The do’s and don’ts of booze-giving etiquette

In the spirit of gifting spirits appropriately (or any alcohol for that matter), when it comes to what to look for, what to definitely avoid, what to spend and how to present it; there just isn’t much help out there. If it’s any consolation, humans have been gifting booze for hundreds of years, and we still haven’t mastered it.

But why, you ask; isn’t this stuff supposed to be fun? According to Jeremy Allan, Brand Director of Bevmart, the trickiness comes down to a cocktail of history, culture, and personal preferences. There is also a dizzying amount of options out there these days – from sparkling to fortified, spirits, pre-batched, low alcohol; all with various subvarieties and flavours that may or may not match the tastes of the recipient. Does your head hurt yet? If you answered yes then congratulations; you are sane.

The rules of thumb are to know your recipient (a boss is different to a buddy, so your gift should reflect that status), do your research (don’t just select something you know nothing about – some tipples are harder to assess than others, and can be deceptive i.e. fancy bottle does not equal nice taste) and packaging matters (think decorative labels or gift sets with glassware).

Now the basics are laid down, let’s get down to navigating some of the trickiest gift-giving scenarios you’re likely to encounter:

Dinner Parties
When you go to anyone’s house for dinner, don’t take a bottle that you expect to drink that night, take them something they can tuck away and enjoy on their own time. It shouldn’t be lavish or ostentatious, a nice bottle of red wine or pre-batched bottled cocktails are always good options. Plus, everyone likes a glass of pinot and an Espresso Martini or Margarita; so it’s a safe bet all round.

Your Boss
Buying a gift for your boss comes down to tact: can you choose something that doesn’t feel like ass-kissery, but is still kind of ass-kissery? It’s a fine line to walk between an outright bribe and thoughtful present. It goes without saying, don’t give your boss something cheap, it doesn’t send a great message. But at the same time, don’t give them something incredibly expensive. Opt for an elegant bottle of wine or a premium spirit, added points if it comes with glassware.

Birthday Presents
Friends can be notoriously difficult to shop for. There’s the friend who’s already bought themself everything. The friend with mercurial tastes. The friend who insists that “believe me, I’m happy with nothing at all”, as if that’s a viable option. So – the first step is to obviously assess what the birthday celebrant likes, then look for a new, interesting, or limited-edition version to make it special. Adding something extra can make your gift more memorable – such as a nice set of monogrammed glasses – it’s additional work, but will earn you brownie points, which you may or may not cash in later.

Weddings & Anniversaries
No one wants to put a price on love. But there’s only so much a person can reasonably tender. It’s a sliding scale based on what you can give and how close you are to the couple, you should also consider what the couple has spent on you and try to match them. Vintage sparkling wine and champagne are the gold standards of gifting alcohol for weddings and anniversaries. If you want to impress the recipient, find a bottle that matches the year significant to their celebration. Add-ons like small wine glasses and champagne flutes are acceptable but the alcohol should be the star of the show.

Christmas Time
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, so they say. But in reality, it’s a nightmare of parties, events and of course, the obligatory presents. Yes, the festive season is about giving not receiving. Seasonal is the best way to go when it comes to finding a holiday gift, especially with alcohol. Consider food pairings when making your choice; Christmas in Australia is best celebrated with lighter, more refreshing choices. Fortunately, you need not break the bank here – mid-priced and value are still fine but avoid buying run-of-the-mill and common brands.

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