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Hi All,

I'm throwing a party this saturday, and need some reccomendations for good crowd pleasing wines. There won't be much food -- maybe some platters of assorted cheeses and some dips (hummus or salsa or something).

I'm already planning on putting out some bottles of Chardonnay and Pino Grigio that I frankly dislike (got them through the BA wine club), but I think at least the Chardonnay tends to be a popular choice amongst non-specialists.

Was wondering what a good red wine is as an aperitif. I usually drink whites without food, but my guests (mostly grad students and NOT wine snobs) will probably gravitate towards the reds. I'm more curious about variety of grapes... I'm guessing Cabernet or a heavy Rioja would be a bad choice, but what are some good red varieties to use in my case? I'll probably make a run to Costco to pick the stuff up, so haven't really thought of brands yet.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
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Pairing wine with appetizers is similar to pairing wines with other foods. Strong cheeses, oily meats (charcuterie), and even chocolate can work very well with wines that have high tannins red or white. Chards and Cabs often have much more tannins. Less tannic, more fruity wines such as Viognier for white and Pinot Noir or even some Syrah for red, work well with delicate flavored foods.

One note, tannic wines don't pair nicely with spicy food. The spice and tannin can create a bitter taste in the wine (speaking from my own mistakes).

Good Luck.

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