Admittedly, I have given wine as a last resort for a gift many times. It's a fine gift of course; the desperation comes from not having thought of something more personal for the recipient. Rushing out to the nearest LCBO (when in Toronto) or the local off-license (in England) only to find myself staring at the shelves asking no in one particular 'Do they like dry wine or crappy sweet wine?' I have only a brief moment with which to make assumptions about someone I barely know - if I knew them well I wouldn't be in this situation - and determine whether what I do know lands them in the category of refined palate or White Zinfandel. And then how do you choose from the hundreds of bottles? It's enough to give you make your head spin and not in a fun way. We all know by now that you can't judge a bottle by its price or the fanciness of its label, so what to do if you're not clued in to the fineries of the wineries? (Just let that one go, please).
Natalie MacLean to the rescue. The hugely popular sommelier and wine writer behind NatDecants at nataliemaclean.com comes with accolades so distinguished that my inbox shot off fireworks when her email landed in it. And guess what she had done? Thoughtfully tailored a list of wines for the people you might be looking to gift during the holidays, if you're one of those nice people. She makes it meaningful and she'll make you look good. She even took the time to grant my humble request for a recommendation for the 'impossibly chic fashion-loving friend'!
Natalie’s Top Ten Gift Wines for Your ...
1. Hairdresser: For the person who combines humor and optimism every time she styles your mop. Go for a light, gulpable wine like a dry rosé. It’s versatile and fuss-free—a great quaff for your coif.
2. Psychiatrist: Of course, he’ll analyze whatever you give him so choose a wine that’s all about balance. Easy-drinking pinot noir is medium-bodied yet packed with flavor. Surprise him with a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Big thinking means big progress for you. This wine also works for psychologists, marriage counselors and bartenders.
3. The Boss: Pick too pricey a wine and your boss will think your last raise was too much; go cheap, and she’ll think you lack judgement. Focus on a label with a lot of white space since that makes the bottle look more expensive. A castle in the distance also works, but avoid fluffy animals.
4. Personal Trainer: Think a muscular, robust red would work? Hold that position. Instead, try riesling: this light white wine pairs well with a health-nut diet of salad and seafood, plus it’s low in alcohol. You can also give it to Pilates instructors, yoga masters and Tai Chi coaches.
5. Financial Planner: You and he both know it’s going to take decades before your portfolio recovers after the crash of 2008. With that long-term view, vintage port makes the perfect gift. This fortified wine from northern Portugal, with its long aging potential, will be around for both of you into your retirements.
6. Travel Agent: She’s been everywhere and seen everything, so go local with your choice of wine. Even better, if you live close to the winery, get the bottle signed by the winemaker.
7. Teacher: If you can’t find a suitably obscure wine with a Latin name, there’s always cream sherry. It’s the tipple of Oxford dons, not to mention the centerpiece of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Case of the Amontillado.
8. Mail Deliverer: Go for a winery that’s consistent year after year in producing a wine that can be enjoyed in snow, rain, sleet or hail. Try an Australian shiraz or Argentine malbec.
9. Mechanic: Yes, there’s a wine called Red Truck, but try to be more imaginative. Why not give a wine made by Mario Andretti in California or Ferrari in Italy?
10. Online Date: So you’re on your second or third rendezvous with the person you met on eHarmony or Dating.com. If you’re not sure yet whether marriage is a possibility, try something middle-of-the-road, like merlot. Yes, it’s the soft jazz of wine, but until you know, play it safe.
And the bonus recommendation for Swelle readers:
2008 Little Black Dress Merlot, California ($14): A juicy, plum-rich red that will please both wine lovers and fashionistas. Generous and stylish, this wine deliver superb good taste.
Top me up!
For Natalie’s favourite wineries, tasting notes and recipe matches for all the wine types mentioned above, visit here. Trust her, she was named the World’s Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia!
Thank you, Natalie!