Food and drink 

The Procrastinator’s wine picks

From hostess gifts to holiday feasts

If, like me, you have waited until the last week to get organized for the holidays, you’re going to need some expert help and you’ll need it fast. The good news is wine is an increasingly acceptable gift solution as long as you put a bit of thought into your selections.

Let’s start with the hostess gift. If you’re attending a dinner party this holiday season, don’t forget to take along a hostess gift, and I don’t mean a mini-pack of domestic liqueurs. Hostess gifts are not obligatory, nor are they expected, but it doesn't mean they aren’t appreciated or shouldn’t be thoughtful.

Knowing what to bring takes bit of investigation, but if you’re unfamiliar with the wines your hostess prefers the ultimate grape solution is sparkling wine. To make your offering sparkle, dress it up festively in clear or coloured cellophane — perfect to see the bottle — tied with ribbons of natural or coloured raffia.

Here’s a pair of sparkling ideas to wrap up that will be well received wherever you go. And they work just as well if you’re planning a party and you need some fizz to greet your guests. The Segura Viudas N/V Aria Estate Brut $22 has attractive citrus, peach, honey, nutty, mineral, flavours well-suited to food. Visually, the pink Segura Viudas N/V Lavit Rosado Brut $15 commands attention as does its fruity creamy textures and mineral, cherry flavours.

Next up is Christmas dinner. If you’re invited out, you have the option of bringing along a hostess gift or trying your hand at buying a bottle of wine that will match the bird. Turkey wines — and I’m not referring to all the sub-standard wines I have to taste to find the good stuff — must be able to stand up to all the flavours, not to mention the general ruckus that besets the festive dinner table.

I like the idea of serving both red and white with the traditional Christmas Day main course of turkey and or ham. When it comes to whites I would eschew the sauvignon blanc and chardonnay on this day and look to riesling, chenin blanc, gewürztraminer and viognier.

Some sure bets include two California whites: Clay Station 2005 Viognier $18 , a delicious mix of peaches and guava with bits of honey and passion fruit that would cut through the ham or turkey. Likewise for the Bogle Vineyards 2006 Chenin Blanc $18 and its grapefruit, mineral, honey, buttery, green apple skin flavours.

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