This is one of the most consistently delicious and refreshing whites on store shelves. The fruit for this New Zealand wine is gently pressed and the juice is cold-settled to retain its freshness. It has a vibrant, zesty flavor with enticing notes of passion fruit and lime, and works both as an aperitif for cocktail parties and paired with a wide range of dishes, from shellfish to vegetarian. Serve it well chilled at 50 to 55 degrees F. Don't fear the screw cap: It's especially useful at parties when you're opening lots of bottles. (About $18)
- Party Nibble Pairing: Goat Cheese Crostini with Blood Orange and Black Pepper Marmalade
The herbal notes in the Sauvignon Blanc blend beautifully with the grassy flavors of the cheese.
- Holiday Pairing: Baked Smoked Ham with Mango
The salty, smoked ham is brightened with the citrusy flavors of the wine.
Party Nibble Pairing:
- Party Nibble Pairing: Olives Baked in Red Wine
Ideally, you'd use the same red wine in the recipe as you'd drink, because the black olives absorb the flavor of the wine.
- Holiday Pairing: Duck Breast with Roasted Peaches and Walnut-Parsley Fried Rice
The gamy notes of duck, with its ginger accents, bring out the blackberries and currants in the wine.
Shingleback Shiraz 2005
Brothers Kym and John Davey planted their vineyard on Australian land in the McLaren Vale that their family has owned since 1959. The region enjoys a Mediterranean climate with warm spring and autumn seasons but tempered heat in the summer. The result is wine that has an incredible depth of flavor — lots of pepper, black cherry, and blackberry — but is still balanced and elegant. However, it's no fruit bomb but rather one of Down Under's finer examples of a Shiraz, making this a wonderful gift for those who may have been hooked on cheaper stuff. (About $35)
- Party Nibble Pairing: Pigs-in-Blankets
This meaty party nibble has dark, smoky flavors, and the wine's black fruit makes for a terrific sauce with every bite.
- Holiday Pairing: Peppercorn- and Thyme-Roasted Goose
The black pepper notes in the Shiraz mirror the seasoning of this dish.
- Party Nibble Pairing: Black Bean, Green Pepper, and Red Onion Dip
The acidity and bubbles in this wine keep the black beans and peppers from overwhelming the palate.
- Holiday Pairing: Plum-Glazed Roast Turkey with Spinach, Bacon, and Cashew Stuffing and Plum Gravy
Savory bacon and stuffing flavors stand up to the toasty notes in the Champagne.
Natalie MacLean's best-selling book, “Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass,” is now available in paperback. She was named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in 2005 for the articles and wine picks in her free wine newsletter, available at