Think champagne is the only way to celebrate? These wines will change your mind.

Toast Masters

It’s time to honor grads, dads and June brides. It’s also time to celebrate the final arrival of sunshine and warm weather. Try some (or all!) of the wines listed below for your own special gatherings, be they large, small, formal or casual. Cheers!

Wente Brut Reserve non-vintage sparkling wine, $12. This California bubbly is made in the methodé Champenoise manner, from a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc grapes. It’s dry, bracing and festive, and complements hors d’oeuvres such as herbed focaccia, smoked trout with sour cream and dill, miniature pizzas and crackers spread with mild goat cheese.

1996 Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fume Blanc, $11. A beautifully balanced Sauvignon Blanc that is rich and full on the palate without being oaky. It’s clean and crisp (refreshing on a hot day), but not overly acidic. Try it with roast chicken, grilled shrimp or steamed lobsters.

1997 Hugel Cuvée les Amours Pinot Blanc, $11.99. Pale straw in color, this soft, gentle white from Alsace makes a lovely apéritif. It’s full-flavored enough, however, to also pour with simply prepared fish and poultry dishes.

1998 Melini Chianti Classico Riserva “La Selvanella,” D.O.C.G., $20.99. Although this wine will keep well for 10 years or more, it is delicious now and can be enjoyed with grilled steaks, roast beef or with a cheese course. The nose has aromas of raspberries and spice, which lead into mouth-filling flavors of toasted nuts and blackberries.

1995 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, $50. This is definitely a wine to buy for celebrations to come, as well as one to enjoy now. (It will keep well for up to 20 years.) Intense, mouthwatering aromas of toast and ripe raspberries with a hint of plum; a full-bodied, multilayered red with a clean, dry finish. Serve it with grilled or roast veal chops, pork tenderloin or prime cuts of beef.

1998 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir, $18. If the occasion calls for a lighter red, this lean, elegant California wine may be just what you’re looking for. Aromas of chocolate, mushrooms and tobacco are rich and seductive, indeed. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied with a pleasing balance of fruit and acidity. It’s gorgeous with simply seasoned poultry, game, tuna or salmon.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne Premiere Cru non-vintage, $30; half-bottles, $17.50. This affordable French Champagne is a terrific choice for toasting newlyweds, or for serving as an aperitif anytime. It’s dry — but not bone-dry — and beautifully complements hors d’oeuvres such as toasted almonds and puff pastry


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