How to Buy Wine for a Friend

Angie Analyzes Wine On: How to Buy Wine for a Friend

As the holidays quickly approach, I get a lot of people asking me to help them find the perfect bottle of wine for a friend, family member, or co-worker. A bottle of wine can be one of the most memorable and thoughtful gifts you can give…or you can totally miss the boat and would have been much better off getting them a Visa gift card (or anything else) instead.

Because wine is so personal and subjective, you need to take the time to understand the recipient’s tastes and preferences. I like to compare it to buying someone concert tickets as a gift. You wouldn’t just go buy someone tickets to a popular concert without finding out which types of music they like first, would you? It’s the same thing with wine.  

Most people who buy wine as a gift do so with the best intentions, but their execution is somewhat lacking. Today I’m going to share three simple tips with you to help you make a thoughtful wine purchase that your friend or family member will be talking about for years to come.

Tip 1: Set your budget

Wine can get very expensive very quickly, and if you don’t set your budget, you’re likely to overspend. When you set your budget, think about what you can spend, NOT the prices of the wines your friend usually drinks. A well-chosen, thoughtful bottle of wine will beat an expensive yet meaningless bottle every time!

Tip 2: Find out their tastes

First, of course, you should make sure your friend drinks wine! I know it sounds silly to all us wine-lovers, but there are some people who do not enjoy wine and would rather receive a six-pack of beer. Once you know they like wine, ask them some questions like: What’s the best bottle of wine they’ve ever had? What wine have they been dying to try but haven’t gotten around to yet?

Of course, asking these questions might ruin the surprise unless you can somehow weave it into your normal conversation (and in my normal conversations, I talk about wine all the time!). Try being creative instead of obvious and ask questions like, “I’ve been bored with my wine routine. What would you suggest I try next?” If this is still too obvious or if you don’t have the opportunity to have regular conversations with them, you really need to get creative. Ask someone they know well for suggestions, or bust out some real ninja skills like I did recently. One of my clients asked me for help buying wine for a friend whose tastes she didn’t know anything about. She showed me a picture of his wine cellar and I noticed that most of the wines were Italian by the DOCG labels. I helped her pick out a good bottle of Italian wine and he LOVED it!

Tip #3: Ask for Help

You don’t have to go on this journey alone!! Any reputable wine retailer will have knowledgeable staff members who can help you out. When you go into a shop knowing your budget and the style of wine your friend loves, you can ask for recommendations. Remember to use your B.S. detector, though, to make sure the person you’re talking to is sincere and well-educated on wine. If in doubt, ask for someone else or visit a different shop. When you get comfortable with a specific shop and staff member, you can confidently go back to them each time you want to buy wine for a gift (or for yourself, of course!).

I absolutely love finding wine for people. The look on their faces when they open up a wine they love or that they’ve been wanting to try is what I live for. Now you can be a “wine matchmaker” as well with my simple suggestions!

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