We all know that the holidays aren’t just about the presents. The festive season is about gathering together our family and close friends and spending quality time with those we love the most. But over in France and here in the U.S. too, the second most important thing has to be our holiday food and drinks! In France, where our founder Laurent is from, we love to sit down for a huge feast late on Christmas Eve with mounds of delicious dishes and delicious wines. 

If you’re visiting someone over the holidays and want to bring a bottle or two for your hosts or if you’re simply looking for a gift for a wine lover, choosing the right wine can be tricky. Will your recipient like the wine you’ve chosen? How do you know what to choose? And how much should you spend anyway? 

To help you with your holiday wine shopping and gift giving, this time we’re going to unravel the complicated etiquette behind giving wine as a gift. Here’s our top dos and don’ts to guarantee your lucky recipients love their wine gifts!

1. Don’t pick obscure wines

When you’re giving wine it’s best to avoid obscure, little-known wines unless your intended recipient is a wine expert. By all means, feel free to choose something that’s a little different, but try not to pick wines from unknown regions or exotic grape varieties unless there’s a specific connection like a recent trip to that place or an ancestral link to that region.

The easiest way to get it right is to leave the selection to us by choosing one of our one-off deliveries or wine club subscriptions. Recent wine shipments have included the rich Chateauneuf-du-Pape Roque Colombe red wine which was a huge hit with lovers of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon and the crisp dry Riesling Cuvée Engelgarden from Alsace.

2. Do present your wine gift at a suitable moment

If you’re giving a nice bottle or case of wine as a gift, you want to take your time to explain your gift. Rather than presenting the bottle as soon as you arrive at a holiday party or in the midst of busy wedding celebrations, try to find a moment of calm so you can tell the recipient about what makes this gift interesting or unique.

Here at somMailier, we actually send out dedicated wine cards describing each of our wines with every wine club gift subscription or one-off case of French wines you purchase from us. This means your recipient will know exactly what they are getting and appreciate the thought you put into their special gift!

3. Do spend what makes you feel comfortable

Gifting wine can seem a bit like a competitive sport. You don’t want to look cheap, but on the other hand if you spend too much you could risk embarrassing your intended recipient. Ultimately, how much you spend on a bottle of wine should depend on three things; your budget, how special the occasion is, and the individual you are giving to.

For once-in-a-lifetime events like weddings or big birthdays and valued business associates you’ll probably want to go a little higher than your normal gift spend. The same is true if you have friends or family members who are true wine enthusiasts and will really appreciate a top quality bottle.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that real friends won’t judge you by how much you spend! What’s more important is the thought you put into the gift. Another great option is to give a wine club gift subscription or a one-off delivery of wines that will introduce your lucky recipient to several new wines they won’t have tried before! If you don’t have a large budget, why not consider choosing a bottle that has a special significance for both of you like a wine from a region you have visited together.

4. Do think about how to send it

Since wine is a delicate gift, do think about how you’re going to deliver it to your intended recipient. Think about shipping regulations which often are restrictive when alcohol is involved, and don’t forget to wrap it very carefully if the bottle will need to travel! Shipping companies rarely have a reputation for gentle handling of packages, so use plenty of bubble wrap to protect the bottle and choose a sturdy cardboard box to keep it safe until it reaches your recipient.

If you don’t want the hassle of shipping your gift, why not consider buying wine from an online retailer who will handle the delivery for you? Here at somMailier we offer a wide selection of gift options ranging from a one-off case of three delicious boutique French wines up to a quarterly wine club gift subscription for two years. Best of all, we handle all the shipping and deliver your gift straight to your recipient’s door!

5. Don’t stress about presentation

Often when you are gifting wine the best presentation is a simple wine bottle bag and perhaps an elegant ribbon tied around the bottle neck. If you’re gifting a good quality wine, the last thing you want to do is damage the wine by overpacking it and leaving it in a hot room for several hours before you give it to the recipient.

Above all, avoid leaving wine in your car in the summer or winter as very high or very low temperatures will ruin the bottle in as little as an hour or two! If it is a very special bottle intended for your friend’s cellar, you might even consider bringing an insulated cooler bag to keep the bottle in perfect condition until you’re ready to give it.

Has this whetted your appetite to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club. Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!