“Never show up to a party without a gift in hand,” my mom always said. Yet, how do you find a thoughtful yet tasteful gift to give in these trying financial times? Chef Georges Mokbel has made it easy for us this holiday season by putting together his picks for the best wine choices for under $20 a bottle.

The chef understands that the holiday party booze budget may not be as big as in year’s past so he has also provided delicious recipes for a traditional French Vin Chaud (think mulled wine) and a Champagne Punch. Check out those recipes at: http://www.georgesmokbel.com/holiday/holidaydrink


La Crema Chardonnay 2007, Sonoma. About $17
Light and not acidy Chardonnay. Buttery and creamy taste with hints of butterscotch, Pineapple pear and vanilla.

Merryvale Starmont Merlot 2005, Napa Valley, About $19.00
“Unfussy yet elegant” with hints of cherry, cranberry and asparagus. The finish is unexpectedly complex.

Saintsburry Garnet Pinot 2006, Napa Valley, Carneros. About $18.00
Reminds me of a beautiful burgundy, this is a great valued wine with intense aromas of cherry, vanilla, and wild berries lifted with a smoky touch. This wine is rich and well rounded.

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2002, Cabernet Sauvignon About $19.00
I love this Carbernet, it is spicy and bold with deep aromas of mocha and cherry.

Mumm Cuvee “M”, Napa. About $17.00
Perfect sparkling wine, with a peach rose color. Elegant and complex aromas of peach, pear and caramel.

The chef is currently working on his cookbook, Everyday to Gourmet and a pilot for his own cooking show of the same name will be shot in 2009. More information on Chef Mokbel can be found at: www.georgesmokbel.com