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Wine column: The art of the perfect hostess gift

You can never, ever go wrong showing up with a bottle of sparkling wine.

Bubbly is the absolute no-brainer hostess gift, what you bring to a cocktail party or dinner party, what you slip under the Christmas tree, what you stuff into a Christmas stocking and what you, your guests, your friends, your family and your co-workers want to drink this festive season.

We're waxing lyrical about sparkling because the calendar has officially flipped to December and we're facing a four-and-a-half week barrage of holiday parties and get togethers, gift giving and receiving, family reunions, Christmas dinner and New Year's Eve.

</who> Any of these wines make an awesome hostess gift, present under the tree, stocking stuffer or party pourer. From left, Township 7 Seven Stars 2021 Vega ($37), Chronos Brut ($35), Evolve Pink Effervescence ($23), Intrigue 'I Do' Rose ($25), Blasted Church 2022 Blanc de Noir Rose ($26), Intrigue Social White 2022 ($21), Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2022 ($20), See Ya Later Ranch 2021 Chardonnay ($19), Nk'Mip 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon ($41), Stag's Hollow 2020 Dolcetto ($26), Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Red ($19) and Ruffino 2021 Chianti ($15).

If you're invited anywhere, don't show up empty handed.

Thus, this little lesson on the perfect hostess gift.

We're calling it a hostess gift because traditionally it's always been presented to the woman of the house as a thank you token of appreciation for being invited over.

But, we're not sexist here, so it can be a host gift or simply the gift you take wherever you're going.

Sure, the hostess gift can be flowers, a candle, cocktail napkins, chocolates or some other gourmet food item.

But, sparkling wine trumps them all.

You'll see when you present that bottle of bubbly to your hostess and her face lights up.

This is where we should mention the etiquette of the hostess gift.

Present the bottle in a gift bag or sporting a bow to clearly indicate it's a gift and the hostess can save it for later to enjoy.

She is under absolutely no obligation to open it there and then because she may have already planned the drinks list.

However, here's a handy tip, bring the bottle chilled and your hostess has the option of popping it open or saving it.

The exception to all this etiquette is if you've been asked to bring wine to drink that evening.

If so, bring it cold and ready to go.

Of course, your hostess gift giving and all other wine gift giving this holiday season doesn't have to be confined to sparkling.

Customize the gift to the occasion and the person.

Maybe your hostess would prefer rose, white or red.

You know what your family and friends like, so give them that.

Maybe red is the natural choice for a fireside event, while white is the turkey pairing.

And, inevitably, we're back to sparkling as the go-to New Year's Eve cheer.

</who>Zeroing in on the bubbly.

So, after all this is said and done, here are a dozen bottles to take you through the holidays with a little tidbits in brackets beside each one to give you the price and what aromas and flavours and profile to expect from the wine.

- Township 7 Seven Stars 2021 Vega ($37) from the Naramata Bench (an aromatic sparkling Viognier named after the fifth brightest star in the sky)

- Chronos Brut ($35) from Penticton (a classic Champagne-method sparkler made of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir)

- Evolve Pink Effervescence ($23) from Penticton (think foamy peach and pink grapefruit)

- Intrigue 'I Do' Rose ($25) from Lake Country (a Riesling-led frizzante that gets is pink from a splash of Merlot)

- Blasted Church 2022 Blanc de Noir Rose from Okanagan Falls (a sophisticated Pinot Noir pink)

- Intrigue Social White 2022 ($21) from Lake Country (a lime and nectarine, Riesling-led blend)

- Kim Crawford 2022 Pinot Gris ($20) from New Zealand (peaches and cream)

- See Ya Later Ranch 2021 Chardonnay ($19) from Okanagan Falls (lemon, toasted coconut and vanilla, yum)

- Nk'Mip Qwam Qwmt 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon ($41) from Osoyoos (big, bold and balanced blackberry and spice)

- Stag's Hollow 2020 Dolcetto ($26) from Okanagan Falls (big red wine flavour from a little-known Italian varietal)

- Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Red ($19) from France (raspberry and spice in a Grenache-and-Syrah blend)

- Ruffino 2021 Chianti ($15) from Italy (for all your pasta-in-tomato-sauce pairings)

</who>Do a vertical tasting of 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Reserve Pinot Noirs at Mirabel Vineyards' Christmas Open House on Sunday, Dec. 10.

Christmas Open House at Mirabel

Vertically taste the 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Pinot Noirs.

Pair with gourmet appetizers before the cozy fire.

Make merry with friends old and new.

Get a 10% discount on all your holiday wine purchases.

All this is on tap at Mirabel Vineyards' Christmas Open House on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2 to 5 pm, at 3740 Hart Rd. in East Kelowna.

Tickets to this winter wonderland wine get together are $55 each at www.mirabelvineyards.com.

Steve MacNaull is a NowMedia Group reporter, Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar. Reach him at smacnaull@nowmediagroup. His wine column appears every Friday afternoon in this space.



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