The Best Bottles of Wine (and Booze) for Every Holiday Party, at Every Budget

Marisel Salazar The Best Bottles of Wine (and Booze) for Every Holiday Party, at Every Budget

3 minute Read

The holidays are expensive, especially for those both popular and polite enough to never attend a party empty-handed. Fortunately, being a (conscientious) social butterfly doesn’t have to be prohibitively pricey. The perfect host or hostess gift might be an offbeat sparkler, affordable Napa Valley crowd-pleaser, or well-chosen spirit (bonus points for bringing the mixer, too).

Feel free to RSVP yes to every fête, festival, gala, and hangout on your calendar this holiday season, armed with a budget-friendly bottle of wine, bubbly, or booze. Here are nine surefire ways to get a return invite next year.

Budget: Under $20


Charles Krug 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Charles Krug 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (St. Helena)

Nothing can compete with a classic. If you’re in a panic about what bottle of wine to graciously slip into your host’s hands, make it an agreeable variety from one of America’s pioneering wine families. While Chardonnay can be divisive, Sauvignon Blanc is classic without being boring. This bottle has a bit of classic Napa tropical fruit, but also plenty of lemon and grapefruit citrus, plus lovely minerality. It pairs beautifully with most passed apps, including veggie dishes and seafood. Average price: $18.

Mood: interesting but accessible


Rotari Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine

Be the person at the party who brings the holiday sparkle — in drinkable, affordable form. Made the same way as Champagne,  from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, this Trentodoc Italian sparkling wine brings big taste without the similarly sized price tag. Its bubbly notes of berries and pineapple make it the perfect, ice-breaking aperitif for mingling at the start of a party. Average price: $18.

You’re bringing a conversation piece



This luxurious French liqueur is an unusual, surprisingly versatile addition to any home bar. It’s packed with enough black raspberry flavor to completely transform festive cocktails like the Kir Royale, and it comes with a gold crown that demands to be put on display. Best of all, it’s made with 100 percent natural, GMO-free, organic ingredients. (Now that’s something to celebrate.) Average price: from $16.99 for 375 ml.

Budget: $20 to $40


Charles Krug 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

William Fèvre Chablis ‘Domaine’ 2017

This fresh, fruity Chablis from William Fèvre, one of the most well-known domaines in the French wine region, enlivens any gathering. It’s smart and attractive — like the ideal party guest — with bracing minerality. It goes well with grilled fish, oysters, and sushi. Average price: $22.

Mood: interesting but accessible

Valle Dell’ Acate Il Frappato 2017

Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato 2017

Feeling shy? This fun, friendly Sicilian red will get people talking. It’s a modern take on Pinot Noir, with cherry and strawberry notes and silky tannins. It hails from the southern Sicily DOC, Vittoria, and pairs with classic party appetizers like fresh and aged cheeses and salamis. Average price: $20

You’re bringing a conversation piece

Croft 430th Anniversary

Croft 430th Anniversary Reserve Ruby

Yes, you are bold enough to bring Port to a party. Smooth enough to be mixed into drinks at a cocktail party, or sipped with dessert at a dinner, this show-stopping bottle comes from the oldest Port house in the world, founded in 1588. It’s especially ideal on it’s own after a meal, with a rich cheese plate or nibble of dark chocolate. Average price: $24.

Budget: $40 and up


Aperture 2016

Aperture 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Show your host that your wine knowledge goes beyond the price tag with an elegant and thoughtful red sourced from four hillside sites in the Alexander Valley. This New World Cabernet Sauvignon displays powerful aromas of fruit and tobacco backed up by stunning acidity and silky tannins — a show-stopping Cabernet for your holiday party or Thanksgiving feast. Goes well with red meats like beef or venison. Average price: $76.

Mood: interesting but accessible


Geoffroy ‘Empreinte’ Premier Cru Brut 2009

An incredible value, this grower Champagne from single-vintage Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunieur is guaranteed to impress. Celebratory without being stodgy, and made by father-son duo René and Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, this Champagne has fresh, fruity, and floral notes. Best of all? It pairs with just about everything. Average price: $58.

You’re bringing a conversation piece

1792 Bourbon Whiskey

1792 Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Be bold and bring bourbon to your holiday fête. This Kentucky bourbon whiskey won top prize at the World Whiskies 2018, and is sure to impress those tired of sipping lukewarm Chardonnay. A single barrel whiskey, it has sweet butterscotch, ginger, and Fuji apple notes, and a warm clove finish. The price is so reasonable, you can even buy a bottle for yourself, too. Average price: $43.

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