$15 or less
WHAT: French Rabbit Merlot 2004 (red)
WHY: Availability is key during the festive party season. The 1-litre Tetra Pak French Rabbit Merlot, on the shelves at most liquor stores, is easy to throw into a backpack on the way to a soirée. Medium-light and not too rambunctious, it will keep you company, and you shouldn't be embarrassed to introduce it to friends.
PRICE: 1,000 ml/$12.95
AVAILABILITY: general LCBO release (product #621656)
WHAT: Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (red)
WHERE: Langhorne Creek, Australia
WHY: Another regular item at most liquor stores that will get you feeling all cozy by the fire, it starts with a bit of a pucker but finishes with lots of vanilla. It'd be improved by pairing with red meat and would also benefit from aging. A couple of glasses of this high-octane red will give you a warm glow.
PRICE : 750 ml/$29.95
AVAILABILITY : general LCBO release, product #470120
Rating : NNN
WHAT: Sleeman India Pale Ale
WHERE: Guelph, Ontario
WHY: In the spirit of festive excess, why not try Sleeman's new India Pale Ale, which tips the scales at a healthy 5.3 per cent alcohol content. As its darker amber colour indicates, the IPA has some strong flavours, but it also has that Sleeman where'd-it-go? finish. Fans of the brand will consider it a solid addition to the lineup.
PRICE : December sale prices 12-pack/$21.95, 24-pack/$40.95
AVAILABILITY : the Beer Store
RATING : NNN
N = Under the bridge NN = Drinkable NNN = Cheers NNNN = Intoxicating NNNNN = Liquid gold