What to give, what to bring? Expert advice on bottles to share with your host and hostess.

It always seems to happen the same way: You are heading to a holiday party, and you realize at the last minute that you’re about to arrive empty handed. No scented candle, no pecan pie, not even crudité.

Usually, wine and alcohol are highly appreciated and convenient host gifts, but giving mediocre booze to your friends and family is no way to spread the holiday spirit. So we asked two local beverage pros to give us their top recommendations.

Gift: A bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne
Recommended by: Ty Fulcher, owner and sommelier at Social in Fort Collins

Bubbles are obligatory during the holiday season, prepping your palate for a rich meal and adding a certain sophistication to any party. “Bubbles are always a guaranteed success, and I’m not talking a cheap bottle of cava,” Fulcher says. “These are your friends, so spoil them a little. Go with true Champagne.” While most good Champagnes come with shockingly high price tags, this bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier shouldn’t cost you more than $60.

Gift description: Fulcher describes this Champagne as “creamy and silky in texture. You can always trust that this wine will have plenty of white peach, citrus and a wonderful toasty character that is reminiscent of Champagnes at much higher price points.”

Gift: A bottle of Hess Select Cabernet
Recommended by: Hillary Siebels, wine consultant at Skosh Wine and wine sales rep for Breakthru Beverage

Is “under $20” your only requirement for a host gift? There is no shame in thriftiness, especially this time of year. Siebels offers you a go-to bottle for all your affordable wine-giving needs: An easy-to-find, delicious-to-drink cabernet from the North Coast of California that will only cost you around $15. “It’s an impressive wine that won’t break the bank,” she says. “It’s a great bang for the buck and will make any wine drinker happy.”

Gift description: “This cabernet is medium bodied with aromas of red raspberry and dark cherry,” Siebels says. Drinkers will enjoy flavors of raspberry and black cherry, followed with notes of currants, anise, cloves, cedar and a touch of vanilla.

Gift: A bottle of Suerte Reposed
Recommended by: Ty Fulcher, owner and sommelier at Social in Fort Collins

Sure, tequila isn’t a traditional holiday beverage, but maybe it should be. It’s warming, spicy and perfect for sipping on a snowy winter’s eve. Plus, your tequila-swilling buddy will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Fulcher opts for Suerte, which is owned by “two incredible guys out of Boulder — a small town south of Fort Collins that houses a small college that no one has ever heard of — but produced in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.” The reposado is made with 100 percent blue weber agave and is double distilled.

Gift description: “After aging for seven months in charred American oak whiskey barrels, it enters the bottle with boastful notes of butterscotch, caramelized yellow apple and oak,” Fulcher says. “It’s perfect for sipping, shooting or throwing it into your favorite cocktail.”

Gift: A bottle of Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling
Recommended by: Hillary Siebels, wine consultant at Skosh Wine and wine sales rep for Breakthru Beverage

You have those friends—we all have those friends—who consider themselves to be wine experts, and it becomes a painstaking chore to find a bottle that impresses them, let alone surprises them. This Riesling should do the trick. “The Trimbach family has been making wine since 1626, so you could say they have it figured out,” Siebels says. The recent vintages have been consistently good, but “if you can find the 2009, it’s a must buy.”

Gift description: If you know one thing about Riesling, you know it’s sweet. However, Siebels says this bottle proves that stereotype false. “In fact, the majority of Riesling around the world is actually dry,” Siebels. “This wine forever changed my perception of Riesling, and I put it at the top of one of my favorite grapes.”

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