Having a holiday party doesn’t mean you have to skimp on wine quality. It doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, either. Here are some of our favorites when it comes to great value crowd-pleasers – perfect for some party fun.Bubbly Nothing says celebrate like some sparkling wine. And to keep those glasses flowing, you’ll want something that is delicious and affordable. Not to worry –not all sparkling wine has to be high-end Champagne (though that is worth a splurge, too!). Some of our favorites that are under $20:
Cristalino ($8) – a classic value Cava at about $8, this is a perennial favorite, often scoring in the 90s from critics’ ratings. They do an excellent brut and rose.
Segura Viudus Aria Brut ($12) – Another great Cava producer with a very lovely bottle. Dry and crisp!
Zardetto Prosecco Brut ($14)– Prosecco is another value sparkling wine. It often has more upfront fruit than Cava due to the grape and method in which it is made. Prosecco is delicious on its own, but also makes a great mixer for sparkling wine drinks.
Favorites around the $20 mark include: Roederer Estate Brut, Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut & Rose, any of the Gruet wines from New Mexico (they are really delicious!) and Schramsberg MIrabelle Brut. All of these are perfect for parties or even smaller gatherings. Whites Yalumba Y Series Viognier – $11 – I have yet to find a wine from Yalumba that I don’t like, but this Viognier is a perfect holiday wine – Viognier has that rich, unctuous texture, with excellent fruit and acidity that make it a delicious cold-weather wine (granted, it’s great in summer, too).
Hess Select Chardonnay – $11 – There are always Chardonnay lovers at a party, so if you’re looking for a great quality, good value bottle, this is it. Nothing too complex, but not over-oaked or too heavy – great all-around.
Indaba Chenin Blanc – $9/$10 – Looking for something light, crisp and easy-drinking? Look no further. The Indaba Chenin Blanc from South Africa is an excellent everyday/holiday party white. Reds d’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz – $10 – I think I recommend this every year… because every year it is consistently good. Great fruit and spice, a perfect party wine, summer or winter. Can’t go wrong with this one.
Alamos Malbec – $10 – Everyone loves Malbec – this one has lots of fruit and spice, great for parties.
Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva($15) and Escarpment Over-the-Edge Pinot Noir ($14/$15) – Though it is definitely getting easier to find a good PInot Noir under $15, this price range for this grape is still difficult. Two great regions to look for quality and value in Pinot Noir? Chile and New Zealand. Our two picks are the Veramonte Reserva and the Escarpment Over-the-Edge. Both have bright, rich fruit and a savory texture that gives the wines some body and lasting power. Perfect for parties or everyday dinners. Dessert Holidays are often the only time we splurge on dessert wines. For parties, they are fun to have on hand as well. Dow’s Fine Tawny ($14) – Tawny Ports are excellent pairings with chocolate or other sweets, but they also are great as a little something sweet on their own. With caramel and nutty characteristics, they are perfect for sipping by the fire. Another benefit of Tawny Port, they can last in the bottle once opened for weeks.
Australian Stickies ($15 – $20) – Australians call their dessert wines, made from Muscat or Muscadelle, “stickies,” due to the fact that they are actually sticky (get some on your hands, you’ll know what I mean). They are delicious wines for a little something sweet after a party, or even poured over ice cream! Favorite producers are Yalumba, Chambers and Campbells.