Some Wedding Gift suggestions.
By Louis Marmon
Washington Jewish Week October 27, 2005
The invitation has arrived and you are wondering what to get to get the engaged couple. A check seems too impersonal and a toaster or tea set seems too boring. For a couple that enjoys wine, there are a number of interesting and exotic wine gifts available. As always, a knowledgeable professional at your favorite store is an important asset when choosing wine as a gift.
Champagne is always a good choice when celebrating a wedding or other joyous occasion. True Champagne is produced in only one region of France and it comes in a variety of styles. Vintage bottlings such as the outstanding Bollinger Grande Annee 1997 and richly flavored Pol Roger Brut 1996 are expensive but also age well. Non-vintage offerings are less costly and can be almost as good. Look for Billecart Salmon, Charles Heidsieck and Laurent-Perrier.
One option is to select a bottle produced in a year that is special to the couple. Since most wines of this quality are not released the same year that they are produced, expect not to be able to give them a bottle from the year of the wedding. Instead, choose another year, perhaps when they met or became engaged. Recent excellent vintages include the 2002 California and Oregon Pinot Noirs, as well as the 2002 and 2003 red wines from the Mendoza region of Argentina.
Some wine gifts are meant to be held for a long time. Typically this would be an extraordinary wine bought to commemorate the year of a child’s birth. But this still would be appropriate for a wedding if the couple is wine savvy, stores the wine properly and is willing to let the treasured bottle remain untouched for a period of time. Examples include 2000 vintage Port, the 1997 Italian wines from Piedmont and Tuscany, the 2001 Sauternes, and 2000 Bordeaux.
If you would rather give more than one bottle, there are various strategies that can be employed. Consider giving several bottles of a wine that are expected to evolve over the next couple of years such as the 2002 California Chardonnays or the 1997 and 1999 California Cabernets, and suggest that the couple try one periodically to appreciate the changes. Certainly an entire case of an exceptional wine would be greatly appreciated, but another alternative is to put together a case of different wines that could be sampled monthly for the first year of the marriage. This could include a German Riesling, a French Alsatian and a crisp Rose for the warmer weather, a couple of Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels for late summer dining and some Cabernet and Shiraz from Australia for the winter nights.
If the thought of actually selecting the wines is intimidating, another choice is to purchase a membership for the couple in a “wine club.” Like a “book-of-the-month” club, the members receive one or two bottles of selected wines each month for the length of their enrollment. Occasionally, local retailers will offer a wine club, but mostly the selections are in-store specials and they seldom include delivery.
Usually, wine clubs are national enterprises. It is important to remember that despite the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning intra-state wine shipments; it is still illegal in many States to receive wine from another State. Make sure to check the law in the couple’s jurisdiction before you attempt to enroll them in a wine club from another State.
Wine clubs offer various options. For example The International Wine of the Month Club (winemonthclub.com) offers three levels of membership (Premium, Masters and Collectors) as well as a newsletter and opportunities to combine a wine club membership with other items of interest such as chocolates or microbrews. The California Wine Club (cawineclub.com) focuses on smaller, family owned California wineries while the Cellars Wine Club (cellarswineclub.com) offers a diverse international selection, or you enroll in their “all about reds” or “90 plus point” club.
If you or the newlyweds are fond of a particular winery, determine if it offers a monthly subscription service. The Bonny Doon Winery, run by the weird and wonderful Randall Graham, has two such clubs: the “Distinctive Esoteric Wine Network” or DEWN and the “Slightly Less Esoteric Wine Network” or SLEWN which are differentiated by their dedication to questions such as “What would Riesling taste like if it were red?” (Bonnydoonvineyard.com). A more sedate choice is the Groth Vineyards wine club that will send 2 bottles of wine four times a year (grothwines.com) or the Sterling Vineyards (sterlingvineyards.com) that ships wine every month.