Here Comes the...Wine!
Your parents registered for the fine china, the sterling silver gravy boat and the patio furniture starter set. But, with today's couples marrying later, when they already have the essentials, newlyweds-to-be are asking for more non-traditional gifts. According to the 2006 "American Wedding" survey by the Conde Nast Bridal Group, these gifts include registering for wine, sporting goods, and recreational memberships or tickets to museums or sporting events. Gift-giving experts are saying that the bride- and groom-to-be are saying, "Give us a memory," rather than "Stock our china cabinet," and suggest thinking about the couple's hobbies when giving gifts. Foodies define wine as a memorable experience and often appreciate good wine and a starter cellar that offers a variety of delicious gifts.
Thanks to the assorted selection, guests need not worry about giving the same bottle of wine as other guests. Less wine-savvy consumers may be skeptical about giving wine, but can use the following guidelines and speak to their local wine shop for help in finding a variety that has an assortment of everyday bottles as well as wines that will be appreciated in 5-, 10- and 15-year increments (proper storage is essential, but easier than you think).
Suggestions for adding to the newlyweds' "cave," be it a small, cool apartment closet or a temperature controlled vault in the basement is easy with a few simple tips:
* Give a wine the recipient will drink: Select from wine regions that afford red, white and roses for both everyday meals and special occasions, such as Rioja, known as Spain's leading wine region, which makes wines from tempranillo grapes. Adrian Murcia, assistant sommelier at New York's James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Chanterelle, explains, "Thanks to the tempranillo grape, the expressive and velvety rich Spanish classic, Rioja wines are renowned for their ability to complement many different foods."
* Don't break the bank: Select a gift that fits your budget but also reminds the couple of their wedding day. A series of tickets to theater or sporting events work well for some, but for the wine lover, some givers feel wine is only an acceptable gift when it is an aged bottle with a very high price tag. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Robert Eigen, owner of Premier Cru Wine Merchants in New York City says, "Rioja is always a good choice for a wedding gift because of the quality of wine and the value. With many varieties of wine from the region, there's something for everyone." The region of Rioja also has easy-to-understand information, as the bottles are aged and released from the winery when they are ready to drink. The back of each bottle features a seal indicating each wine's age: Crianza, the most popular house wine of Spain, is aged 12 months, or the deep, flavorful Reserva is aged 36 months. Better yet, such wines are affordable, with prices that range as low as a few dollars per bottle to no more than the equivalent cost of your run-of-the-mill gravy boat.
* Pick a theme: Whether it's eco-friendly wines (Rioja has several) paired with wine glasses made of recycled glass presented in a beautiful bag made of recycled materials or 12 wines to be delivered to the newlyweds' door each month for a year, the theme gives the couple something to look forward to and a great memory.
* Give advice along with gift: For wedding or party guests who truly want to give a unique gift, include ways to make a magical night with the wine such as concert or theater tickets or a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Also, gift-givers might want to ask the manager of the store where they purchase the wine for a recipe or meal suggestion that perfectly complements the wine. In general, wine sellers are wine drinkers, so they're liable to have a host of suggestions ready. When giving your gift, attach a card or note with a few suggestions or even a recipe.
To learn more about Rioja, Spain's greatest wine region, visit www.vibrantrioja.com.