There's a twitter phenomenon called "Board Game Hour" hosted by The Ministry of Board Games (www.mofbg.co.uk). Recently the founder of both, Nate Brett, asked his followers what they thought was the best game to introduce new players into the board gaming hobby. The results (and an extensive list of follow-up conversations) can be found at the Ministry of Board Games site under the heading "Try it, you might like it."
The only problem with this list is that the suggestions don't consider the new players' tastes, ages, attitudes, or gaming experience. Nor does it account for the situation or environment that game(s) might be played in. It's a good list of good games, that's certain. But there's a lot more to the subject than just "make a list."
"Castle Panic" might be a great game to bring teen geeks into the hobby, but if the novices don't know orcs from archers, this might not be a good choice. "Time's Up: Title Recall" is an awesome party game, with plenty of laughs and quick thinking. However, if your candidates are quieter types with performance anxiety, maybe not so appropriate.
"Know your audience" is a good rule of thumb for a public speaker or entertainer, and just as valid for a "Game Sommelier" (thank you, Stephen and Dave at "The Spiel"). Considering the folks around the table, you can choose a game that will break the ice without burning the brain, and will focus on a theme or basic mechanic that all participants will enjoy. Throwing someone who's a Euchre player into a game of "Elder Sign" might work, but a comfort level with cards would suggest that Dominion might be a better choice. For a family who once played Chutes and Ladders, one might bring out "Magical Athletes." Almost anyone can warm up to Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride, and it's always a joy to see folks working together at Forbidden Island.
Ask them what they like to play, too. I'm always up for a game of Sequence or Sorry or Scrabble or Scene-It! Then I can follow up with, "That was great fun. Have you ever played Fluxx or Guillotine or Settler of Catan?"
There are so many choices to be made, and if made well, a good time will be had by all. And many more to come!