Second bottles 3 of 4

            Past two columns have been about “second bottle” wine—stuff that is easily drinkable but not “you must try this” discoveries.

First column focused on wines to pour after you poured good and now want to follow with affordable offerings you do not have to hide behind a grease-stained brown paper bag.

Then we visited values that will fool friends into thinking your trust fund or lottery ticket paid off.

This week: you are party host. Your pillaging horde of friends expect libation. Your accountant and your spouse trade gimlet-eye looks and use terms like “prudence” and “budgetary restraint” and “do not repeat the mistake you made last year.”

How do you party semi-cheap and avoid coming across as a vino yokel? Ever helpful, this column gallops to your rescue.

Strategy one: have guests bring bottles. Ultimate money saver. They bring lower-end examples of what they enjoy and everyone has a good time. You still must buy some wine, because guests will arrive with one bottle and drink more. Refer to previous columns for buying suggestions.

Strategy two: buy cheap bubbly. André sparkling wine is U.S. best-selling sparkling because E.J. Gallo’s product is roughly the price of boutique bottled water at $5 (even less when you buy by the case). Granted, it is not a best seller because it is sparkling expression of the vintner’s art. But, buy a bunch, serve really cold, encourage people to be rowdy. Designate drivers. Have taxi service on speed dial.

Strategy three: OK, André is too déclassé for your image. Even your parsimonious spouse winced when you suggested it. Go with cava. Freixenet (pronounced “fresh-eh-net”) is the black-bottle bubbly equivalent of Saudi Arabia when it comes to méthode champenoise (traditional, French method) wine. It will cost you couple of dollars more–but, hey, this is what true friends do for each other. Buy a variety of Freixenet offerings–don’t just go for brut. Remember “extra dry” is sweeter than brut. Doesn’t make sense, whatever.

Strategy four: serve wine your cousin-in-law concocted in his diesel-scented garage while he was on disability from the chainsaw accident. It will demonstrate your love of family and might score points with your spouse. It will create an obligation for others to invite you to their party, where they can point out they serve better wine. Hey—always looking out for you, faithful readers. Got your back.