One of the problems with giving wine as a gift is that we often aren’t sure about what to give. Chocolates and flowers are easy; wine isn’t, given the seemingly infinite number of varieties and styles. That’s why, with Mother’s Day upon us, here are a few thoughts about giving Mom wine and serving wine for a Mother’s Day dinner or brunch.

First and foremost, if you do know what Mom likes, give it to her. That means that if she appreciates white zinfandel, it doesn’t matter what you think about white zinfandel. Second, don’t get too complicated. Just because you were impressed with that cult Napa wine doesn’t mean she will be, especially if she doesn’t drink too many cult Napa wines. And finally, wine should be fun. You don’t want Mom drinking something just to please you on Mother’s Day.

To that end, here are three wines that offer value and that Mom should like:

Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($8): The quality of this South African wine, especially at this price, always surprises me. It’s more French in style than anything else, with more mineral than fruit and just a touch of lemon zest.

Bonny Doon Syrah Le Pousser 2006 ($18): Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm is equal parts character and great winemaker, and all of his wines deliver value. This vintage of the syrah has a little more fruit than the previous one, but it’s still complicated, interesting and balanced. This is what California syrah should taste like. Availability may be limited.

Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine Proprietors’ Reserve 2006 ($20 for a 187-ml bottle): Ice wine is one of the world’s great guilty pleasures, and this is no exception. It’s dessert wine, so it’s honeyed, rich and luscious, but the sweetness is much more than just sugary.

Ask the Wine Guy

Q. What is ice wine?
A. Ice wine is wine made from grapes that are left on the vine to freeze. Freezing concentrates the sugar in the grapes, which produces the ice wine’s intense sweetness. As such, it is difficult to make and consequently expensive.

Tomato and roasted red pepper soup

This tomato soup is amazingly easy to make, and it tastes much better than you’d expect (even with canned tomatoes). You’ll never buy a can of the condensed stuff again. It’s a nice match with the Bonny Doon syrah.

Serves four, takes about 30 minutes
1 28-oz can whole canned tomatoes
1 6-oz jar roasted red peppers
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ c water
2 tsp flour
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Drain the tomatoes and peppers, and save the tomato juice.

2. In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil for three to four minutes over medium to high heat. Then add the flour, mix well, and cook for another minute.

3. Add the water, mix well, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low, and cook for 15 minutes. The tomatoes will have broken up, and the soup should be chunky.

4. Let the soup cool for a couple of minutes, and then puree in a blender until it is smooth. Put it back in the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Taste. If it isn’t tomato-ey enough, add a little of the reserved juice. Serve hot.

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