Being a good guest means never showing up empty-handed. Here are a few wine guidelines and shopping tips to remember if you’re planning to gift your host with a nice bottle of red or white. 1. Do a little sleuthing Make like a detective and find out what your intended recipients like, either by subtly quizzing mutual friends or just asking directly. Do their tastes lean more toward sweet, dry or semi-dry wines? You may discover your host is partial to buttery California chardonnay, prefers sweet fruit-based sippers or has a penchant for Spanish Rioja. If money is no object, serious oenophiles might appreciate a special vintage from the year they were born, or a varietal from a wine-producing region that calls to mind a beloved memory or favorite vacation. 2. What’s for dinner? If you’ll be attending a dinner party, knowing what’s on the menu can help you tailor your wine selection accordingly. Of course, Italian wine with Italian food is a no-brainer. The good news is that acceptable tastes and pairings vary more widely than ever before, even though the old “white wine with white meat, red wine with red meat” adage still holds true for good reason. A bubbly Champagne or prosecco to pop open for a pre-dinner toast immediately ups the special-occasion factor of any gathering, and a bottle of port or Vin Santo makes a thoughtful accompaniment for dessert. 3. ’Tis the season Consider the time of year when shopping for wine to give as a gift. Light, summery salads and al fresco fare in warm-weather months pair well with refreshingly chilled whites and rosés. On chilly winter nights, bolder, more assertive reds complement hearty roasts, pastas and stews. 4. Ask for assistance  Feeling intimidated about shopping alone? You can try enlisting the advice of a wine-savvy friend, bribing him or her with a glass afterward. Or go to a store specializing in wine, such as Total Wine, and ask for help with your selection. They will capably steer you toward an appropriate bottle within your budget, or suggest something you hadn’t considered. If you’ve always wanted to know more about wine, Total Wine offers special events and classes where you will learn firsthand from winemakers