As cliché as the saying is, it really is the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving and receiving. That’s precisely why my list has become more and more wine-centric over the years. It’s easy to do when surrounded by some of the best wineries in the world as we are in San Francisco. Whatever the occasion, friends and family, bosses and teachers will appreciate uncorking a good wine and a good time. But how do you choose just the right one?
Sonoma-based Paula Moulton, a wine expert, author, and one of only 20 people in the world to earn a prestigious Cordon Bleu wine management degree in France, educates professionals and amateurs alike on all matters of the grape.
She offered some advice, which helped assuage my head-scratching. “Wine is about sharing, so bring the gift of wine based on what you would pick to drink yourself,” Moulton advised.
For host or hostess gifts, she suggested doing a little research on the recipient’s region or country of origin, then bringing a wine from there to add a more personal touch. Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley is a go-to spot for French wines. Italian wines are the specialty of Biondivino in San Francisco and Blue Danube Wine Company specializes in central and eastern European wines.
If practicality is a top priority, Moulton suggests staying local and by local she means choosing wines easily found at the local market or wine shop.
“Let’s face it, we have enough busy work in our day-to-day life as it is and the last the thing we all need is to become perplexed about whether a wine order will be delivered on time.”
Some of Moulton’s favorite accessible and affordable wines (generally between $8 and $20 a bottle) include Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer ($18.99) and Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel ($19.99), both of which can be purchased at K & L Wine Merchants at 638 Fourth St. in San Francisco.
For a gift that’s more experiential and hands-on, sign yourself and a friend up for a class at the new Winemakers Studio at family-owned Wente Vineyards in Livermore. There you’ll taste, blend and create a customized bottle of wine ($125 for a 90-120 minute session).
Or spend a weekend afternoon with a friend at The City’s own Bluxome Street Winery where tours and tastings ($25 per person) are held at 2 and 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The event offers a peek at the thriving urban winery along with a seated tasting of five wines, plus a charcuterie plate.
Like Moulton said, wine is about sharing, so whatever gift you choose, be it a well-thought-out bottle of your favorite elixir or a wine-themed outing, be sure it’s paired with good friends, which is always the right blend.
Kimberley Lovato has been writing about travel, food and drink for the last 20 years and has never met a happy hour she didn’t like. She writes at www.kimberleylovato.com.