Sunday, December 27, 2009

Regifting...Really A Bad Thing?

I was up way too early the other morning watching some, on-at-the-ass-crack, morning program on MSNBC and they were discussing the most regifted holiday gift…wine, it was wine. At first this sent a little pang to my heart, both because I hate to hear any negative slant on my beloved beverage and as someone that works in a retail wine store, during hash economic times no less, well we don’t want to hear anything that may discourage people from coming to us for their holiday gift giving needs, but something interesting happened the longer I listened. One of the talking heads was saying that she often regifts bottles of white wine she’s given, (don’t even get me started on those red wines only people…um, does not make you cool or more knowledgeable, makes you short sighted and drinking like a newbie. I hear that and I already know what kind of wine, “drinker” I’m dealing with…crusty. These are the same people that adore Champagne but hate white wine…um, stop it. Like the guy that won’t drink Sancerre, (white wine being fruity and for the ladies and all) but loves Paso Zinfandel…dude, shall we check the residual sugars? But I digress) and the guy she was talking to said that he often regifted red wines as he prefers white.

Now aside from my head splitting apart from the whole, “who drinks what” thing, something occurred to me, so if you gift a wine to someone that does not like that type of wine, would you rather them drink it because you want them to, or help them solve a gift giving problem but using the gift to please another? Is not the ultimate goal to please? In this kind of regifting situation you have pleased two people, the receiver that was in a gift giving bind and the eventual recipient of the bottle you purchased…that’s all good right? I’ve had people come in the shop and say things like, “I want to get them a bottle of wine but I don’t want them to just give it away”…never quite understood why people are so concerned about what happens once their gift is given, seems a tad controlling and just a smidge arrogant to me…the way in which they receive pleasure from your gift should be of no interest, just that did in fact enjoy it right? I know I have, "enjoyed" giving away a bottle or two of Rombauer Chardonnay I was guilt in letting it whither on my kitchen counter, placing it in the hands of someone I know will adore it...well, hell that's a win win for me!

So it just so happens I was given two amazing gifts of wine this year, a case of older French wine and a bunch of older, cult-ish California wines. The thing that struck me about these gifts was that they were more than bottles of wine, they were treasures that had been saved, tucked away, cherished. Wines that someone had purchased, (or was given for all I know) and that they had laid down, resisted and waited to savor….time, within my gifted boxes of wine I was given the gift of time. What’s the going rate on time and patience these days? Um, I’m going to have to say priceless. The fact that two people felt their time and patience was worth sending to me…um, speechless, left me speechless. How does one say thank you for such a thing?

So as I sat fondling my bottles, (yes…yes I did, total dork I know) I started thinking of when, where and with whom I might share these newly acquired treasures. See the thing is, a bottle of wine is more than a beverage, it’s an experience. The right bottle, on the right night, with the right person/people and that bottle can be elevated to legendary status. The, “Oh my Gawd do you remember that wine” and “If it hadn’t been for that bottle of (insert name of super special wine here) I would have never, (insert whatever naughty behavior here)”.

Even if the bottle becomes one of those, pop while cooking dinner after a long day bottles. The way that first sip can wiggle down your spine, soothe each and every little ache, steal your thoughts from the mundane daily doings, coax you into a mellow, soft shouldered state….a seduction of sorts. Touching you, caressing, dancing across your day weary palate…bringing much needed, much longed for pleasure after a long hard day at work….um, would you really give a crap where the person that was responsible for this….feeling, got the bottle? I for one wouldn’t, just the fact that they saw fit to share it with me….

Buy them, tuck them away, share them, give them away but know that whoever is lucky enough to eventually pop those corks will think you’re quite generous and be very grateful for the….experience.


vickibarkley said...

OK, I'm a little buzzy, and it's late, but.....

Gifts of wine are a lovely thing indeed. Even bottles I (think) I don't like, sometimes, like this past Christmas, turn into bottles I will remember forever.

And, your description of what wine does for you at the end of a long day, yes indeed, true dat.

Thanks for your writing. I love reading you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Speaking as the drunk girl, (ahem still iz by the way) that wrote this piece of crap post....thank you! I raise my glass number, "I'm so not tellin" to you and toast buzzy girls the world over. Shit no wonder dudes dig us this forgiving.

Sara Louise said...

I couldn't agree more with your line about, the way that people get pleasure from the gift received should be of no interest. Well said! As long as pleasure is received, that's the point after all :-)

Puff Daddy said...

If I had a bottle of wine that would produce a bunch of buzzy, toasty girls, I would not regift it. Otherwise, who needs it?

It is not my business, or any of ours frankly, to tell people what they should like or not like, but it does bug me to hear people say things like "I don't drink red wine because it gives me a headache". Or, thinks that Shiraz is a great grape but does not like Syrah.

I worry that these people are beyond hope--or help.

But the notion of regifting almost anything bugs me a bit. OK, I will admit that the person who gave me brown socks for Christmas could just as easily have given me a lump of coal.

But, when someone sends a gift that it intended to deliver hedonistic pleasure, I think one ought to at least give the damn bottle a try. Sure, if it is something that you already find disappointing like Rombauer Chardonnay with its high residual sugar (why can Riesling have RS but Chard not?), and you know the wine gives you a headache just thinking about it, maybe.

But, I also got a big bottle of some spicy nuts that someone made up. OK, I may not eat them down to the last pecan but I owe the giver the chance to show me what she has wrought. I kind of feel the same way about wine. People who give me wine take a giant chance. If I know the wine and don't see any value in opening the bottle, they are stuck and so am I. But, if it is something I have not tried, even if the category is not one that owns my heart, I will always open the bottle. Or taste the nuts. Or give a try to the cornichon paste in a tube (that turned out, as feared, to have none of the zing of the real thing).

It is the giving and the intent behind it that creates a felt obligation in me. Even for Rombauer Chardonnay, which regardless of, or perhaps because of, its RS, goes perfectly well with many Thai and some Indian dishes, especially those with lots of coconut milk as part of their sauces.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Isn't regifting about being lazy AND cheap? If you knew a gift you'd received had been intended for someone else, how would you feel? Like leftovers?

So if you receive a bottle of wine you don't like, something with a cute animal on the label or an egregious pun for a name (Cabernet Francenstein or Vulva Clicquot), instead of regifting it, present it to the next poor soul you see on the street who looks like he/she could use a drink. Or, the next time you see the person who gave you the wine, make them share it with you to show your appreciation and to express your gratitude. That ought to teach them.

There's something creepy about regifting. Especially if you forget to remove the gift tag with your name on it.

I'd never never regift YOU. You're all mine.

I adore you!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Otay, looks like girls against dudes here. Sheesh and they say chicks are sensitive...leftovers? Ouch. Persoanlly I never ask or even think about where a gift I was given came from, that's not the point is it? Should we not just be grateful for anything we are given and the fact that someone felt they wanted to share something...anything with us?

Dunno maybe coming from a background where gifts were very rare things I just don't get it. I am just so moved each and every time I am given anything...even a freaking card can make my heart swell...should I now start wondering if that card came from some previously selected box of cards, therefore not selected just for me on just this occasion? What a sad, "prove to me what I'm worth" way to think...not for me, not at all. I'll just get pleasure from being thought of at all.....

By the way, welcome Sara!

John M. Kelly said...

I have no problem with re-gifting, especially wine. Even MY wines. I figure sooner or later a bottle is going to fall into the hands/mouth of someone who really loves it like it deserves, and that person is going to look us up online, or call me, and I'm going to point them to my favorite wine shop in their area - sounds like a win, win, win, win to me.

On a side note, it's time for New Year's resolutions and so I'm going to ask everyone guilty of it to STOP mentioning Rombauer Chardonnay, even disparagingly. Gawd in heaven - just IGNORE the stuff! With every mention you summon the devil. Just ignore it and hopefully it will go away.

Samantha Dugan said...

Good point, will not call on the evil spirits of grossly fucked with Chardonnay again.
On a side note, I've missed you!