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ItÂs nice of you to ask. In my experience, non-drinkers will all to frequently buy the cheapest/sale stuff they can find because it all tastes the same to them.
The answer lies in the details of your party and guest list. I strongly recommend finding a trustworthy local liquor store and talk it over with the manager. Try to use a full service chain store with a good reputation.
I work in the business.
Get two bottles each of a $10-20 red and white wine. Try Starmont Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet.
Then grab a bottle of Bacardi, with some cokes, and a bottle of Gin with some limes and tonic water.
Finally, get a 12 pack of Corona with more limes.
This will cover most bases
Try some Bev Mo Jacobs Creek Shiraz "Reserve" and some Penfolds Shiraz or a blend. Also throw some Argentine Malbec in the mix. Hard to find a bad bottle. None expensive but solid wine. Average about 10-15/bottle. If you want some good stuff get the Molly Dooker " The Boxer" at 28/ bottle or Orrin Swifts " The Prisoner" a good one. If the occasion is big you can get some Pride Vineyard which is very good or Fontanella 2010 Zin, or the Damian Rae Shiraz or Pinot Noir. Avoid generic Pinots. Too many are just average.
For beer, I like it dark and the German and Belgians do a good job although the Irish and Guiness have their following. The Germans also do good lighter beer and Corona is popular, with a lime of course. Happy shopping, Jallen
Anything over $10-12 a bottle is only for parties with serious wine drinkers. You first need to know your guests. If that's not the case, then get some Sam Adams and a few bottles of Chilean or Argentine wines in the 8-12 buck range, 1/3 white to 2/3s red. Go to a wine shop, ask for suggestions and give them your price cap. Specific labels will vary from state to state, shop to shop. Skip the hard liquor. It's not a large enough group. People don't expect great wine, but they'll be very pleased (and surprised) if you serve something decent.
My 2 cents:
DinastÃa Vivanco, Rioja, Crianza. If you can find it a very very good spanish red wine. Not expensive, at least in Spain, 8Â at the supermarket.
Condado de Oriza, Ribera del Duero, Crianza. A very, very good and affordable red wine Ribera. Maybe 7Â at the supermarket.
White wines, two choices:
1.- Whatever "AlbariÃ±o" you can find in you country. You wonÂ´t get disappointed. These wines are a bit acid but fantastic ones.
2.- If youÂ´re on the "sweet or no acid" side, my recommendation goes to a decent "Ribeiro". Just be warned theyÂ´re very easy to drink and after of 3 to 4 glasses they go directly to your head, and everybody is loosening up.
Right now, IÂ´m favoring "Franziskaner" a wonderful german made beer with dense bubbles, especially the bottled ones vs the can ones.
+1 to Phaelon's suggestion w one caveat. I'd recommend an independently owned store (you should be able to get recommendations by googling around) and ask to speak to the manager. Don't be afraid to tell them your budget and let them make the choices; since you don't drink it, your tastes are kind of irrelevant. If you ask in advance, you may be able to arrange to return un-opened bottles, or you could use them for holiday gifts. You probably can also get a case price (10% off) even on a mixed case of wine, if that's the direction you are going to go.
FWIW, my recommendations are:
Whiskey- if you mean American there is not that much demand these days. If you mean Scotch, Dewar's is a good choice.
Bourbon- Maker's Mark or Wild Turkey or jack Daniels (not technically bourbon, but whatever).
Gin- Beefeaters or Tanquerey
Wine generally varies depending on what local importers and distributors carry, so go w the store's recommendations. If it's a holiday party, you might want to consider champagne. Korbel is a good California sparkling wine; and there are many good French sparkling wines that are less expensive because they do not come from the Champagne region and thus cannot be called Champagne under French law.
Beer- Sam Adams Boston Lager is a safe choice for a somewhat upscale beer and Corona or any of the Belgian style wheat ales (Blue Moon, etc) is good for those that want something a little lighter.
Sounds like you are a very considerate host. Have fun!
Good responses above, but an important factor that hasn't been addressed, which will influence people's drink selections, is the kind of food that is being served. It would be helpful if you could give us some idea of that.
Also, provided that it is a suitable match to the food, IME the most popular drink selection among the type of crowd you appear to be describing is white wine, so I'd purchase a goodly amount of that. There are lots of good choices, but you most likely can't go wrong with any French white under the Jadot label that fits within your budget, Jadot being a nÃ©gociant.
Sounds like a plan!
White wine would most likely be fine with all of that except for some kinds of sausages, certain kinds being better with red wine or beer. Among white wines, besides the ones I and others mentioned earlier you might consider a dry German Riesling, to go with the sausages in particular.
Champagne would probably be fine with everything, although a downside of champagne is that to do it right you would want to supply the proper kind of glasses (or plastic equivalents), and dealing with and setting out an adequate quantity of them may be a bit cumbersome. The proper kind of glass is a tall, thin flute, such as what is shown in the first photo here, NOT a "coupe" style glass, shown in the second photo.
I would also provide bottled water, as others mentioned earlier, especially Perrier sparkling water, and a quantity of beer.
Assuming you omit the hard liquor that has been mentioned, and stick primarily to wine and/or champagne, for 20 or so moderate drinkers I would assume, to be safe, an average of two drink-equivalents of wine or champagne per person (assuming 5 ounces of wine per drink-equivalent) plus some margin. That adds up to about 8 bottles of wine or champagne, plus margin. Personally, I'd get about 10 bottles and enjoy what is left over with my wife, during the following days :-)
If you allocate that between red and white, as opposed to champagne, make the majority of it white, as I suggested in my earlier post.