“Never show up empty-handed”. Like a record spins and tells its story over and over, this phrase has been uttered in loops from parents trying to teach their children the importance of good manners. Now, as adults, those children have realised that a bottle of wine pleases both hosts and parents, as a wonderful gesture to show your thanks. But choosing a wine can be difficult, especially when you are scrambling at the last minute. So do yourself a favour, take some advice from our sommeliers and always have a bottle or two handy for gifting.
Kevin Lu, Buenos Aires Polo Club
Champagne is a marvellous gift to celebrate any kind of occasion. Vilmart & Cie is one of my absolute go-to’s to showcase good taste with a beautiful, long-tasting mousse and delicate citrus and floral notes. It is elevated and buoyant, and a great bottle to bring to a party. It pairs beautifully with light, white fish and crustaceans and has a lively acidity and an aromatic character that will really wow the crowd.
Arnaud Bardary, BELON
Wine is subjective and preferences are built on many elements from personal taste to food pairings. To make it easier, a bottle of Champagne is always a winner. Champagne goes with every occasion: you can start in the morning or toast to the evening with a bottle over dinner. It is also an extremely dynamic gift as it pairs with so many dishes throughout the meal, from starters to dessert. If you are planning on opening your bottle over a dinner party you are attending, then be confident in your own tastes. Bring a wine you have recently discovered or a bottle you know your friends might not try on their own. This will open up conversations and being able to try something new usually makes everyone happy.
Chiara Vezzani, Carbone
I like to switch things up and bring something a little more unexpected, perhaps a bottle that the host has not tried before or would not venture into on their own. One of my absolute favourites is from the acclaimed Abrigo family who have been tending vineyards for generations. Located in the world-famous Langhe area of the Piedmont Region, the winery is most revered for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines. My choice is Orlando Abrigo “Mervisano” Barbera d’Alba DOC 2011, a deep, bright purplish-red with a spicy and fruity nose. It is a full-bodied wine with tiny hints of vanilla due to oak barrel ageing. Barbera wine is so easy to fall in love with given its freshness and complexity and pairs beautifully with juicy meat skewers or can be enjoyed solely by sipping on a Hong Kong summer evening.
Michael Tully, Buenos Aires Polo Club
Sparkling wine is my go-to for dinner parties, as it pairs well with a variety of foods and has a majority appeal. If you want quality wine at a mid-range price point, I would recommend the Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV Champagne. It is a classic bottle with a conversation-starting back story: Sir Winston Churchill was famed for drinking a bottle a day and in his honour, Pol Roger named their top Cuvee after him. Who does not love a gift with an added anecdote?
Another spectacular option is Nyetumber NV from West Sussex in England. This is a personal favourite and a welcome surprise from England, which has recently begun producing exceptional sparkling wines to rival its French neighbour. Bringing a bottle that guests may not have tried before is a sure-fire way to initiate discussion and move a dinner party forward.
William Mountford, Carbone
I have a pair of go-to wines for dinner parties. For a white, my preference is usually Gini ‘Contrata Salvarenza’ Vecchie Vigne Soave Classico, from one of the oldest producers in Soave Classico who have pioneered making exceptional wines without adding sulphur. The grapes are hand-picked from 100-year-old vines, ungrafted to produce a tiny amount of perfect fruit. The level of excellence and delicacy used to harvest the grapes results in a beautifully medium-bodied white wine that is complex and full of depth.
Alternatively, for dinner parties with a heavier menu, I reach for Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva “Vigna Elena”, a powerful, structured garnet-red produced from the first vineyard planted on the winery and named after the winemakers’ daughter. The Nebbiolo Rosé grapes create the most expressive aromas and tannins, with suggestions of warm spices and full, red fruits. This wine is a brilliant companion to rich pasta dishes, red meats and mature cheeses, making it a prime candidate for dinner parties, particularly in the colder months.