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Bottles that are perfect to take to a party

Don't show up empty handed to your next

Don't show up empty handed to your next holiday party. Credit: Yana Paskova

Some last-minute choices for parties; all $20 or less, and very good. Hurry up.

A high-style ale, Samuel Adams Infinium ($20), stands out. It's an effervescent, crisp production made with Weihenstephan, the venerable German brewer.

Australia kicks in with two meaty red wines: the 2007 d'Arenberg The High Trellis ($18), a blackberry winner; and the 2008 Mother's Milk Barossa Shiraz ($20), a supple, dark-cherry number.

A good deal: the citrusy, tangy 2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Pinot Grigio ($12). The 2007 Hugel Pinot Gris ($15) offers an economical, fresh taste of Alsace. An easygoing, all-purpose white from Italy, try the 2009 Rocca Sveva Soave Classico ($15).

Spain provides the 2007 Bodegas Bilbaínas Viña Zaco ($15), a husky Rioja tempranillo, with red berry and spice notes. Chile brings you a fine cabernet sauvignon-carmenere blend, 2009 MontGras 200 ($13).

Italian reds at moderate prices: the dependable, soulful 2008 Fattoria dei Barbi Rosso di Montalcino ($20); the 2008 Banfi Centine Rosso ($11), primarily sangiovese, and a bargain; and a robust Puglian, 2008 Layer Cake Primitivo ($16), jammy and ripe.

If you spill any reds: bleach-free, WineOFF stain eater. Two bottles, $9.90, at bio-proresearch.com, which also sells CoffeeOFF.

To relax in luxury, consider "Grands Crus Classés: The Great Wines of Bordeaux" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $65) by Sophie Brissaud, with excellent recipes plus details about the great vineyards and chateaus.

And to plan ahead: "Where to Go When: Italy" (DK Publishing, $40), with a forward by Frances Mayes ("Under the Tuscan Sun"). Region by region, season by season, wine by wine, with beautiful photos. Salute!

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