Welcome to Mark O’Neill’s Wine Blog

Wine can make a wonderful gift but are you aware that the wine you choose says something about you? If you want your message to be ‘I saw this wine and thought that you would enjoy it’ then here are some suggestion to assist you.

Let’s begin with a wine for someone who is casual wine drinker, who doesn’t know much about wine. It is advisable to avoid extremes and buy wines that are not too demanding. By that I mean a young Tempranillo from an up and coming winery rather than for powerful Garnacha from Priorato or a sweet German Trockenbeerenauslese. If the person is not familiar with these styles of wines they will not appreciate them as much as someone with more wine experience.

If you want to show imagination in your choice, rather than spending all your budget on a single bottle, why not buy two or three different bottles for the same amount of money. Each time the cork is pulled from a new bottle there is a sense of excitement, expectation and gratitude for the gift.

Add some flair to the selection by choosing a wine from another country or region alongside a local wine. There are so many good wines to choose from. Here in Valencia look for a Monastrell based red and pair it with a Mourvedre (the same grape) from southern France or from South Africa.

As a regular reader of this column, you will know that there are no boundaries to finding good wines. For example, a Syrah from the northern Rhone or a Pinotage from South Africa.

You may decide to choose a wine from a well known prestigious winery. Wineries want their very top wines to be show stoppers that wine awards. However, often they can be over extracted and just too powerful. Instead of buying the ‘top’ wine, I suggest you that buy the second wines. The price will be much more accessible and the wines tend to be more approachable and enjoyable.

You may want to include a sparkling wine. It is easy to pick a well known brand of Cava or Champagne, nothing wrong with that but it is not showing imagination. So look beyond the super brands, ask in your neighbourhood or online wine store for recommendations. There are many other sparkling wines to choose from such as a ‘Cremant’ from France or a Prosecco from Italy. A simple ribbon on the bottle is a thoughtful touch.

What to avoid? We all like offers and discounts but, as the saying goes ‘if something seems too good to be true, it probably is’. Tempting offers with discounts of 50% are mostly fake in the sense that the original price is not the real price. Look a bit harder and find credible offers rather than a false price.

When it comes to choosing wines as gifts it is a good idea to include a personal note saying briefly why you choose these wines.

Finally, why not buy two of everything, so that you too can enjoy the wines.

Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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