A sommelier answers his most-asked question

Adam Arlen

, Happy Hour
By Adam Arlen
Club Sommelier, The Peninsula Club


I have been asked this one question more times than I can remember. “Help!! I was invited to a dinner party. What should I bring for the host?” Well, my answer is this: It depends. How well do you know them?



If it is a friend of a friend who you really don’t know, you can’t go wrong with a great bottle of Spanish Cava. It is made using the same method that the way-more-expensive Champagnes from France follow. Specifically, look for Codorníu. That house started Cava production in 1872 and is the second largest producer of sparkling wine in the world. You should be able to pick up a bottle for under $20.

If you have played golf or tennis together a few times and met their spouse once or twice, get on the bourbon train. A nice bottle of bourbon is a great thank you for dinner. Don’t even bother trying to track down a bottle of Blanton’s. It is not going to happen. Instead, go for John J. Bowman 10-year-old single barrel. It won “World’s Best Bourbon” at the 2017 World Whiskies Awards and will only set you back $50.

Those two situations are easy. Now the hard part: close friends. You know what they like to drink and you don’t want to blow your wine budget on a single bottle of wine as a gift. If they are California Cab drinkers, Reynolds Family Cabernet is the way to go. Just off the Silverado Trail in the heart of the Oak Knoll District in Napa Valley, Reynolds Family is a small family-owned winery that makes amazing wines that won’t break the budget. Expect to pay around $70 for the Napa Cabernet that is ready to drink when it is released. The splurge bottle is the Stag’s Leap District Cabernet. This 100% Cabernet comes from the Annapurna Vineyard in a collectable bottle that will age gracefully for years to come. Expect to pay $125.

For the Pinot Noir drinker, Papapietro Perry is a small operation in Russian River Valley specializing in small, single vineyard bottlings. They make ten different Pinots, and my favorite is the Leras Family Vineyard in Russian River. Pretty, high-toned red fruit with just a splash of spice is the signature style of the valley. Expect to pay $75.

As always, remember that your friendly wine professionals are always here to help get the best bottle for you!

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