It’s par-tay time! I don’t know about you, but the holidays always seem to fly by with multiple events every week beginning with Thanksgiving all the way to New Years. Included in the madness are some events that we host ourselves. And while it’s easy to grab a few bottles of wine for the festivities, I (shockingly) know many who aren’t big fans of wine or alternatively want something super sweet that I don’t usually keep on hand. But even more, I always think it’s fun to mix things up as well as stretch my cash. In that vine, here are a few wine-based essentials for your next gathering.

*This post contains affiliate links as well as items submitted for review as disclosed below. All opinions are my own.

White Port

Just like its red sibling, white port is a fortified wine spirit from the Douro region of Portugal. There are several permitted varieties that can be used in white port production, but some of the most common include Código, Rabigato, Viosinho, Esgana Cão (aka Sercial) and Malvasia Fina. But unlike red port which is usually a great candidate for aging (sometimes decades), white ports are generally meant to be consumed young. White port is commonly consumed chilled as an aperitif, but also makes an excellent base for a cocktail. In fact, there is much to love about this under the radar wine-based spirit.

While certainly delicious on its own, my personal favorite is mixed with tonic (2 parts tonic to 1 part white port) with an orange slice. Similar to champagne, I like to begin a meal with this delicious concoction. But it also goes the distance at a party. I made this for a Portuguese wine class and it was a big hit. And for festive holiday parties, I like to garnish with a lime wedge and added a few frozen cranberries. Other popular cocktails for white port include the White Port Paloma, the Robert Frost cocktail, and whatever your imagination comes up with.

Cocktails with Warre’s White Porto

Recommendation: Warre’s White Port ($17)1 Comprised of Arinto, Código, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, and Viosinho is it delicate and smooth with nutty and fruity flavors. And widely available so the hunt should be easy.


Traditionally made in Italy and France, vermouth is a flavored, aromatized fortified wine. That’s a mouthful, but it is all of those things. Fortified (typically with brandy) and flavored with a variety of herbs, spices, and botanicals. Like White Porto, this wine spirit is full of versatility. It is an essential component of some old classics such as Manhattans, Martinis, Negronis, Gibsons, and Rob Roys to name a few, but today it is so much more. State of the art craft distilling techniques as well cocktail culture being as popular as ever, has led to a renewed interest in this classic mixer. And while historically a European creation, American vermouth is finally having its overdue moment.

Recommendation: T.W. Hollister Vermouth2

California-based T.W. Hollister company is at the forefront of the American vermouth movement and is tapping into a whole new American market with its sustainably-sourced and locally fortified vermouth.3 They produce two types of vermouth – a dry vermouth and a sweet red vermouth. Both begin life as a white wine and then are infused with local botanicals.

T.W. Hollister Vermouth

Oso de Oro Red Vermouth ($37)

“Italian style” red vermouth tends to be sweeter and is typically used in drinks such as Negronis and Manhattans. The T.W. Hollister red vermouth is infused with a unique blend of 19 botanicals (including blood orange, chamomile and hummingbird sage) and finished with organic caramel. It is mildly sweet, which provides a nice balance to the wine’s acidity. Complex with red fruits, floral, and herbaceous notes, it is great on its own as well as in a cocktail. I’d suggest enhancing the blood orange infusion by mixing with freshly squeezed blood orange juice.

Oso de Oro Dry Vermouth ($37)

Dry, “French style” vermouth is the type typically found in martinis – whether gin or vodka based. The T.W. Hollister dry vermouth is infused with a unique blend of 12 botanical ingredients. The herbs were more prominent with this vermouth accompanied by some orange peel and finishing with a bitter edge. While, tasty on its own as well as in a classic spritz, one of my fave concoctions is when it teams up with bourbon. I love this cocktail recipe from Whisky Advocate.

Whether you get some for a party, or gift to the hard to please wineaux that has everything, the T.W. Hollister vermouth will be a memorable choice. Available for purchase on the T.W. Hollister website.

Wine Minis

Mionetto Prosecco Minis

One of my favorite things to do for brunch is to offer a mimosa bar with a selection of mixers and various wines. Guests love crafting their own trendy drinks and I don’t have to play bartender or worry anyone someone who doesn’t like whatever I choose. Plus it’s fun to see what folks come up with. Sparkling wine minis aren’t always easy to find and when you do find them, they aren’t always economical.

Recommendation: Mionetto Prosecco. I love the Mionetto minis because they come in regular and rosé flavors, they are affordable, and they are widely distributed which makes them pretty easy to find. Plus, I also love to gift them as party favors.

Wine Popcorn

It’s like someone stepped into my brain and wanted to permanently put me in my happy place. The folks at Vinpop have created a line of wine flavored popcorn and sent me a few to try. Flavors include Champagne, Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. I mean, whole doesn’t like wine and popcorn?! And #winning when you put them together!

Vinpop Wine Flavored Popcorn

Made with real wine with a great balance of salty and sweet, it is also organic, vegan, and non-GMO. I had a fun time pairing this sweet and salty deliciousness with the namesake wines. Definitely a hit at any gathering, not to mention that Thing 2 took a liking to them. Vinpop can be obtained from Amazon (see flavors below) as well as from the Vinpop website.



Pinot Noir


Whether you’re in the mood for wine spirits, bubbly, or wine snacks, there are so many varied and interesting ways to experience vino aside from simply pouring yourself a glass. Not to mention that any of these make great gifts for hard to shop for wine lovers. Now off to prepare for the next gathering…

  1. Sample received for editorial consideration. All opinions are my own.
  2. Sample received for editorial consideration. All opinions are my own.
  3. Each bottle of their Oso de Oro vermouth is fortified using sustainably-sourced ingredients from their homeland of California – from wormwood found in the forests of Northern California, to berries and olives picked right in their own backyard on Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara.


  1. Jeremy Parzen
    5 years ago

    Need to try those Oso de Oro vermouths!

    1. Kat
      5 years ago

      This was my first experience with vermouth so didn’t know what to expect. But was pleasantly surprised, not to mention all the different uses for it.

  2. Patty
    5 years ago

    Now I know what do to with my white Port! Love the idea of the mimosa bar too 😘

    1. Kat
      5 years ago

      Ha ha! Happy to help. It was a big hit at my last event.


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