It’s a tradition spanning decades, the gesture created to leave a good impression, a token of appreciation for hosting a gathering, an act of camaraderie, respect even reverence; it’s the ‘gift wine.’ Of all the frequently asked questions I receive, the most recurring is, “I’m finally meeting the parents, what wine should I get?” There are many factors that should influence your pick. Do they prefer white or red? What season is it? Often I find it’s generally good to acknowledge family heritage. If, for instance, the parents come from an Italian background, they might attach special importance to Italian wine. Another factor is the appearance of the bottle. No matter how expensive or delicious it might be, not everyone is a connoisseur, and may judge the wine by its bottle, and thus, your gift-giving. It’s important for a gift wine to look respectable. Another variable is the varietal. What grape do they prefer? This may be difficult to ascertain prior to meeting the parents, so I like to err on the side of Cabernet Sauvignon; an immensely popular variety that is generally very palatable for many different tastes. However, the most important factor is how much money you are willing to spend. Here are a few classy Cabernets in a variety of price ranges that are sure to impress.
LOW: Santa Rita Reserva ($13.95)
This Chilean Cab Sauv is a perfect cheap gift wine. Full of oak, vanilla, and raspberries it’s a bold, simple, and flavourful wine sure to appeal to a variety of palates. It looks respectable too, with a clean white label bearing a sketch of the chateau, and red accents. For under $15, this budget buy will still effectively demonstrate your desire to impress.
MID: Ringbolt ($19.95)
Made in Australia, Ringbolt is a full-bodied and perfectly textural wine, with great flavours of wood, black currant and spices. A recurring bottle at my family’s dinner table, I’ve never heard a bad word spoken about it. With a minimalistic grey label, depicting only the lowercase name ‘ringbolt’ and the varietal, the bottle bears the appearance of understated class. As a gift, this Cab Sauv is sure to go over as smoothly as it goes down.
HIGH: Beringer ($37.95)
Hailing from California, Beringer’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a brilliantly bold example of this varietal. Notes of earth, organic honey, and red fruit complement the staple Cab Sauv flavours of oak and vanilla. Beringer has a beautiful deep grey label, with silver lettering and a subtle sketch of the vineyard. The price has risen steadily with its popularity over the last few years, and at almost $40, this wine is a serious gesture of gratitude.
COLOSSAL: Inglenook/Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet ($89.95)
I don’t care who you are trying to impress or what debt you’re trying to repay this Californian Cab Sauv is sure to do the trick. Laden with flavours of smoke, cedar and leather, this enormous bodied wine has so much muscle it definitely feels like you’re drinking something important. It has a wooden, circular label, with a rustic looking depictions of barrels and grapes and ‘Cask’ in red lettering, making the bottle alone a conversation piece. Close to $90, Cask is a serious gift to give.
Bringing a bottle of wine to appreciate the host, celebrate an achievement, or acknowledge a good deed is a classic token gesture. While you might not know precisely what wine the recipient likes, it’s prudent to pick a popular varietal like Cabernet Sauvignon, and get a bottle that looks respectable. There’s no need to bust the bank, the thought most certainly counts. Just remember to do your research, pick a classy and tasty bottle, and always sip it slow.