Gift-Worthy Wines That Seem More Expensive Than They Are

gift wine

There are few things in this world more satisfying than finding yourself in the wonderful circumstance of discovering wine that is inexpensive, but perceived expensive. This happy valley includes a broad swathe of bubbly, especially the various non-Champagne sparklers in the Crémant category, which manages the trifecta of looking expensive, tasting delicious, and calming the wallet. See my suggestions for the best of this serendipity and just how to spot them.

Roederer Estate Brut, Gruet Brut from new Mexico (but owned by French expatriates), and Segura Viudas Aria Brut (with its silvery metal crest) are three key picks in the sparkling category.

Other wines that drink and dress above their price include Muscadet, the oyster-worshipping white from France’s Loire Valley, which often carries an old-fashioned, aristocratic-looking label.

Beaujolais cru is another winner in both respects, its packaging prominently displaying a Beaujolais cru village – such as the chichi-sounding Morgon and Brouilly – rather than emphasizing the overall region of Beaujolais, which often gets confused with much-maligned Beaujolais-Nouveau.

Moderately priced Bordeaux such as Chateau Talbot, Château Greysac, and Château Gloria also offer cachet for less, with elegant labels featuring noble chateaus and coats of arms.

Another dependable deal, Rioja from Spain, can have impressively gothic labels and sometimes a wrapping of gold fishnet mesh, which was historically a feature to prevent counterfeiting but now adds a dose of gilded glamour.

Another way to lend illustriousness to your bottle is to deliver it in a wooden box, available at finer wine merchants and homeware stores; a gift wine encased this way is like adding a beautiful frame to otherwise humble artwork.

Finally, consider personally labeling gift bottles with a tag that suggests food pairings or a cheeky “drink-by” date; a little bit of handwritten effort glows brightly in the digital era.

For more about wine and ways to find my best inexpensive suggestions, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire. Take advantage of the Gift Like A Billionaire Giveaway while supplies last!

Buy All the Wine Tools You Need For $15

adobe-spark-2There are myriad wine accessories on the market and while I’m definitely not averse to some of them, the sober truth is that many gizmos are not necessities. There are two items that I consider absolute essentials for drinking wine, and you need not invest more than $15 total on them (and one of them can involve Tupperware!).

The Corkscrew:  Be it rabbit style, wing, arm, self-pulling, or two-prong, there is a galaxy of cork extractors out there. But nothing beats the simple Waiter’s Friend corkscrew for sheer ease of use, affordability, and portability. Look for ones with a Teflon-coated spiral for easy drilling, and a little serrated blade to cut the foil off the bottleneck. Or you could just go for wine with a screwcap.

The Pitcher:  The only other mandatory tool is a decanting vessel, which is a fancy way to say you need a pouring container in the event you want to soften your wine’s tannins or remove its sediment. (More on this in my book!) But before you drop hundreds on one of the many fragile, curvaceous glass decanters available, know that a simple glass pitcher in your kitchen will suffice. In fact, I know a whole slew of happy connoisseurs who decant their priceless bottles with Tupperware. Tongue firmly in cheek, they affectionately refer to their trusty vessel as the Club Crystal.

For other ways you can save money while drinking richly, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts).