Lifestyle & opinion

Six tips on buying wine as a gift

Catherine Housden from our Tasting & Events team tells us how to make someone very happy indeed this Christmas, with her tips for choosing the perfect wine gift. Take a look at our Christmas gift guide for more inspiration.

Members' favourites

Even for the most experienced wine lover, buying wine as a gift can be daunting: firstly because of the overwhelming choice available, and also because you're trying to find something that will suit an unfamiliar palate. But with a bit of care and the tips below, you'll be ticking off your gift list in no time!

1: Preparation is key

First things first: be prepared. Make a list ofthe people you'd like to treat this year, whether loved-ones, colleagues, teachers, neighbours. Secondly, set yourself a budget – this could be per person or as an overall spend. Doing so can make your browsing experience easier if you know how much you want to spend per bottle. Finally, always keep the recipient in mind – knowing their interests and what they enjoy can give you a good idea of what to look for. But, if you're stuck, the following may give you some inspiration.

2: Sparkling is always special


With the variety of styles available you'll be able to find a fizz to suit any taste or budget. For fans of richer, creamy, biscuit-tinged wines look to Champagne, Cava, English Sparkling Wine or Crémant. If you're looking for a crisper, fruitier style then consider Prosecco or Moscato d'Asti, which blends delicate sweetness and lovely ripe orchard-fruit notes. Moscato d'Asti is also only 5% alc, which may be a bonus for some on your list.

>Discover our selection of sparkling wines

3: Treat a foodie with a wine to match their favourite cuisine

For foodies the world is your oyster and the adage of 'what grows together, goes together' is a great starting point. For example, if Italian food is their favourite, look to an Italian wine, whether a robust red for meaty ragùs or a crisp lemony white for creamy pasta and antipasti. Or, if they have a sweet tooth, then consider dessert and fortified wines which will match puds perfectly.

However, thinking in terms of flavour and weight can offer a broader idea of what to buy. If they like rich, meaty fare then consider red wines such as Argentine malbec, California zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon from Bordeaux or Australia. If it's fish on their dish,then perhaps Portuguese alvarinho or muscadet from the Loire. The fresh flavours of south-east Asian cuisine suit grüner veltliner or pinot gris wonderfully. For vegetarian or vegan giftees take a look at our vegetarian and vegan wine section for a selection of bottles approved by both the Vegetarian and Vegan Society.

>Let our food & wine matcher help you find perfect pairings

4: Take them somewhere far flung

If your lucky recipient is a fan of travelling the world why not remind them of a destination they love or somewhere on their bucket list to visit, perhaps a Marlborough wine from New Zealand or something from Stellenbosch in South Africa? If they're open to exploration, then an off-the-beaten-track variety such as moschofilero from Greece or a Bulgarian mavrud would be sure to pique their interest. And don't forget the hedgerow zing and whip sharp freshness of English still and (even better) sparkling wines, perfect if you're wanting to shop a little more local this Christmas.

5: Think outside the (standard) bottle

Half bottles and magnums both have their own unique appeal: half bottles give a great introduction to different grapes or styles of wine and are the perfect size to slip into a Christmas stocking (with enough room left for the chocolate coins and tangerine). But if you feel that your recipient is deserving of a gift as impressive as themselves this year, then consider a magnum (which contains double the amount of a standard bottle). There are lots of options available from across the wine world and they make a pretty magnificent gift to unwrap on the big day.

>Discover half bottles and magnums

6: Remember the spirits of Christmas


As per Dickens' A Christmas Carol, don't ignore the spirits! Why not look to treat your recipient to a special bottle of their favourite spirit this year? With artisan gins of myriad flavours, special whiskies and spiced rums, you'll find a tipple to suit for sure. Finally, remember we have a wealth of information available online to help you narrow down your search for that perfect bottle and don't be afraid to get in touch if you're a little stuck and need some advice – we're here to help!

>Discover our range of Spirits

>The Wine Specialists team is here to help enhance your joy of wine

>Explore our wine gifts

Catherine Housden

Tastings & Events

Catherine Housden

Catherine joined the Tastings team in 2019 after three years in Member Services, and many members will know her in her role as Tastings & Events host. Away from work she is a keen cook and, in a bid to become more eco-savvy, has started learning basic dressmaking. Her top food and wine match? ‘Fino or manzanilla sherry with tapas. All day, every day.’

Back to top