How to Give a Wine-Related Wedding Gift with Style and Panache

I would hasten a guess that approximately 99.7% of all to-be-married upwardly mobile couples have wine glasses on their gift registry.  The percentage that has dessert glasses on same said registry is probably 0.3%.  Tragic, though it may be, this seems to be our manifest destiny unless we start to extol the virtues of liquid gold.

This dearth of dessert wine glass wherewithal is a shame and a shame that needs to be fixed!  The path of least resistance, obviously, tied into when people receive wine glasses as a gift, is to increase the awareness of the delights of dessert wine … more on that in a second …

Most of these registry wine glasses, purchased from the same department stores nationally, end up in the dining room china cabinet relegated to three times annual spot duty.  It should be noted that the owners of these wine glasses are the same folks who drive consumption of popular media articles about pairing wine for Easter/Passover, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hanukkah.  At least we know who to blame.  Hardly ever, however, is a breath unleashed, or a keyboard stroke tapped, on dessert wines or the attendant drinking vessel.

There is a gigantic wine culture vacuum on dessert wine, a sublime pleasure that everybody (anybody?) can appreciate. 

This thought came to me as I contemplated my Sister-in-Law who has ten weddings this summer and ten gifting opportunities.  More than that, probably, if you consider the gift grab that is modern day wedding showers, a practice that can squeeze you for every nickel and extrapolate your gifting requirements with a multiplier.


Fortunately, my window for summer wedding travel closed a few years back, but that doesn’t mean wisdom earned from numerous gifting opportunities can’t be passed along.

Essentially, there are only a few ways to skin the wedding gift season, customizable to your gifting value comfort level, $35 to $50 being the entry point, $100 being a nice way station and $150 being suitably generous.

1) Buy off the registry

This is the safe, boring route.  The bride wants an All-Clad skillet, a china place setting or eight red wine glasses.  You spend money commensurate with your relationship standing with the bride and groom and a rough approximation of what the reception food and bar tab is by individual.  Snooze.

2) Buy cheap

Depending on your proximity to the couple, you can go the inexpensive and safe route and buy a picture frame or two or something equally unmemorable like kitchen accessories—the Oxo vegetable peeler being a popular choice, an item that suddenly seemed covetable when the bride-to-be had a scanner in her had at Bed, Bath & beyond. 

While you’re driving down your costs as a gift-giver, you’re also lumped into the same category as Uncle Bob and Aunt Edna – a week later the bride and groom can’t recall who got them that gem of a picture frame and as long as the thank you card has been sent, they probably don’t care to remember, either.

3) Go off script and freelance

This is typically my domain as I’ve always hated to buy off the registry.  My wife tells me that safe is better than sorry, but I’ve never followed that practice.
Call me a vain glorious gift giver, but I’ve always liked to give a gift that challenges somebody’s POV, or is at least unexpected.  Sure, they’re not asking for it, but I think the best gifts are those that are personal, memorable and add to somebody’s life.

My current obsession is dessert wine – notably Inniskillin; better described as liquid gold.  Consequently, since my friends and family know I’m way into wine, my current gift recommendation to my Sister-in-Law is turning other people onto dessert wines, specifically Inniskillin, and how to drink this nectar of the Gods.

A perfect wedding gift for those that are wine inclined is a beautiful bottle of Inniskillin, any variety, and some cordial glasses with a tailored “how-to” on how to enjoy. 

In this regard, you have to go down the route of Icewine or, at the least, a Late Harvest wine, because most women who have a cursory knowledge of wine still think of Port as something that goes with a cigar, dark paneling and men that refer to women as “Broads.”  So, keep your gift positioning to the general rubric of “dessert” wines.  Nobody likes to piss off the bride and you’re already taking a small risk by freelancing.

Here’s what to do:

1) Go to your local wine shop, or shop online and grab any bottle of Inniskillin relative to how much you want to pay.  Prices range from $35 to $95.  Keep an eye on bottle size because Inniskillin does bottle in 187 ML bottles.  Bigger is better, relative to your cost threshold. Literally, they’re all good, so you can’t go wrong.  In the last two weeks I’ve enjoyed the Riesling, Vidal and the Cabernet Franc.  Each one was delicious. A can’t miss.

2) Now that you have the bottle of Inniskillin, buy dessert glasses.  Here is where I encourage you to be creative.  If you find dessert wine glasses these days, they typically have a stem.  Boring.  Any small drinking vessel will do and the cooler the better.  Icewine is a sipper, so you don’t need a large glass.  Small is okay.  If you buy vintage, I think you get bonus points for thinking outside the department store box, as well.

In order to knock this out you’ll need to do a search online for “vintage cordial glasses,” “footed shot glasses” or, if you’re feeling real dandy, “vintage egg cups.”

This isn’t my idea, and I’m not sure where I thieved it from, but egg cups make a fantastic dessert wine drinking glass.  They hold just about two ounces, they come in an amazing assortment of kitschy cool styles and they allow you to give with panache.  This is the route I recommend, but if your inner Republican calls you, go with “footed shot glasses,” this is, in fact, what I drink out of.

3) Now that you have your bottle of Inniskillin and your cool egg cups, get some Avery labels – my recommendation is the greeting card kind and then search online for, “ice wine.”  Cut and paste from Wikipedia, pilfer some clip art, add a food pairing with some cheese, print out and sign your name.

You have now just officially become the coolest wedding gifter – total price is tailorable to your budget and you’re guaranteed to be mentioned by the couple every time they use the glasses in the future, which, based on how good Inniskillin wine is, should be often and forevermore.

And, finally, we end where we begin, because you have now also just done a small part in shaping the wine future of the couple by forsaking the wine glasses that get used three times annually while singlehandedly increasing the percentage of dessert wine glasses that are purchased for weddings from the 0.3% to at least 0.1%. 

You’ve also just set yourself up for baby’s first gift, too.  I like to give wine or liquor as a baby gift, nobody ever thinks about the parents, and they’re going to want to start a collection of egg cups, too—trust me, but that’s a post for another day.