A nice bottle of wine is always a perfect gift for a host or hostess. We have all seen the velvet wine bags sold in stores these days — they’re nice, but they lack individuality. Even worse are the plastic or foil bags that your liquor store will offer. Don’t do it!  A few years ago, I created a wine bouquet that can be wrapped around any bottle of wine, which I use when bringing wine as a gift. It takes a little time, but people do stop and notice this charming way of presenting a bottle of wine, and your host or hostess will feel especially appreciated.

Let’s start with the basics. You’re going to need a bottle of wine. How should you go about selecting a wine? If you know what your host or hostess prefers that’s great. If you don’t, I firmly believe in asking the experts. While I am a wine fan, I am by no means an authority! Try to find out what your host or hostess will be serving and tell the wine merchant for an appropriate recommendation. If not, an aperitif or dessert wine is always an appreciated option. Tell the merchant your budget, and find out what’s on sale. Do not get intimidated or manipulated into spending more than your budget. A good wine merchant will be able to work with you. 

What you need for this project:
“¢ A bottle of wine “¢ raffia”¢ garden twine “¢ moss (regular or Spanish moss, available at any garden center or craft shop) “¢ evergreen clippings – from your yard or garden center “¢ decorative ribbon 1 å_ inches wide

Steps to a wine bottle bouquet:
The secret to making a killer wine bouquet is to add the different elements one at a time. This allows you to “build” the bouquet off the wine bottle easily, and makes sure that it is secure.

1. Take the bottle and place it on its side, label facing up. A sMARt tip: to keep the bottle from rolling, place it between two large books.

2. Take the garden twine and tie a knot tightly at the top of the neck of the bottle, just under the rim, with the knot in the front. The front is the side with the label. We will build the bouquet from here.

3. Gather together a small bouquet of evergreen clippings in a variety of textures and colors. Place the bouquet on top of the neck of the bottle. The stems of the bouquet should be on top of the knot and extend down the neck of the bottle about three inches. We will trim them later. Attach the bouquet by tying the garden twine over the tops of the stems with a knot to secure the bouquet to the bottle.

4. Once you have secured the bouquet, crisscross the two ends of the twine around the back of the bottle neck and then back around to the front again. (Think of a ballerina lacing her shoes up her leg.) When at the front of the bottle again — you should be at the base of the neck — tie another knot in the front to secure the ends of the stems. Now trim the stems that fall below this knot.

5. Place a bit of decorative moss, a little smaller than the size of your palm — over this knot, and tie the twine around it to secure it. I prefer to use Spanish moss as it has a whimsical, organic look.

6. You can now add seasonal greenery, such as holly, small flowers, a pinecone, or brightly colored autumn leaves. A small bouquet such as this is often referred as a nosegay. This is a great opportunity to recycle the flowers from a wilting bouquet that still have some spunk left in them as the wine bouquet is designed to last for a day or so, depending upon your choice of flowers. Simply lay them on the moss and tie another knot with the garden twine. Tie a small knot at the end of the twine and trim off the excess.

7. Now for the ribbon. Cut a piece of decorative 1 å_ inch ribbon about 16 to 20 inches long. This will serve to hide the stems and secure the whole bouquet to the bottle. Wrap it over the seasonal greenery and tie a bow about 4-5 inches wide leaving 3 to 4 inches for the ends. Trim the ends. I prefer pinking shears.

8. And for that final touch, I love to add a raffia bow tied in the center of the ribbon knot. Leave a bit of excess hanging down. A sMARt tip: if the raffia ends touch the top of the wine label it will be in proportion. 

With a few adjustments to what you choose to use for your bouquet, you can make this gift technique seasonal or specific to any occasion. I love discovering what’s currently blooming in my garden and adding it as the top layer. Always remember to build with evergreen clippings on the bottom, adding flowers or decorative accents next with your bow and raffia last.
In time you will master the wine bottle bouquet, making it the perfect and only way to give a bottle of wine.

Since many times the host or hostess may be busy welcoming other guests when you arrive at their home, write your name on the label along with a small message of thanks. It’s a lovely touch and ensures the host or hostess knows whom to thank for the thoughtful creation. Even if the recipient is too busy to take notice, when you arrive others will jealously want to know who offered you this clever presentation.

Practice makes perfect, so have fun with the learning curve and enjoy the process. Once you start, you can never go back to giving a bottle of wine any other way.

And there you have it.