A month after Sandy, it's time to start thinking about something festive. The holidays beckon.
For any gatherings, subdued or celebratory, you'll need a few bottles of good, not-too-expensive wine. Here are some recommendations, $25 or less.
Reliably fruity and fresh, the medium-bodied 2009 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva ($21) is an ideal match for red-sauced dishes, from pastas to chicken and beef.
The 2008 Benziger Family Sonoma County Merlot ($19) has enough red fruit to suit Santa. It's an uncomplicated, balanced choice, very good with roast beef, chicken, turkey.
Turn to Spain for the 2010 The Show Garnacha
The citrusy 2011 Laroche Punto Nino Chardonnay Reserva ($11), from Chile's Casablanca Valley is right with guacamole, salads, shellfish.
In a bubbly mood, look for the nonvintage, crisp Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($20), a refresher for a toast, and just as good with appetizers.
And, for a Port, try the 2007 Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered Port ($25). The concentrated production is ready now and fine company for blue cheese, chocolate, a well-deserved, post-party respite.