Bottles and Bows

Ottawa Business Journal – Executive Dining Guide

November 29, 2004

As we approach the holiday season, we are bombarded with advertising about finding, “The Perfect Gift”.  Each year, finding this ultimate gift, whether for employees, friends or family, the task gets more difficult.

Giving the gift of wine could be your answer. With a vast array of countries, grape varieties, price points and packaging, shopping for wine gives you endless opportunities to find “The Perfect Gift”. Whether it is a bottle for the host of a party, or a package of wines to recognize your employees or for customers to thank them for their loyalty, the gift of wine is always well received.

When you embark on your shopping spree at your local wine shop, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Choosing wines to age. If you are selecting wines with the intention for them to be placed in the recipient’s wine cellar, it is recommended that you do not choose a wine in a clear glass bottle.  A dark coloured bottle protects the contents by defracting the light and is a quick indicator that the winemaker intends for the wine to be aged.

Price is not an indicator of quality.  Outstanding price tags do not necessarily mean that it is an outstanding wine.  To choose a wine that is of good value, ask a LCBO Product Consultant for their recommendation of wines in your price range.

Splurge on a bottle of something different.  Why not break away from ‘the usual’ red or white wines and select a bottle of sparkling wine, port, sherry, late harvest wine or icewine.

Add a personal touch. Since you have hand selected your gift, write a personal message on the bottle using a metallic glass marker available from a stationary supply store. Included in the message could be the reason for choosing the wine, suggest an occasion to enjoy the wine or provide food pairing suggestions.

If you do not have the time to spend roaming the aisles at the wine shop, there are other convenient ways to give the gift of wine.

Gift Packs from the LCBO

The LCBO has the “Holiday Wrapped Up” in-store promotion that takes the guesswork out of shopping for wine. The store shelves are well stocked with colourful packages of wines, some containing accessories such as wine coolers, corkscrews, music CDs or a set of wine glasses.  These gift packs are not only convenient but are great to have on hand for last minute gifts.  And the LCBO will gift wrap your selection at no additional cost. New this year, the LCBO will ship your order directly to the recipient within Ontario.  Call 1-888-LCBO-GIFT (1-888-522-6443).

Order direct from a winery

If you prefer giving a more unique gift, order wines directly from an Ontario winery. With over 80 wineries in Niagara, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County regions, there is no shortage of options.  Shopping can be done from the convenience of your office by calling the winery or visiting their web site to view the wide range of wine gifts available. Many wineries have Christmas gift programs from a single bottle to an attractive wooden crate of wine, foodstuffs, wine journals and celebrity cookbooks. All Ontario wineries will ship directly within the province, while others are licensed to ship across Canada.

Another novel idea for “The Perfect Gift” is giving a bottle of wine with your company name and logo incorporated into the label.  Private labeling is offered by a number of Canadian wineries and the minimum order is less that you may expect. The labels are professionally designed, complete with the wine details integrated into the final product. This is an innovative gift to be enjoyed by your employees and customers or to give to clients throughout the year or for special company events.

Let a Sommelier select your wine

The Accredited Sommeliers of The Savvy Grapes have the extensive knowledge of wines and the winemaker’s.  With this combined knowledge they can create an exclusive gift of wine. Ask one of their Sommeliers to accompany you on your holiday shopping spree and you will learn more about wines as you shop. Alternatively give your shopping list and budget to these experts and they will select, package and ship your perfect gifts of wine.

Still looking for more gift ideas?

· The Savvy Grapes offer gift certificates for their popular and fun winemaker’s dinners and Sommelier led dinners.  These events are memorable experiences for everyone regardless of their wine knowledge. More information is available at http://www.thesavvygrapes.com

· Give an evening out at an award-winning restaurant. Most restaurants have gift certificates available. Recently, the Wine Spectator’s Magazine granted wine list awards to Trattoria Caffe Italia, Vittoria Trattoria, Le Baccara, Empire Grill, Fratelli, Les Fougeres, Luxe Bistro, Meditheo, Merlot, Perspectives, Restaurant 18, Signatures, Vittoria Trattoria (Rivergate Way location), and Wilfrid’s Restaurant.

· New and classic wine accessories are available at kitchen specialty stores, gift shops, bookstores and wine shops.  Look for wine decanters, wine glasses, hand crafted wine coolers, decorative wine stoppers, wine motif napkins and wine journals.

Packaged in a gift bag, festive stocking or wooden crate, giving the gift of wine is as much fun selecting the gift as it is receiving it. Keep in mind that wine is “The Perfect Gift” anytime.

“Cheers and Happy Holidays!”

Debbie Trenholm is an accredited Sommelier who hosts fun and informative winemaker’s dinners, Sommelier led dinners and wine tastings for private and corporate clients and the general public. To receive invitations to The Savvy Grapes upcoming events, contact her at debbie@thesavvygrapes.com


Some Ontario wineries with exclusive Christmas gift packaging:

Angels Gate Winery http://www.angelsgatewinery.com

Henry of Pelham http://www.henryofpelham.com

Malivoire Wine Company


Lailey Vineyards


Vineland Estates Winery http://www.vineland.com

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