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Dinner Party Wines

It's easy to find a wine that everyone around your table will enjoy.

When inviting friends for dinner, how do you cover all bases when it comes to the wine you serve? How do you appeal to guests whose tastes range from "light and fruity" to "dark and broody"?

Above all, don't worry too much. Remember that most people who come to your house aren't going to furrow their brows over the wine you serve; they're just happy to be invited to join in the fun. If you choose wines you enjoy and pair them with foods you like, chances are you'll be just fine.

Keep in mind, however, that some people exclusively drink reds, while others drink only whites. Therefore, it's a good strategy to lay in a supply of each. Choose two go-to wines that pair well with a great range of foods. The wines below are definitely food-friendly and please many palates.

Whites

The Crowd-Pleaser: Chardonnay. Often rich and buttery, with pear and apple notes, it's the most popular white in the U.S. Maybe it doesn't pair perfectly with all foods, but Chard fans simply won't care.

Another Sure Bet: Pinot Grigio. This light, fruity, but subtle, pick will go with just about anything on your table.

The Head-Turner: Viognier. This white has the creaminess and body of Chard, but intriguing floral notes that get remembered.

Reds

The Crowd-Pleaser: Merlot. This soft, rich, plummy wine will flatter most foods and is easy to drink.

Another Sure Bet: Syrah/Shiraz. This red offers plenty of personality; find vivid dark-fruit flavors with pleasing spicy notes.

The Head-Turner: Blends. American wineries are bringing together unique blends of grapes, and these wines are the newest attention-grabbers to hit the shelves. Start with blends that feature grapes you like. Branch out from there.

Also be sure to offer plenty of nonalcoholic beverages and put water glasses and a pitcher of water on the table.