Wine: Bottles that say thank you

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From the November 29, 2012 edition

Wine always seems like an easy gift to bring along to a holiday party… until you’re having a staring contest with the shelves, not sure which gleaming bottle to grab.

Good news: Unless the recipients are your in-laws, they probably won’t evaluate your contribution, but rather will see it as the generous gesture it is. Also good news: area shop owners love the challenge of helping you make a suitable bottle selection.

When in doubt, though, a good rule of thumb for a crowd-pleasing bottle is that it’s not too sweet or dry. Here, we examine a red and white worth considering.

LIGHT RED

Pinot noir

Jargon

$10, sale

Pinot noir is a fruit-forward red wine – which basically means it’s the opposite of a dark and heavy cabernet or chianti that might have potential to turn off some drinkers. As a plus, it’s a versatile red wine that could be served along with the poultry-heavy dishes associated with the holidays – without overpowering them.

This bottle exemplifies just what we’re looking for in a pinot noir – medium tannins (that bitter sort of taste that makes your tongue curl a bit), smooth and not too oaky.

CRISP WHITE

Sauvignon blanc

Robert Pepi

$10, sale

Chardonnay is most often thought of when it comes to popular white wines, but with its full body and buttery and oaky flavors, it can also be the red wine of white wines. Sauvignon blanc doesn’t take itself quite so seriously. Between that and its crisp taste, which makes it a delicious sip between bites, your friends will love you for carrying this bottle in the door.

This sauvignon blanc went over well when it was sampled at Thanksgiving. Its strong citrus and maybe even green apple flavors give it a fresh flavor that some might call tangy – and most will call delicious.