Gifting wine takes tasteGifting wine takes tasteChoosing wine for gifts takes taste

Christmas gifts, holiday parties and New Year’s are always occasions for a great gift of a good bottle of wine.

Gifting wine during the holidays is as much of a tradition as lighting the Menorah, decorating the tree or singing the seasonal songs.

But giving a friend, boss or client a bottle of wine doesn’t come without some trepidation. Since beginning the column, now more than eight years ago, I’ve often tried to take a journalistic approach to Grape Sense. I’ve written recommendation columns and will do so again.

But to talk holiday giving, I asked friend and wine retailer Ron Miller, owner of Cork and Cracker near Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. Ron’s shop is one you should wish was near you. He has hundreds of choices under $20 and two walls of wine at higher price points.

He’s used to getting the holiday gift question.

“Oh yes, we get it a lot this time of year,” Miller said. “We get questions for a lot of corporate gifts where someone is giving to clients, so they don’t know what they’re going to want, so we stick to cabernet or pinot noir, or if it’s white, more standard items like chardonnay.”

Whether it’s a gift for a friend, a client or your boss, price point matters if you’re trying to impress.

“What we get a lot is they want to get a name brand the recipient is going to recognize,” Miller said. “But we don’t buy based on names, but we do have some well-known labels. If they’re in the price point, we’ll give them a name the recipient will recognize. But we don’t carry Silver Oak and Caymus. Those are some labels a lot of people will ask for because ‘They’ll know how much I’ve spent.’”

If it’s a bottle for a friend or to take to that party, it gets a little simpler.

“First, we ask what kind of price point do they want to be in and do they know what their friend likes,” Miller said. “We always get the price point. If they know what their friend likes, we try to match up something that we think they will like. If they’re not sure, we kind of stick with the standard cabs, chardonnay and pinots.”

It’s safe to say the advice probably wouldn’t be much different at any other reputable wine store. But it’s better, I think, hearing from someone who sells wine for a living.

I’d end by echoing Ron’s advice. If you have any doubt, go the safe route with a cabernet, chardonnay or pinot noir. I’ll do what Ron won’t, though, and suggest you get up to at least the $20 price point for good, quality wine.

Howard W. Hewitt of Crawfordsville writes every other week about wine for 20 Midwestern newspapers. Reach Howard at: hewitthoward@gmail.com