The host/ess gift — that clever, useful, often consumable something that you take to a formal-ish party to say thank you for dealing with the catering, bartender, and cleanup so that we can stand around and make small talk once a year — has been back in vogue for some time now, but it seems no one sent a memo to the under-40 set. A shame, because it’s the equivalent of etiquette jujitsu. If you select well, you’ll feel psychologically armed as you enter the home of your significant other’s crucially important business partner you barely know — and for good reason: No matter how many times you stick that gilded foot of yours in your mouth, the next day all your recovering hosts will remember is that you’re the thoughtful guest who brought the hair of the dog — or, even better, a handy host/ess regift for the obligatory important cocktail party they have to attend that evening.
Becker Vineyards wine
Becker’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve took a gold medal at the 2008 San Antonio Wine Festival, but the Vintage Port, Malbec, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc have all received critical nods, too, and the Current’s Omniboire loved the 2005 Les Trois Dames Claret. Take a little roadtrip to the Hill Country winery’s gift shop, and bundle a bottle with a lavender guest soap or eye pillow, and truffles filled with liquid Becker centers. Prices vary.
(830) 644-2681, beckervineyards.com
Al’s Gourmet Nuts
The Current sampled Al’s lavender pecans at this year’s Totally Tejas event and hasn’t been able to stop thinking about them since. More traditional nut-flavor combos include Cinnamon Pecans, Honey Pecans, and, coincidentally, Becker Port Wine Pecans. Bonus: Easy to ship if you’re afterthoughtful. $6-$43. (210) 822-9121, alsgourmetnuts.com
Southern Star Brewery Pine Belt Pale
A perfect choice for the game-day party, Southern Star’s Pine Belt is top-notch, delivering on the brewer’s promise of “piney and citrusy, `with` a nice malt background.” Look for it at Whole Foods, or contact Southern Star at (936) 441-BREW or southernstarbrewery.com.
Paula’s Texas Orange Liqueur
Since the Current discovered this Lone Star limoncello descendant last year, it’s become our mainstay orange note for sidecars, margaritas, and any other appropriate cocktail. The flavor is true and not too sweet. Call (512) 636-6389 or visit paulastexasorange.com for a list of San Antonio outlets.
Saldaña’s Kitchen Jalapeño
or Serrano Hot Sauce
The farm-fresh peppers, tomatoes, and onions in Saldana’s salsas hail from Natalia, Texas, and they’re augmented with little other than salt and water, which is why they taste so pure. They’re hot, yes, but the pepper shines through on tacos, brisket, chips — anything you care to pour them on. Approx. $5 for 16 ounces. Available at the Olmos Basin Farmers Market, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays through December 13. Or call (830) 665-6129.