The holidays are nearly upon us, and that means parties, gift giving, and an exhausting string of errands. It can feel overwhelming to find something for everyone in time and on a budget while still trying to enjoy some cheer, so make it easy on yourself — turn to wine. No one is going to frown at a beautiful bottle of carefully curated vino; they can easily pour a glass for cocktail hour, open and share it for dinner, or save it for post-holiday destressing.
Careful, though: gone are the days of showing up at a holiday party with a bottle of wine you picked up on the way and, if the host is lucky, set in a tall skinny gift bag (tissue paper optional). With the endless options for personalized gifts, modern giving requires a slightly more personal touch.
Fear not, though. Wine makes it easy to create a unique experience no matter your budget or time frame. We’re here to help with options for a standout gift for anyone on your list (of legal drinking age, of course).
Classic Spiced Wine
Mulled wine is a favorite holiday treat; we often have a small slow cooker warming wine and spices on dreary Saturdays. Nothing transports you to the wintery markets of France quite like the smell of rich red wine and mulling spices.
Hosting provides a perfect opportunity to wow your guests with the revelatory taste of mulled wine, but if you’d rather attend the party than host it, there are ways to gift spiced wine:
- The Whole Kit and Kaboodle: Make a mulled wine kit. Buy a bottle of red wine — something rich and jammy, maybe even on the sweet side, like Primitivo or Pinot noir. Assemble a packet of mulling spices. You can make your own mix or opt for a store-bought version. Finally, add an orange, some (optional) brandy for fortifying, and an instruction card. Voila! Easy peasy.
- Some for Me, Some for You: Make mulled wine and gift chilled. This is a fabulously sneaky way to ensure you get a taste and still have some to share. Mull a large batch in your slow cooker or soup pot and chill whatever you don’t drink (though it may be hard to resist). Package the results in swing top bottles and include an instruction card — it’s important to note the mulled wine should be heated slowly to avoid boiling the wine — and you’re done!
As minimalism becomes more popular, the idea of gifting experiences rather than objects is on the rise. Instead of contributing to a person’s pile of things, add to their life experiences and knowledge. And really, isn’t wine all about the experience? Between the color, nose, mouth feel, and abundance of tasting notes, we revel in the way wine presents itself. Give the gift of indulging the senses with wine.
Put together a wine tasting basket. Pick a favorite wine or two and include flavorful treats. Think cured meats, cheeses, and chocolates.The idea is to create a playground for experiencing the wine — how does the vintage interact with different food elements? Invite your giftees to explore different tastes; try featuring a red and a white or introduce international flavors like Shiraz or Malbec. You can also showcase local vendors in your basket and give out-of-towners a taste of your region.
If you’re putting together a gift for someone new to wine, a social butterfly, or someone you love spending time with, considering putting together a wine tasting day. This doesn’t have to be an expensive commercial endeavor facilitated by a company. Rather, gather a few close friends, appoint a designated driver, and pick several local vineyards in your area to visit. Tasting fees are often minimal, and bottle purchases are up to participants. If you want, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the second or third vineyard — eating is an important part of tasting wine!
Remember Why You’re Giving
The holidays bring about a million and half occasions that we feel required to have a gift for. When you’re looking for a gift for a party host, new friend, or family member, stop and ask yourself why you’re giving them a gift.
Even if it feels like an obligatory occasion, identifying what you want to highlight with your gift will help you decide what the right gift is. And always remember, Layer Cake has the perfect bottle for any experience.