Everyone (except teetotalers) appreciates a bottle of wine as a host or hostess gift. Be the guest who puts a little extra thought into what to bring by pairing the most fitting bottle for the type of recipient. Some ideas to get you started:
Peter Hemstad should know how to make good Marquette. After all, he was a driving force in developing the grape that the U of M released in 2006. He's now at the helm of a Stillwater winery, and his Saint Croix Vineyards Marquette 2015 ($25) is proof of this red grape's potential, with loads of red-berry flavor and spice, plus an elegance that previous Minnesota wines have lacked.
For avid entertainers
Who among us hasn't been to a party where Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio was served? While this wine is serviceable, Italy boasts less spendy, more distinctive pinot grigios. The Cantina Tramin Südtirol Pinot Grigio 2016 ($16) has the clean purity expected from the mountains (in this case, the Dolomites), and it's also filled with explosive, rich fruit flavors and a super-refreshing finish.
For charitable sorts
The venerable White Rock winery was burned to the ground in the October fires that wreaked havoc on the Napa Valley. Fortunately, some of its wines were stored elsewhere. But insurance might not cover the entire rebuilding, so buying a bottle of the sturdy, profound White Rock Claret 2014 ($54) is a kind gesture that also provides great pleasure now or after some cellar time.
For rosé lovers
Sure, the pink stuff is fabulous all summer long, but many rosés are beautifully suited for year-round quaffing — especially at holiday parties, where they pair perfectly with most any appetizer. The Le Sot de l'Ange Loire Valley "La Boutanche" Rose 2016 ($22/liter) is crisp and zesty but boasts plenty of oomph, not to mention delightful cherry-berry, almost robust flavors.
Red wine that should be served with a bit of a chill? A bottle that requires a church key rather than a corkscrew? A California wine with racy, tangy acidity and 11.7 percent alcohol? Believe it. The Matthiasson Tendu 2016 ($20/liter) is a blend of aglianico, montepulciano and barbera. Its juicy cranberry and tropical-spice notes absolutely beg for some fridge time. Love that sleek, sexy finish, too.