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How to Buy Wine for a Wine Snob

grand cru burg

No-one will turn down a Grand Cru Burgundy 

We all have that friend, family member or colleague who loves their wine and can get pretty particular about it (at Wine Compass, that person is usually us). It can be intimidating finding yourself in the position of needing to purchase wine for them. This guide is to help you find the wine that will please and impress. Whether it’s for a gift or something to be consumed at a dinner party, the following tips should have you covered.

Don’t Panic

People generally tend to be gracious when receiving gifts! Even if its not quite right, if you’ve taken an interest in someone else’s preferences, they will probably appreciate it. If they’re ungracious, then it probably wasn’t worth the effort…

Buy the Exact Same Thing They Bought You

It might sound unimaginative, but buy the same wine they brought around to your place. You know they like it, and held it in enough esteem to buy for you. By getting the same bottle of wine you’re saying, “I remember sharing and enjoying this wine with you, and wanted to experience that again.” If it’s affordable and not for drinking there and then, get a couple of bottles for their cellar.

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Get Them Something From a Region They Like

Rack your brain and see if you can remember what wine region they have been going on about. If your wine snob is particularly vocal this might not be that hard. If they are a big fan of Spain, or Alsace, or Hawke’s Bay, see if you can find something from one of those regions at an appropriate price point. You’ll either end up with something they know and love, or a brand new thing to try from a place of interest.

kooyong massale

Sometimes a pretty label is a good basis for selection

Ask for Help

Get the person at the wine shop to pick something for you. This might require going to a decent sort of wine store, but most retailers will have someone friendly and knowledgeable on hand to help you out. Even if you have no idea what kind of wine your snob usually likes, you’ll likely get a handful of good suggestions and reasons for why someone might like them. If it turns out great, take the credit. If your recipient hates it, pass the buck to the recommendation!

Get them Something Wine-adjacent

Most wine lovers also like other kinds of drinks. You could find a fancy and obscure bottle of beer, or a spirit like Whisky or Cognac. Fortified wines like vintage Port or Rutherglen Muscat tend to be very well liked but aren’t the kind of items that people often buy for themselves. Fortifieds also have a longer shelf life than most table wines, so you can enjoy a glass of Port or Muscat at dinner and they can slowly enjoy the rest of the bottle in time.


Rutherglen wines can be sweet but are versatile and long-lasting

These tips should help you get a result. If you want a bit more detail, why not check out one of our region-specific articles:

Introduction to Burgundy

Cool Climate Shiraz

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Kieran Clarkin
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