You will never get me to say on the record that I don’t love a nice bottle of wine wrapped up in foil and presented to me by dinner guests. I mean, come on, that’s just crazy. But I am going on the record to say something that has never been said before. (Except maybe by me, I think, six years ago in Real Simple…wish I could find that link.) Here goes: When it comes to host gifts Olive Oil should be the New Wine. I mean, think about it: When you get a bottle of wine as a host, generally, you drink it that night or at some point within the week and generally, you sort of forget who gave it to you. The gift of wine is a wonderful gesture — I’m not saying it’s not — it’s just that olive oil can sometimes be more wonderful. Because it usually catches you by surprise and because it can be stretched out for weeks, forcing you to remember the giver’s generosity every time you make a homemade vinaigrette or a eat a bowl of Sunday Minestrone, which demands a high-quality drizzle upon serving.
A few of my favorites to give and get: Grove (shown above, $32-$45); McEvoy Ranch (from $23); Frankie’s Spuntino ($18); Pasolivo (From $24) and Volpaia ($28). You could also just take a stroll through your favorite market and see what looks good. (Whole Foods has tons of options.) A few things to look for before you purchase: You want the words “extra virgin” on the label, but don’t worry about “cold pressed” which nowadays means next to nothing; Dark, opaque bottles generally signify quality. (The good ones know that light and heat can be damaging.) Look for a date stamp — you don’t want to buy oil that’s more than a year old. Also, it doesn’t hurt to buy something pretty. It is a gift after all.