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Big Daddy Reds 

Father's Day gifts for dads who dig big reds

My dad's not a wine drinker. I sometimes envy friends whose dads are easy to shop for -- pick a bottle, throw it in an appropriately fancy wine bag, and voilá: instant Father's Day gift. It seems a conveniently easy way to please, especially when you've got your dad's taste pegged. But if you don't, sneakily peruse his wine collection, noticing the special bottles growing dust bunnies. Chances are, you'll find plenty of Big Daddy Reds. By inspecting the Big Daddies, you'll find a wealth of gift information, and a stereotype might emerge.

The Cab Dad likes his wine from tres chic Napa Valley, where many other dads like to graze. He reads the glossy wine mags and considers wine critic Robert Parker a god. The worst thing about this dad: you probably can't afford what he likes to drink. The best thing: if you introduce him to something under $20 that he enjoys, he'll worship you forever. Seek out second label wines, like Glass Mountain from Markham Vineyards or Liberty School, babied by Chris Phelps, famed winemaker from Caymus Vineyards.

The Zin Dad knows that "Zin" doesn't strictly mean "White Zin." He likes fruit oozing in every sip and proudly embraces the whopping 15 percent alcohol content because it's manly. If you can swing it, a mixed case of the coveted "R's" of Zinfandel might be a good gift option: Rosenblum, Ravenswood and Ridge. Or, better yet, introduce him to some lesser-known, yet gorgeous zinfandels (most under $30): Green & Red, Robert Biale, Renwood, Martinelli, or Benessere.

The Pinot Dad is an expensive dad. If you're hurting for money, go ahead and buy him a shirt or a cheap wrench set. It's almost impossible to find a decent domestic (or international, for that matter) Pinot Noir under twenty bucks, but it happens every now and then. Acacia out of California and Torii Mor from Oregon are two that you can count on, although they might be a tad over the $20 mark. If you're rolling in dough, spring for a 2001 Chambolle Musigny, Vosne Romanee, or Nuits St. Georges from Burgundy, France. Seek recommendations from your local wine shop, and expect a $50 hit.

The GSM Dad thinks outside the box. He knows the GSMs -- an acronym for Rhne Valley grapes Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre -- are hot right now, and he hankers for the new stuff. These dads' gift bags can thankfully be filled easily with affordable wines. California, Australia and South Africa all produce excellent GSMs that will make him smile. But if you're generous and pulling in six figures, then gift a high-end 2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape that will have him blushing like a bride.

Recommended Wines

Murphy Goode 2001 Snake Eyes Zinfandel Alexander Valley Elegant fragrance, reminiscent of rose perfume. Eases into a sturdy, yet smooth raspberry, blackberry flavor, backed by a bit of tanned leather. Really, really good stuff. $22.

Guardian Peak 2001 Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache South Africa Like a rough-looking drag queen, this wine is busty, earthy and fruity all at once. Heavy, solid flavor of deep, dark cherry laced with mint and chocolate. Not a wimpy wine. $18.

Scarpantoni School Block 2002 Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot McClaren Vale Lively Australian eucalyptus on the tongue, dancing with soft cherry and a generous, gigantic finish of fruit. $16. 1/2

Cline Cellars 2001 Syrah California Chock-full of black cherry, with a generous helping of black pepper and rich earth. Fantastic value in this one -- easily worth more money. $9.

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