Wine lovers are often criticized for being extra opinionated about what they like (and don't like) when the subject of which bottle to drink arises. While the 2004 film Sideways did wonders for boosting wine tourism in Napa and is credited for causing an explosion in pinot noir production, its characters didn’t do wine snobs–ahem, oenophiles–many favors in the court of public opinion.
Which can make gifting wine as a engagement or wedding gift particularly daunting. Layer in the complexities of sending wine in the mail and you might find yourself lamenting that the juice isn’t worth the proverbial squeeze. But fear not. “One of the things I love about wine is the story that comes with it,” says Jen Pelka, a hospitality industry veteran and co-founder and CEO of the sparkling wine brand Une Femme Wine. “If you give a wine lover something that leads them deeper into the story of wine, you can’t go wrong.”
To help, we consulted a blend of winemakers, sommeliers and merchants to offer up the best advice and products, taking the guesswork out of finding the perfect wedding gift for your vino-obsessed friends.
Read on for the best gifts for couples who love wine.
Best for Serious Wine Drinkers
Zalto Denk'Art Universal Hand-Blown Wine Glass
Glassware is the top gifting recommendation from every single one of our experts. “It’s the vessel that can make or break your wine experience,” says Angela Sauve, Director of Education for Moët Hennesy. “Besides great company, I think beautiful glassware is the best accessory for enjoying wine,” adds Pelka.
Our experts agree, when it comes to serious stemware, Zalto Glas is the way to go—they all call out this Austrian glass maker as the leader of the pack. “Hands down, they are the most coveted,” raves Adam Dunn, owner of the wine boutique Dunn & Sons. Nearly weightless, these superior, hand-crafted glasses are works of art in their own right. However, at an average $75 a stem, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for these (or add them to your registry). “They’re expensive, but they’re also elegant, timeless, and functional,” says Pelka.
Price at time of publish: $75 per glass
Riedel Vinum Mixed Gift Set
“Your sense of taste is directly linked to your sense of smell,” says Sauve. “The design of the wine glass bowl functions to highlight or detract from facets of the wine like boldness, smoothness, fruitiness and oakiness which can enhance or detract from a wine’s drinkability.” So, it’s best to drink from glasses that are designed for specific varietals. This introductory set from another renowned Austrian glassware producer, Riedel, features 4 red wine and 4 white wine glasses and is a good foundation for any couple’s glassware collection.
Price at time of publish: $225 for 8
Best Stemless Glassware
Gabriel Glas Drink Art Edition Stemless Glasses
When practicality and function are top of mind, stemless glasses are a great option. Sommelier Elyse Lovenworth recommends stemless glassware, because they can be used for other beverages as well as wine. This beautiful set of six glasses from yet another Austrian producer, Gabriel Glas, is her current favorite in the category. Featuring an “All for One” design, these glasses are well-shaped for nearly every type of wine and they're dishwasher safe, so they're also useful for everyday life.
Price at time of publish: $74 for 6
Best for Champagne Celebrations
Maison Balzac Pompom Wine Glasses
Forget standard champagne flutes. These fun and colorful hand-blown glasses from female-founded Maison Balzac will “just make everyone smile,” says Pelka. As Katharine Hepburn famously said, “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun,” and this collection of offbeat glassware certainly delivers on that mantra.
Pelka says she is on a mission to retire the standard rules for serving champagne because, “the same way a bigger glass opens up aromas and flavors in other wines, it can do the same for sparkling!” These glasses are the perfect way to set the tone for pouring bubbles and will have the couple finding excuses to celebrate whenever they can.
Price at time of publish: $129 for 2
Best All Around Tool
Coravin Timeless Six Plus Wine Preservation System
No matter what you're drinking out of, a bar stocked with the right tools and accessories is key to elevating the experience. “Hands down, every serious wine aficionado must have a Coravin,” advises Jenn Shimer, General Manager of Boston's Wine Emporium. Part opener, part pourer, part aerator, part wine stopper, the Coravin is a tech-enhanced revelation and a must for anyone serious about pouring wine with integrity.
The device allows you to open bottles and pour without the need to fully remove the cork. It’s as easy as aligning the smart clamp system over your bottle, inserting the needle into the cork, tipping the bottle and pouring. Don’t have time to decant your wine? That’s fine! With an aerator attachment, the Coravin allows you to generate the effects of 60-90 minutes of decanting instantly. Can’t finish the bottle? Never fear! The Coravin’s self-sealing silicone screw caps will protect your wine for up to three months. Available in a variety of color options (including a Keith Haring Artist Edition), the high-gloss finish of the Coravin makes for an elegant and customizable gift that serious wine lovers will covet.
Price at time of publish: $329
Le Chateau Wine Decanter
According to Dunn, a decanter is an “essential for any wine lover,” and this hand-blown, lead-free beauty is one of our top picks. It features a wide base and asymmetrical spout that are optimal for both aeration and pouring. And like your couple’s love, this decanter is made to last. Although it's heavier than some other options, the thick glass walls make it less delicate and prone to chipping if it happens to take a tumble.
Price at time of publish: $50
Best Wine Chiller
Vinglacé Wine Bottle Chiller
A favorite of champagne-expert Pelka, this chiller is the perfect accessory to keep your bubbly and white wine cold without the mess of a bucket of ice. Constructed from stainless steel and vacuum insulated, it's is also lightweight, easy to carry, comes in a beautiful gift box, and, to top it all off, can be customized with laser-engraved lettering or a logo. “It’s such a fun and thoughtful detail for a very practical gift,” says Pelka.
Price at time of publish: $90
Laguiole En Aubrac Sommelier Waiter's Corkscrew
Unlike many openers, the distinction of a waiter’s corkscrew is that it incorporates a knife to cut the foil. And when it comes to knives, the world’s most expert craftsmen can be found in Laguiole, a small village in France, and the surrounding Aubrac region. This buffalo horn corkscrew hand-finished by craftsmen of the famed knife-making region is ultra-strong, ultra-durable and, in our opinion, ultra attractive. As beautiful as it is functional, the mechanism is designed to remove corks with a single, fluid movement.
Price at time of publish: $170
Best for the Beginner
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine
Opposites attract, and not every couple is as balanced in their interests as their favorite bottle of pinot. Gifting a book that will help one partner draw the other into their world is a great option. “This book is a great starting point for anyone,” says Shimer. Any wine lover will appreciate it as a refresher, or as a way to lure their spouse deeper into wine caves.
Price at time of publish: $13
Best for the Coffee Table
Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terriors of the Iconic Region
“I love gifting a wine coffee table book, there’re some great ones out there at all price points,” says Lovenworth, Both Lovenworth and Pelka agree that this mighty tome on the history of the world’s most famous sparkling wine region is a knock-out. The luxurious box set includes a pullout tray with a complete set of seven vineyard maps by legendary cartographer Louis Larmat. Crack the spine and readers will immerse themselves in the James Beard award-winning scholarship of Peter Liem, delving deep into the region’s history and lore. It’s sure to leave the couple thirsting for more.
Price at time of publish: $77
Best for the Connoisseur
The Impossible Collection of Wine: The 100 Most Exceptional Vintages of the 20th Century
Any wine aficionado would jump at the chance for personal bottle recommendations from world-famous sommelier Enrico Bernardo. And, outside of traveling to France to dine at his Michelin-starred restaurants, this show-stopping volume is about as close to a conversation with the man named best sommelier in the world in 2004 you are ever going to get.
Open the gorgeous wooden crate box, flip to any page and you will be immediately immersed in evocative descriptions of the 100 vintages from the 20th century Bernardo considers to be the “perfect cellar.” From a 1928 Krug Champagne to the 1973 Stag’s Leap Estate SLV, the collection Bernardo has assembled and describes will have any wine connoisseur dreaming and scheming of how to get their hands on a bottle.
Price at time of publish: $1,200
Best for Napa/Sonoma Region
The Scribe Viticultural Society Subscription
Shipping wine is notoriously difficult (more on that below). Wine clubs and subscriptions that put the onus of coordinating logistics onto professionals are an excellent alternative. Whether you're interested in the wine of a particular region or vineyard, or are looking to sample bottles from around the world, there are no shortage of options.
Getting access to great bottles of wine is one thing, but getting exclusive access to what Pelka describes as “the most beautiful winery in all of Northern California” takes this wine club membership to an entirely different level. Run by the family who owns Sonoma’s Scribe Winery, this club not only gives you quarterly access to their incredible range of wines but also the exclusive right to book reservations for picnic tastings at their gorgeous Hacienda. Sitting on the Sonoma hillside, absorbing the views, the sun, and copious carafes of Scribe’s signature wines is an afternoon experience the couple will be recounting for years to come.
Price at time of publishing: $165-$215 per quarter for a 4-bottle shipment
Best for an Alternative Region
DeLille Cellars Estate Wine Club
While the name might roll off easily, Walla Walla, Washington is not a wine region on the tip of most wine lovers tongues. According to Lovenworth, it should be. “DeLille produces incredible wines from an under-the-radar region. It’s always a wow factor any time I introduce it.”
Membership in the Estate Wine Club includes three bottles of the vineyard’s varied red and white offerings once a quarter and, if you happen to be in the area, five complimentary tastings for a group of four each year.
Price at time of publishing: $640 annually for 12 bottles
Best for Bubbles
The Sip Society Membership
If your couple loves bubbles, this black-female-founded wine society is a top choice for Sauve. Sign your couple up for a six-month membership and they will receive three curated boxes of high-end sparkling wines direct to their door. Each box contains three different 187ml pours and a “real-talk” tasting guide, giving your couple both the opportunity to try new wines each month and the vocabulary to tell their fellow oenophiles about them.
Price at time of publish: $177 for 6-month subscription
Best for Variety
Wine Access Membership
Another top choice from Sauve, the ever-popular Wine Access offers a range of clubs and memberships to suit the particulars of any palette. Think about your couple’s wine personality and choose from clubs curated to their tastes and, importantly, your gifting budget.
Price at time of publish: $120-$525 per shipment
Best for Virtual Flexibility
A wine tasting is a great way to both unwind and expand your palette. But geography posed a big problem for most of our experts in aligning on what to recommend. If you know the couple will be headed to a particular wine region on their honeymoon (Napa? Champagne? Tuscany?), our experts recommend you dig in and identify a local option to gift.
If you’re looking to gift the couple a series of regular local tastings, do some research and find out their favorite wine boutique. Chances are that the merchants—like Dunn and Shimer do— can help curate a wine tasting experience that's tailored to the couple.
With connections to wineries all over the globe, Sommsation offers up over 150 curated wine experiences that can be delivered straight to the couple’s door. Pick from a list of partner wineries and Sommsation will send the vintages needed to host a scheduled, 90-minute, sommelier-led virtual tasting experience.
Price at time of publish: $150-$250 per experience
Best for Cheese
Murray’s Cheesemonger’s Picks of the Month Club
“Every food and cuisine has a wine pairing opportunity,” says Sauve. While charcuterie and cheese may seem like an “easy win”, is is a delicious choice—plus, there are plenty of other options that both she and our other experts recommend for a thoughtful wedding gift.
Sinatra may have crooned that “love and marriage fit together like a horse carriage,” but we all know that so do wine and cheese. If your couple are turophiles–yes that is what a cheese lover is called!–on top of being oenophiles, a membership to Murray’s Cheesemonger Picks of the Month Club will be a surefire hit. Each month your couple will receive 3-4 unique cheeses hand-selected by the team at the legendary New York City cheese retailer.
Price at time of publish: $205 for three months
Boska Ultimate Cheese Board
Sure, every couple remembers to register for a knife set, but did they register for cheese knives? If your couple is as serious about cheese as they are about wine, this beautiful set from the world’s preeminent producer of cheese tools is a must. It features a gorgeous oak serving board that doubles as storage for this comprehensive set of 10 stainless steel cheese knives. The blades of each knife feature the family-owned brand's patented quilting, which ensures cheese lifts easily off the knife. Waste not. Want not.
Price at time of publish: $350
Russ & Daughters American Caviar Trio
“Caviar may sound crazy fancy,” says Pelka, “but these days you can find all sorts of affordable varieties online and even in grocery stores. It’s my favorite thing to pair with bubbles.” This trio of American-produced varieties is a perfect caviar starter kit for a newlywed couple to indulge in. Featuring three 50g tins of caviar, a mother-of-pearl spoon, and the traditional accouterments of blinis and creme fraiche, just add some sparkling wine and your couple will be in for a culinary treat they are sure to remember.
Price at time of publish: $485 for 150 grams
Petrossian Mother of Pearl Caviar Spoons
“Mother-of-pearl spoons are a lovely and unique gift,” says Pelka. “They’re traditionally used to serve caviar because they are non-metallic and won’t influence the delicate flavors.” They're also beautiful to look at and can be used for a variety of serving purposes, from scooping spices to stirring sugar into espresso.
Price at time of publish: $15 per spoon
Best for Shellfish
Toadfish Coastal Kitchen Collection
No matter what your couple’s preference for shellfish, this handy and attractively packaged kit has all the tools you’ll need to crack crab, clean shrimp, or shuck oysters. Featuring distinctive aquamarine-hued, ergonomic handles, these tools from industry experts Toadfish Outfitters are among the safest available.
Price at time of publish: $88
Outset Cast Iron Oyster Grill Pan
If your couple is particularly accident-prone and the idea of sending them shucking sounds dangerous, grilling is an easier alternative. Often overlooked, grilling oysters eliminates the need to shuck and this cast iron pan with space for a dozen shells makes getting them on and off the grill a snap. Built from durable cast-iron to last as long as their marriage, popping the champagne cork will be the biggest hazard your couple will face during their next seafood pairing.
Price at time of publish: $37
What to Look for When Buying a Wedding Gift for Wine Lovers
What the couple likes
While it might seem like an easy out to simply gift a bottle of wine, our experts warn it may not be the best without doing your due diligence. “I usually don’t recommend gifting a wine lover just any bottle of wine, unless you are really confident you know exactly what they are looking for,” says Lovenworth.
Shipping alcohol is also highly nuanced and the logistics can generate more annoying surprises than the desired delight for everyone involved. If you're planning to send wine through the mail, make sure to check with the requirements of the state or country it's going to. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to find a gift that ties back wine if actual bottles are out of the question.
How do I choose a nice wine to gift?
If you do want to gift a bottle of wine, Lovenworth advises to be as personal as possible. “Find a region, producer or vintage that will have significance to the person/ people receiving the gift. For instance, a wine from the year (vintage) that they met, married, had their first child, etc. Wine doesn’t necessarily need to be rare or expensive to be good.”
If you’re on the hunt for a specific bottle, Dunn recommends Wine Searcher, which catalogs the inventories of hundreds of online wine stores to help you find the bottle you want at the right price.
As far as selecting a bottle goes, “if you want to make an impression with the gift, ask a local, well regarded specialty wine shop for a suggestion,” advises Dunn. “Personally, I would generally say you can’t go wrong with sparkling though. There are always occasions to share bottles of bubbles.”
Here are a few distinctive producers recommended by Dunn.
- Best for the White Wine Lover: “Domaine Roulout is a legendary producer of some of the finest Meursaults, if not some of the world’s finest white wines. But a more affordable option–that will also probably be easier to find–is Benjamin Leroux.”
- Best for the Red Wine Lover: “For Pinot Noir, Sylvain Pataille is a rising superstar winemaker. He originally began as a lab scientist studying grapes, and started his own domaine from nothing in 1999. Since then, he has produced some of the loveliest, most vibrant wines around–all while emphasizing organic and biodynamic farming practices.” “Out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Beaux Freres is another incredible small producer. Since 2002, they have had 14 new releases of Pinot Noir, all of which earned “classic” ratings of 95 or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. No other Oregon label can claim more than five classic Pinots, which tells you everything you need to know.”
- Best for the Sparkling Wine Lover: “Pierre Péters produces champagne from one of the great Chardonnay growing villages on the planet. They never disappoint with fresh, zingy Champagne that has great stoniness, nuance, and complexity.” “Bérêrche Et Fils is an incredible producer with an emphasis on organic & biodynamic farming. These are wines of power and substance held together by a fine balance.”
- Best for the Fortified Wine Lover: Chateau d’Yquem is widely considered to be the greatest Sauternes producer. The wines can age for 50+ years, resulting in a sweet, sweet nectar. However, they are very expensive and can be difficult to find. Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927 - This sherry is delicious on its own, but even better poured over ice cream.
How can I gift a wine subscription?
Wine clubs and subscriptions that put the onus of coordinating logistics onto professionals are an excellent way to gift wine. Whether your couple is interested in the wine of a particular region or vineyard, or are looking to sample bottles from around the world, there is no shortage of options.
Keep your couple’s personal preferences in mind and run a Google search to find the option that will suit them best. Many clubs feature gift options that let you set the term of membership for whatever your gifting budget can accommodate.
Can you send wine in the mail?
Wine (and alcohol in general) are notoriously difficult to ship. Given all the considerations and logistics surrounding shipping and delivering wine, it can turn into a real hassle for both you and the couple and leave everyone feeling annoyed rather than delighted. “Depending on the shipping it could be like gifting someone a puppy. It’s a nice thought, but leaves the recipient with a lot of work they might not have been looking to take on,” says Dunn.
“Every state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to shipping wine,” adds Lovenworth. If you are going to send a bottle she says, it's best bet is to send through an online retailer. But you should still confirm that they're licensed to ship to your desired destination. "You also want to notify the recipient that you sent them a gift and they will have to be home to sign for the package when it’s delivered, so always provide your giftee with the tracking information. Beware that the weather can cause delays in shipping as well if it is too hot or too cold.”
If you do decide to send a bottle, leave it to the professionals, advises Pelka. “I don’t recommend packing and shipping wine on your own—have it shipped directly from a vineyard, distributor, or online wine retailer.”
“I recommend using a reputable company like Wine.com,” adds Sauve. “They take great care to ship your precious wine selection carefully and legally.”
Meet the Expert
- Jen Pelka is co-founder and CEO of the sparkling wine brand Une Femme Wine.
- Adam Dunn is the owner of the wine boutique Dunn & Sons on Cape Cod.
- Angela Sauve is the Director of Education for Moët Hennesy, the Wine & Spirits Division of LVMH.
- Jenn Shimer is the General Manager of Boston-based wine shop, The Wine Emporium.
- Elyse Lovenworth is the Chief Sommelier at Sommsation, a site for wine tastings and experiences.
Why Trust Brides
Peter Tittiger is a freelance writer and content strategist. He is also a huge foodie having spent the better part of a decade publicizing and working alongside some of the world’s greatest chefs, including Rene Redzepi of Noma, Ferran Adria of el Bulli, and Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana. He has a never-ending thirst to expand his knowledge of wine and food and maintains close ties to the hospitality industry.