A guide to wine gifting for the different personalities in your life

Wondering which wine or spirit to place in which Christmas stocking this festive season? Fine wine lover Dan Nicholl has got you covered. With only a few weeks to go before the big festive break, now is the best time to decide what gifts to give to the various people who’ve made a contribution in your life in 2016.

Wine always makes for a great gift, but there are some practical considerations to take into account when making that important purchasing decision. Wine drinkers have personal preferences and attention to this detail is vital when deciding which wine to buy to suit a particular individual’s personal taste.

Having practised the art of wine gifting, Nicholl recommends the following festive buys to complement all the necessary festive purchases you might have – from your father-in-law, mother, boss, partner and best friend. Here’s Nicholl’s suggestions for:

The ‘wine expert’ who always brags about his wines

Mullineux & Leeu Straw Wine 2015 (R350) 

Why? South Africa produces some of the world’s finest sweet wines. Jane Austen was talking about Grand Constance 200 years ago, and the sweet wines from Constantia are just as celebrated today. However, to please this particular wine lover, I’d suggest something a little less known and more exclusive: Mullineux & Leeu Straw Wine, made from a single parcel of 35-year-old Chenin Blanc vines.

Your boss

High Constantia Sebastiaan 2006 (R280) 

Why? It is important to get the balance right with this gift – you want a gift that ensures your boss views you in a positive light when drinking it, but which doesn’t make it seem like you’re trying too hard. A word of advice: You also don’t want to buy an overly expensive wine or you might give the impression you’re being paid too much. High Constantia isn’t as well-known as some of its neighbouring estates, which makes this a little more exclusive – and both the packaging and vintage are eye-catching – at a very reasonable price. And it’s a lovely Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend. Order quickly, though, as it’s in short supply!

Father-in-law who likes wine, but who isn’t a wine expert

Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni 2009 (R295) 

Why? My father-in-law is from Greece, home to some exceptional wine and his brother Gori’s homemade retsina Greek wine (which has notes of Harpic and Handy Andy!) is hard to come by in South Africa, so I’ll go for the next best thing: Italian. Mediterranean wine often speaks to the life and energy of family gatherings in that part of the world, and the Tenuta di Castiglioni does exactly that. It is a bold red blend that’s not heavy, but can still hold its own against the sizeable feast my mother-in-law will prepare for Christmas. A terrific taste of Tuscany, and definitely best bought by the case.

Your father

Ernie Els Proprietor’s Syrah 2014 (R240)

Why? Although my father isn’t a big drinker, he is mad about golf, and for that reason I would buy him the Ernie Els Proprietor’s Syrah. The winemaker at the estate, Louis Strydom, produces exceptional reds and, while Ernie Els Signature is the flagship wine from this estate, the Proprietor’s range isn’t far behind in terms of quality – and the money saved will cover a round of golf to complete the gift!

Your best friend who just recently started a wine cellar 

Anthonij Rupert Optima 2012 (R180 from Port2Port)

Why? You’d want something that they can try now, but which they can also cellar for the next five to 10 years. Therefore, I’m suggesting a case of Anthonij Rupert Optima – one of the best-value-for-money wines we have in South Africa. It is an outstanding red blend, a fairly recent vintage can be drunk now, but the majority can stay tucked away as the new collection takes shape – and hopefully one of those bottles will be shared with you a decade down the road.

Your gin-loving mother

Hope on Hopkins Salt River (R320) and Inverroche Classic (R350) 

Why? This spirit has undergone a massive local surge in the last year or two. South Africa now makes some superb local varieties, bursting with botanicals and perfect for summer! Either the Hope On Hopkins Salt River, or the Inverroche Classic, will make for a very happy mother – although remember that the tonic water is also important, so throw in some Fever Tree as the perfect companion.

The friend who has it all

Opus One Napa Valley Red 2012 (R6 835) or Meerlust Rubicon 2013 (R350)

Why? You might need to have a word with your bank manager, but a bottle of Château Pétrus fits this particular bill – provided you can find some, and have somewhere in the region of R65 000 to part with. (If so, I’d very much like to be your friend.) A little more comfortable on the wallet would be a bottle of the iconic Opus One Valley Red or the Meerlust Rubicon. I’d also give some thought to tracking down older South African wine. One of the best bottles I’ve opened this year has been a Waterford Chardonnay 2004 – local, premium white wines have far more ageing potential than they’re genuinely given credit for, and some vintage white will make for a different, and very welcome, cellar addition.

Your partner who isn’t easily impressed

Charles Fox Vintage Brut Cap Classique 2011 (R240) or Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2014 (R465)

Why? Think bubbles – but not French Champagne. I’m a massive fan of the local fare we produce, and a bottle of Charles Fox’s explosive Cap Classique matches anything the ‘Gauls’ can come up with. Alternatively, a smooth, regal Pinot Noir is rarely bettered: Paul Cluver’s Seven Flags, the perennially brilliant offerings from Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson, or the Newton Johnson Pinot Noir, which I find myself drinking more and more of, are all worth a look.

All wines available on Port2Port 

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