The holiday season has officially arrived. And amid all the reveling there probably won't be too much swirling, sniffing and spitting. Let's face it--most partygoers don't pay serious attention to wine. However, because a good host takes pride in offering wines that if not profound are nonetheless pleasurable, I've selected 10 great values from among all the bottles I tasted to write the just-published FOOD & WINE Magazine's Official Wine Guide 2000. Not only do they all cost $12 or less (some considerably less), I promise that every one is completely delicious.
1998 R. H. Phillips Night Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, CALIFORNIA, $7
Delightfully light and refreshing, this wine has a fruity, slightly nutty nose and wonderfully lively grassy and citrusy flavors. "Night harvest" means the fruit is fermented at cool temperatures to better preserve its flavors.
1997 Echelon Chardonnay, CALIFORNIA, $12
Creamy, full bodied and fruity, this totally dry wine is marked by delicious flavors of tropical fruit and melon. Echelon was created by Chalone as an affordable alternative to its Acacia and Edna Valley wines.