Regifting means pawning off a gift on someone else. The folks from Emily Post at Etipedia.com say, “Just because the word regifting has made it into the language does not mean that something that was once unacceptable is now standard practice.”
When thinking of regifting wine, proceed with caution. Consider why you do not want the gifted wine. If you don’t care for it, why would someone else find it appealing?
If you do decide to regift a wine, make a note of what you are passing along. Also think of something to say about the wine should the person who gave it to you inquire later if you enjoyed it.
A cohort of mine has a one-word reply when asked a question like this. The word is “remarkable.” I prefer the more generic “interesting.”
When regifting wine, be cognizant of the wine’s age. If someone regifted you, it could be something past its prime when received.
As a general rule of thumb, white wines made from popular varietals such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio are good to drink upon release or up to five years beyond their vintage date.
Red wines, such as those made from cabernet, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah or blends of these grapes, should be good for up to 10 years from their vintage date.
Fortified wines such as Port and Sherry, as well as some dessert wines, may be aged for extended periods.
Don’t regift exotic wines from obscure regions you know nothing about. What if the beneficiary of your largess says, “What a remarkable wine! I am not familiar with sagrantino from Umbria. What foods should I serve with this?”
If regifting such a wine, do a bit of research before passing it along. Information on most wines can be found on the Internet. Who knows, upon further research you may find yourself in possession of a rare treasure that should be shared with your benefactor, if only you could remember who that benefactor might be.
When regifting a bottle, check to make sure price tags and personal gift tags are removed. Also check for personal notes and cards in gift bags. Nothing exposes regifting more than leftover gift enclosures.
I think all wines received as presents should be opened, even though many may end up down the kitchen drain. If asked how you enjoyed the wine poured down the drain, there is always “remarkable” to fall back on.
There are other innocuous descriptors to banter about in this situation. Try one of the following: “The wine really opened up after it had time to breathe.” “It was remarkable but would likely have been more remarkable if I had given it more time to mature in the bottle.” “Its complexity made it interesting.”
Regifting can be complicated. When it comes to wine, why bother? Never before in our history have there been more quality wines available locally and at reasonable prices.
If you are clueless about wine selection at this late hour, Wine.com, our nation’s top online wine retailer, has just listed its top sellers for the first 11 months in 2012.
Two wines from their Top 10 are locally available:
• Seghesio 2010 Sonoma Zinfandel is $23.25 at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs.
• Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Cabernet is $14.99 at Winn-Dixie.
• Conundrum, a white blend by Caymus Vineyards, took the No. 12 spot and is available for $16 at Tyson’s.
Although not on the list, wines made by Birmingham négociants The Wine Liberation Society are good last-minute gift selections. Look for their 2010 Union Hill Cabernet (in the $25 range) and their moderately priced Travaux wines at both Tyson’s and The Wine Cellar on Quintard.