We all know that feeling when we’re trying to impress our best friend by bringing a selected bottle of wine to his or her birthday party. First of all, you should be clear on whether your friend even likes wine, and is not perhaps a devoted beer or spirits lover. Once you have that out of the way, you’re ready to pop into the nearest well-stocked wine shop and pick a bottle that will knock your friends off their feet.
1. Don’t let a tight budget keep you from bringing good wine.
If you can’t afford a decent bottle on your own, it’s usually a good idea to ask other friends to contribute. This is your chance to impress and you don’t want to miss it. Remember that cheap wine will also taste cheap. If you get this wrong, your birthday boy (or girl) might just have to resort to drinking beer instead. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but do stay in the mid-range segment, especially if you know your friend has recently been to a Wine Tasting. You can easily get a beautifully tasting bottle for somewhere around 18 to 20 euros. Remember that the bottle may be drunk in a night but the taste of good wine will linger on.
2. Pay attention to the time of the year.
You wouldn’t want to drink a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon on a pleasantly hot summer evening. Instead, you should pick a wine that goes well with the season. It will make your choice easier not to mention it will also complement the mood of the party better. For instance, choose a Sauvignon blanc for summer. It’s vigorous fruitiness and a harmonious touch of minerality, rounded off by a well-embraced acidity, will be the perfect finishing touch to a birthday celebration in hot weather. For fall, you can’t miss by choosing a nice oaky Chardonnay with a hint of vanilla. And as for spring, the mineral and slightly herbaceous notes of wines, such as Slovenia’s native Zelen or Pinela, will absolutely impress everyone at the party. These last two wines are also known for leaving a pleasant aftertaste, which is perfect for an early spring gathering.
3. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re just starting to learn about wine.
Ask a connoisseur for advice. There are numerous web pages where you can get help from experts if you’re shopping online. If not, and you decide to visit a store, ask a sommelier in your local wine shop. He or she will be happy to list a few wines, that will complement your friends’ personality. You should also ask other friends which wines they like. Perhaps someone has even heard your donee mention one that he or she likes, making your choice that much easier.
4. Think outside the box.
It can be pretty daunting to look through the various labels, with no clue of what exactly it is that you’re looking for. Choosing from the colourful selection is never easy and you shouldn’t be afraid to pick something that stands out. It’s also a good idea to do some experimenting first and maybe choose a wine you recently tried in a restaurant or one that you liked at a Wine Tasting.
5. Think of your friends’ taste and personality.
If you know he or she has a sweet tooth, you’ll most likely get it right by choosing a dessert type of wine. Sweet Muscat or a Traminer are two good examples. On the other hand, if your friend is known for being more conservative, you are better off choosing a sparkling wine. In that case, make sure it was produced by the traditional method (not with the Charmat method). Alternately you may also choose a lighter red wine, such as a fruity Barbera or an elegant Pinot Noir.
6. Don’t let yourself be fooled by an eye-catching label.
Looks can be deceiving! No matter how delicious a bottle may look, the taste of its content is not necessarily as great. Follow the preceding advice, stick to mid-range prices and consult an expert. Sometimes the best wine comes in the strangest looking package.
7. Buy a few bottles.
If you’re not on a budget, or you’re buying the wine with a whole bunch of friends, don’t feel obliged to limit yourself to just one bottle. Pick a few and assemble them in a gift box. That way you’ll offer your friend a larger array of flavours and let him or her choose which one is best. The upshot is you’ll have a better understanding of what he or she likes, which means that from that point on, you can simply stick to the preferred choice.
These are our two cents on choosing the perfect wine for a birthday present. That being said you should trust your gut. Remember that in wine there will always be the truth – no matter what the taste. Bottoms up!