Ordering chardonnay is as hopelessly girly as asking for dressing on the side. Andrea Robinson, author of the 2008 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone, serves up fresh choices.
For dinner at your-friend-the-starving-poet's house,
try a Chilean sauvignon blanc from the Veramonte or Casa Lapostolle wineries (ranging from $7 to $10). They're known for their honeydew and tangerine flavors and won't overpower the food (a plus, unless your friend is serving tripe).
For dinner at your boss's house, grab
a Napa Valley sauvignon blanc from the Girard Winery or Mason Cellars (ranging from $15 to $20), which have traces of pineapple, kiwi, and mango. Anything more expensive and your boss will think she's paying you too much.
If you want to celebrate that holiday bonus with Cristal
but the bonus wasn't actually that big, get a bottle of Taittinger or Pommery (ranging from $35 to $40). They're tangy and creamy. Plus, you don't have to pair them with bling, G.
Pick up an excellent made-in-the-USA sparkling white. A bottle of the Domaine Ste. Michelle from Washington or Mirabelle from California (ranging from $12 to $14) will be suitably fruity and effervescent.