How to choose a bottle of wine for a gift?

How to choose a bottle of wine for a gift.She says: Roger Noujeim, CEO at Quini Wine in Vancouver, @QuiniWine posted this question on LinkedIn today –  “How much do people’s tastes/palate differ when it comes to wine?”  I was inspired by the question, so here is my answer and more notes.

She says: There must be about at least a 50% variation in palates as when we do blind taste tests of several wines, the variance is sometimes mind boggling. Even when we have blindly tasted two bottles of the exact same wine, same vintage, etc. the variations can be extreme.

If you don’t know someone’s palate and you are buying wine for them as a gift – it can be tricky.  Keep these 5 suggestions in mind when shopping for a wine gift.

Wine gift recommendations:

  • (1) buy a wine that goes with a specific FOOD and attach a food recommendation for that wine. If you like to cook and want to go the extra mile, attach a recipe that you like to cook when you serve that wine in your own home.  You can also include tasting notes you read either in a magazine or on a wine blog.
  • (2) Give 2 bottles of wine!  (I’m sure the winemakers love that suggestion!)  Choose 1 white and 1 red with good reputations and again make food recommendations and / or print out the tasting notes and include in the package.
  • (3) If it’s not a serious occasion, buy a “fun wine” – a wine with a name / label / saying that relates to something or someone you both know. Once, when I was shopping last minute for a bottle of wine for a blind wine tasting, I chose a wine with the humorous note on the bottom that read “Open other end.” At the very least we would have a good laugh. Completely unexpectedly – that wine rated #1 at that blind tasting. Win-Win!  Which wine was it? I was taking a leap on the wine store’s recommendation and so I chose Frog’s Leap, Rutherford Cabernet – 2001 or 2002 – can’t remember. But every Frog’s Leap Rutherford Cabernet I’ve had since then is outstanding. You can read more about this “happy accident” here: Frog’s Leap Rutherford Cabernet
  • (4) Choose a wine from a vintage that is meaningful to both of you – the year someone was born, the year they were married, they year they graduated from college, etc.   Not always easy to find, but again – the importance of the occasion will determine how much time and money you put into choosing your wine.  If you want to make sure the year was considered a good vintage – use this handy vintage list:
  • (5) Let SOMEONE ELSE do all the choosing for you.  If you’d like to choose a wine gift with the wine and the trimmings of appropriate foods chosen for you – the best wine gift baskets we’ve ever found are from Fanciful Baskets: They can include any wine you prefer – or you can let them choose a wine from their extensive tasting travels.  Tell them Barrysentials Wine sent you and they’ll add a little something extra to your basket!

If you’d like to chime in to Roger’s poll on the variations in palates as applies to wine tasting – here is the link –

Food and Wine Pairing – Educational Poster from @WineFolly

He says: You need this.

He says: You need this.

He says:
 You need this.

She says: What? What? We’re going shopping?

He says: No. You need this Food and Wine Pairing Poster.

She says:  I doubt it.  I have you. What else could I possibly need?

He says: You’ve got to stop drinking any wine with any food – as if you don’t know what you’re doing.

She says:  But I DON’T know what I’m doing. That’s why I married you. And that’s why I have such a good time.

He says: I’m ordering it for you.

She says:  He’s right.  If you’re a food and wine enthusiast living with a food and wine newbie -or you want to elevate the pairing skills of  your staff at a restaurant, to a higher level,  take a look at the advanced food and wine pairing poster from

From the lightest and sweetest foods to the strongest, heaviest foods, appropriate types of wines are easily cross-referenced.  Along with recommendations of wine combinations for certain food combinations. is a site full of  all kinds of details about wine that you never knew you didn’t know.  Highly recommend.  Click here to visit

Apps for Wine and Alcohol Delivery.

She says:  I kinda couldn’t believe the title of this blog post on, but there it was The 5 Best Booze Delivery Apps.    Yep. In cities where it’s a complete pain to drive on certain nights (Yes, Los Angeles, this means you) there are apps you can use to have your wine, beer and other alcohol delivered to you.  So smart.   Click here to read about it:

5 Best Booze Delivery Apps

Your delivery guys won’t look like this.

Wine Trails of Italy from @MichelinGuides

Maps of wine regions of Italy, Michelin Wine trails of Italy, where to learn about Italian wine

BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK:  She says: If you’re traveling to Italy and you don’t like to schlep a lot of books with you, this MAY be the only travel book you need to take along.  It’s excellent for wine tasting — and yet excellent for just traveling to Italy in a general way with just a few tastings of wine along the way.  The brief descriptions of the regions is just the right size for me – I like to Continue reading

@TastingPanel Brings on the Holiday Bar Buying Show! aka The Holiday 2013 Buying Show

Holiday Bar Show, Holiday 2013 Buying ShowShe says: Hospitality people.  I LOVE them! They always seem to know the latest and the greatest beverages, treats and excitement-makers for being sure a possibly dull ol’ get-together stays spicy and fun!  I find out about new drinks and wines in piecemeal – various magazines, blog posts, random surprises by a friend – but the pros are the pros for a REASON!

Are they just brilliant? Are they so much more “all that” than we are? NO… they just attend the Holiday Bar Show every year – and, well, Continue reading

Movies About Wine Can Really Work: “You Will Be My Son” from Gilles Legrand

You Will Be My Son – Feature film directed by: Gilles Legrand
SEPT. 10 update:  You Will Be My Son opening at Landmark Theatres around the US.  Click to find a theatre near you!

You Will Be My Son, French Film, Drama, Family Wine Heritage, Movie about wine

Opens in New York 8/16/13

Opens: August 16, 2013 – New York City, The Paris Theater, 4 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone) 212-688-3800
Written by: Delphine de Vigan – screenplay (adaptation / dialogue)
Laure Gasparotto – collaboration
Gilles Legrand – screenplay (adaptation / dialogue)

He and She both say:
Paul is the proprietor of his prestigious family wine estate and has Continue reading

Mellissoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan, Washington – More Washington Wines!

Barrysentials He Said ~ She Said wine blog writers with Rob Mellisoni - Owner of Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Those Washington wines!

He Said ~ She Said wine bloggers w/Rob Mellison – Owner of Mellisoni Vineyards

The necessary disclosures: As part of Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 , we enjoyed a deeply discounted Lake Chelan, WA wine country excursion. Mellissoni Vineyards was on our itinerary. As a reader, you already know – we enjoy a few random discounts and gifts, but they do not sway our honest observations or tasting notes.  

Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan, Washington

Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Lake Chelan wine country

They’re waiting for you! What a view!

He and She both say: Overlooking the south shore of Lake Chelan, Mellisoni Vineyards specializes in high end whites and reds. Rob Mellison and his wife, Donna, began the winery in 2002, and have made tremendous strides in just a decade. Rob hosted a lunch and wine tasting for 8 of us prior to the start of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, and we all really enjoyed his wines and his company.  Rob is a very friendly and engaging person, quick with a story, and even quicker with generous pours of his wine.  The first words he uttered Continue reading