Who has time to make an extra trip for hostess gifts? Try one of these foodie tricks using products that are all available at your local supermarket.
Hostess gifts from the supermarket; a newbie’s guide to bubbly; and the one ingredient your guacamole needs
1 stock their pantry
Splurge on a pricier bottle of olive oil ($25 will get you something special) and pair it with a fancy vinegar. Then use a festive ribbon to attach a card with your favorite salad dressing recipe—practical and thoughtful!
2 raise their spirits
Know the host’s preferred red? Pick it up along with a festive wine stopper. Or if she’s more of a cocktail person, gather the fixings for a Moscow mule or a Bloody Mary and add a handwritten recipe and note.
3 flavor their food
Good salt makes everything better. You can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of plain sea salt. But try looking for a flavor she might not usually buy for herself—smoked, sriracha, or truffle—so it feels extra special.
4 make their breakfast
Nothing’s worse than waking up after a party with nothing to eat. Help out your host with a morningafter breakfast bundle: a bottle of good maple syrup, pancake mix, and gourmet coffee.
When you think of bubbles, Champagne is probably what comes to mind. It’s also the spendiest of the fizzy bunch: Bottles start around $30 and go up (and up and up). Strict production rules are behind the price tag: The grapes must be from the Champagne region of France and undergo two fermentation periods in the bottle. Then the wine has to age in the bottle for at least 15 months for nonvintage Champagne and at least three years for vintage. BUY Jean Vesselle Brut Réserve (about $40) is a steal for the quality. And the crisp, lemony Guy Larmandier Cramant Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs (about $61) is a great special-occasion bottle, best shared among friends.
If you want bubbles on more of a beer budget, this Spanish drink uses the same wine-making method as the French stuff. But because it’s less well-known and the climate in Spain makes it cheaper to grow grapes, it’s a sliver of the price. BUY Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut (about $10) is great for serving a crowd. The palest possible pink with a hint of cranberry and a super-dry finish, Raventós i Blanc de Nit Rosé 2016 (about $26) is worthy of your fanciest stemware.
This fruity Italian sparkler doesn’t mind if you drink it out of a plastic cup and end up with a lampshade on your head. Like Champagne, Prosecco can come from only a certain region in Europe (in this case, northeastern Italy). It’s made using the Charmat (or Italian) fermentation method, which is speedier but yields bubbles that will go flat more quickly. So drink up! BUY Zardetto DOC Brut NV (about $17) pairs well with cookies (and Netflix) and is perfect to use in sparkling punches. Sorelle Bronca Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Extra Dry
(about $22) has a delicious note of spiced pear that you’ll want to savor.