If you're looking for a simple, expressive gift for the holidays, why not consider a bottle of wine or two?
Nothing says "thank you" to a party host or hostess better than a bottle of wine. And you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a point about friendship.
Wine is divine. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy."
With that in mind here are a pair of Argentinean blends -- red and white -- that will serve as a wonderful couplet presentation, especially if you add a bow to them. Each sells for less than $13 a bottle.
These are interesting blends that produce a lot of flavor: Trivento Winery's Amado Sur Malbec red (Malbec/Bonarda/Syrah) and Amado Sur Torrontés white (Torrontés/Viognier/Chardonnay.
Amado Sur translates into "Beloved South" and these wines come from vineyards located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, a sunny, warm spot where some of Argentina's best grapes are grown. Winemaker German DiCesare strives for fresh fruit flavors and balance, and there's no doubt he's given drinkers a top effort in the 2014 vintage.
The Wine Goddess and I sampled these wines on consecutive nights, and were pleasantly surprised with the smoothness and drinkability.
- Amado Sur Malbec, $12.99 -- Malbec hails from Cahors, in the south of France, and was introduced to Argentina in the 1830s. It grows so impressively here that most people equate Malbec to the land of Eva (Evita) Perøn. Malbec is 79 percent of the Amado Sur mixture and it delivers velvety texture and rich, red berry tastes. Bonarda plays a masterful second fiddle with deep violet colors and enhanced cherry. Syrah provides the spicy kick. Each grape is fermented separately in French oak for eight months before they are blended and aged in stainless steel tanks for six months. The wine sits in bottles for another five months before release. The result is a pillowy soft concoction, which picks up vanilla and toasty nuances. The taste is more refined than you'd expect from a $13 bottle of wine.
- Amado Sur Torrontés, $11.99 -- Eighty percent of this blend is Torrontés Mendocino, which is a special grape in Argentina that helps create dry, lively and aromatic wines. The Viognier and Chardonnay, both 10 percent, yield citrus notes, acidity and a light creamy texture -- a surprising result since the blend gets no oak aging. I found the wine to be exhilarating on the palate. It opened with a nice floral fragrance of melon and peaches, and kept on going with crisp, citrusy flavors that produced an uplifting finish. Lip-smacking good.
These wines are available at most large retail outlets in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.