladies in your life is pairing a fine cake or other sweet confection with a bottle of sweet wine. You may need to consult a sommelier or a savvy wine shop assistant to make sure the wine is the sweeter of the two items. Ideally, do the tasting and comparing yourself. Stay safe with choosing a light fruit cake sure to flatter any semi-sweet to sweet wine. Want to make a foodie guy happy? Help him in establishing his sophisticated gentleman image by pairing a vintage bottle of wine with some of the increasingly popular wine gadgets and accessories. If he's a budding oenology enthusiast, pack a bottle of a grower Champagne along with some of the coffee-table books on wines. Stay away from the "Wine 101" titles, as you don't want to make it obvious that he's a newbie. A comprehensive book will help him learn, but will also look cool on the bookshelf put in between wine bottles.

For more experienced wine lovers, choose a wine that will complement their tastes in food. Bordeaux and Cabernet work wonders with their tannins for enhancing the taste of chops and steaks. In contrast, seafood tastes better when paired with delicate Chablis or Pinot Grigio. Once you've got that right, proceed with pairing a bottle of wine with an accessory. Naturally, it would help if you know what the recipient doesn't already have -- so use mutual friends as insider informers if you have to. A decorative cork cage, a sleek wine stand, a high-tech thermometer, or a fancy lever-operated wine opener are all great accessory options.

Special occasions and special persons, be it a family members or the significant other, deserve something truly exceptional besides a bottle of fine wine. Invest in gift certificates for a sommelier course to turn your beloved wine enthusiast into a real expert and the main entertainer at any dinner party. A wine-bar grade dispenser and preservation system will make your wine geek beam with pride. This investment is appropriate for someone really close like your spouse or retiring dad -- as you don't want a friend to feel uncomfortable about the suspected price tag of this valuable wine gift.

Finally, a wine-tasting getaway is the perfect anniversary gift. Simply attach the printed plane tickets and hotel reservations to the wine bottle, and enjoy the reaction it causes. A perfect Autumn and Spring destination is picturesque Hungary, with its mouth-watering traditional cuisine and the famous Tokaji wine. Choose the regions and wineries to visit, and you're good to go. A great 2-in-1 beach and wine-tasting Summer vacation idea is Sicily, a Mediterranean paradise where you can sample sweet Marsala and Zibibbo among other island wine wonders. Purchase a selection of bottles as souvenirs to bring back home, and you can treasure the memories of the gift wine trip long after you return home.

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