Tips on Gifting Wine from Sonoma’s Paula Moulton

If you want to look particularly sophisticated and cultured as we stumble toward the holiday season, you can’t go wrong with a gift of wine when you head over to a party or out on a date.

Fortunately, we have Paula Moulton, a Sonoma wine expert (Sonoman? Sonomite? Sonomanian?) is on hand to offer tips on giving great wine at any price point.

Paula is an author, contributor for Wine Enthusiast and evidently one of only 20 people in the world who passed the wine course earning the prestigious Cordon Bleu Wine Management degree in France. So there.

Related: Beef Jerky Gets Winey with Noble Vines

Here’s what she passed along to use on how you can seem way more sophisticated and cultured than you are.

Tips for Gifting Wine:

  1. Be Adventurous: Dare to be different and pick your wine based on the beauty of its label as long as it fits in with your price range. You may be surprised to learn that wine labels oftentimes reflect the personality of the wine in the bottle so perhaps your eye will be your trainer for the evening.
  2. Don’t Forget to Share: Wine is about sharing, so bring the gift of wine based on what you would pick to drink yourself.
  3. What About The Rules: Break the Rules! Your host/hostess is making pizza, but you only drink white wine and you’ve heard that red wine is traditionally paired with pizza. You might be surprised to learn that a full-bodied white and even a sparkling white or Champagne pair well with pizza.
  4. Don’t Forget to Learn: You want to branch out and try wine from other countries so research your host/hostess and bring a wine from the country of their origin.
  5. Remember the Seasons:Pick your wine based on the season. Is it winter and time for something hearty or is it summer and sizzling hot, pick your wine based on the weather?

“In general, I pair wine using a simple technique that I learned from a famous sommelier in France,” Moulton says. “‘Wine pairing should be looked at like we look at couples. There are two types of couples in this world: There are the couples who are similar to one another and make each other whole almost like being one person and then there are the couples who are completely opposite and one would never put them together.'”

“Both couples work together and form a powerful bond.”

So, Moulton added the following:

  • Is this wine similar to the menu? Ex: A heavy beef stew with lots of pepper and bay leaves would have flavors similar to a peppery, earthy red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a spicy Pinot Noir. The bold aromas and flavors of the wine are similar to the strong and spicy ingredients in the stew.
  • Is this wine opposite from the menu? Ex: A creamy white sauce over pasta would pair well with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. Why?The acidity in the wine is opposite from the creamy, smooth sauce and actually subdues and balances both flavors.
  • We would love it if you could feature some of Paula’s tips in any stories you might be working on. For more fun and quirky tips for selecting wine this season please feel free to reach out.


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