Maybe this sounds familiar: You’re invited to someone’s home for drinks or a dinner party. “What can I bring?” you ask the host, being the well-mannered individual that you are. “Oh, I don’t know, a bottle of wine would be great,” he or she says.
So, what do you bring? Here, our editors weigh in on their secret weapons. These are the wines that are affordable, pair-able and—above all—can please a crowd. Grab a bottle for a party, and keep one for when it’s your turn to host.
“Santo Wines Santorini Assyrtiko is unique and terroir-driven, but also pleases most palates. The volcanic soil of Santorini gives it a briny, clean and brisk character, with a spin of citrus rind. It’s easy to drink on its own, but it’s a fantastic and versatile food wine as well.” —Susan Kostrzewa, executive editor
“There’s no such thing as the wrong time or place for a bottle of bubbles. That’s why Roederer Estate Brut is my go-to choice as a host gift and to have on hand in my fridge. To me, it’s the best nonvintage sparkling wine in California for consistency, complexity, richness and drinkability. The price has gone up just a few dollars in 20 years, and the wine’s sophistication has continued to grow since I took a case of it to a friend’s millennium celebration on New Year’s Eve, 1999.” —Jim Gordon, contributing editor
“My ace in the hole is Finger Lakes Riesling. Riesling can be a divisive, love-it-or-hate-it wine, but I find that a racy, dry style like Empire Estate’s 2016 Dry Riesling can sway many palates in favor of these fruity yet crisp offerings. Party-goers want something that is easy to sip but also food friendly, and this wine fits the bill. It also doesn’t hurt that there are many quality Finger Lakes offerings under $20 per bottle.” —Alexander Peartree, tasting director
“I turn to sparkling wines from the Languedoc, specifically Blanquette de Limoux, whether as a formal present, a host gift or something to stock up on for entertaining. Wallet friendly, tasty, versatile and festive, these wines come with a bit of a story, too. They’re rumored to predate Champagne and are primarily made from the Mauzac grape, which is indigenous to the South of France. For those who like a bit of sweetness to their bubbles, look for one that includes the words Méthode Ancestrale.” —Lauren Buzzeo, managing editor
“I often get asked to name my favorite wine. That’s an impossible task. But there is one style I tend to reach for on my way out the door to a party. That’s an Oregon Pinot Noir rosé. Why? Because it’s unexpected in so many ways. Many people don’t even realize there is such a wine, and despite the enormous popularity of rosés these days, the ones from Oregon remain insider wines. They are enormously versatile with food, unintimidating at a campsite or backyard party, complicated enough for a Thanksgiving spread, and they deliver quality far beyond their modest prices.”—Paul Gregutt, contributing editor
Last Updated: May 4, 2023