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Swirl n' Spit

Let's Drink to the Holidays!

By Heather Irwin

Family, friends, holiday shopping, office gatherings and in-laws. Oh, the many reasons to drink during the holidays. And, despite your inclination to cheap out and bring whatever's left in the back of the refrigerator, don't. Get a little creative and bring something different, a little unique. Your payoff will be under the mistletoe.

Bring it for hors d'oeuvres: Mia's Playground 2002 Chardonnay for under $14. A division of Don Sebastiani and Sons, this fun, wacky label is easy and unpretentious. Plus, you'll have at least 20 minutes of fun reading all the stuff on the label. Bonus points: find the three monkeys.

Bring it to dinner: Big, oaky Chardonnays at dinner are beyond gauche. Ease up and bring a lighter, food-friendly white as well as a luscious red, and let your host decide how and when to serve them. The best bet: Hanna 2003 Sauvignon Blanc goes well with lighter fare and white meats. The 2002 Trefethan Merlot has great body, but won't overpower the meal.

Bring it to your lover: Bubble bath and two bottles of rosé. Toad Hollow 2003 Pinot Noir Rosé and the sweetly blushed Bonny Doon 2003 Big House Pink should do the trick.

Bring it to your boss: If he's got a sense of humor, how about a bottle of Fat Bastard Shiraz--big, cheap and fruity, just like the old boy. If he fails to find the humor, Le Vieille Ferme sounds expensive and French, even though it translates roughly to "the old farm" and is anything but.

For Mom and Dad: If they don't know a Two-Buck Chuck from a Domaine Chandon, you'll do best to give them a wine country sampler of $5 to $15 wines from well-known names like Gallo and Kendall-Jackson. If they're into trying something a little exotic (and slightly pricier), try a bottle of Cabernet from Darioush Winery. Spicy and bold, it's a fun departure for dear old Mom and Dad.

For New Year's Eve: Little pink cans of Sophia sparkling wine are great party favors and cost less than $5 each. If you're splurging (over $10, and trust me, it's worth it the next day) grab a bottle of bubbly from J Winery or Gloria Ferrer.

For co-workers: Presentation is everything, especially when giving inexpensive wine. Cost Plus has a great selection of wines under $5. Grab a selection of whites and reds with fun and funky labels, like the new Red Bicyclette from Gallo wines. Target has adorable printed wine boxes for $9.99 that make the cheapest bottle look impressive.

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From the December 22-28, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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